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UPDATED: 20:55, October 20, 2005
Rumsfeld's visit paves way for Bush's impending China tour
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Visiting US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he hopes exchange and cooperation between the Chinese and US armies would be consolidated.

"China and the US share a complex relationship and despite notable differences, we still have a great deal in common," Rumsfeld said when addressing a seminar in the China PLA Military Science Academy Thursday morning in Beijing.

He told the Chinese military think-tank that the United States welcomes the emergence of a responsible, peaceful and prosperous China, stressing that the two armies both have to find ways to eliminate sense of mystery about each other and increase mutual understanding.

"We should upgrade out military ties compatible to the national relationship," Rumsfeld told Cao Gangchuan, his Chinese counterpart during their talks Wednesday.

Rumsfeld arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit as a guest of Cao. This is his first visit to China as defense secretary since he took office in January 2001, and the second visit by a US defense secretary since 2000.

"I would like to interpret Rumsfeld's visit as a sign of the substantial recovery of Sino-US military exchanges", said Fu Mengzi, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Contemporary International Relations, in an interview with Xinhua.

Rumsfeld expressed concern over China's military development at various occasions before he traveled to China. In response, China arranged for him to have in-depth discussions with Chinese top military leaders and accept his request to visit the China PLA Second Artillery force, making him the first foreign visitor to China's strategic missile headquarters.

Rumsfeld highlighted the significance for the United States and China in furthering relations in his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and vowed to strengthen cooperation with mutual benefits on important international issues.

He also stressed that the two militaries should seek common ground while reserving differences and promote exchanges in the forms of academy education, personnel exchanges and fleet visits and that he has no doubt about China's military build-up. He was quoted as saying by Zhang Bangdong, director of the Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) of Chinese Defense Ministry, who participated in the meeting.

"Military relations are the best bellwether for bilateral relations," Fu said, citing the fact that China-US cooperation in the military field is much poorer than that in the fields of economy and trade, culture,education and technology.

"I think the exchanges and cooperation in the military field will boom soon after Rumsfeld's China trip", the research fellow said.

Fu believed that Rumsfeld's visit would be an important part of a series of activities which pave the way for US president George W. Bush's China visit in November.

Beijing has hosted US high-level officials such as Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan against the backdrop of recent discussions on the currency exchange rate, intellectual property right protection and the trade deficit.

"All these activities will create a favorable atmosphere for the impending Sino-US summit," Fu said.

Source: Xinhua

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