Gates to visit China, defense ties normalize

08:51, October 12, 2010      

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Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (R) shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates while meeting the press together in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, Oct. 11, 2010, on the sidelines of the 1st ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus). (Xinhua/Huang Xiaoyong)

China invited U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to visit Beijing at an earlier time in 2011, in an apparent good-will gesture to improve military relations between the world's two powerful countries, and Mr. Gates accepted the invitation Monday.

The visit of the Pentagon's chief to Beijing, the first following President Barack Obama came into office two years ago, speaks of a thawing of strained military ties. The warming-up is expected to lay solid foundations for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, scheduled for next spring, sources said.

The first tentative step towards a consistent military relationship between the two economic giants started Monday in Hanoi, Vietnam with a meeting between Mr. Gates and his Chinese counterpart General Liang Guanglie.

After 50-minute talks mostly closed to reporters, Mr. Gates later briefed press that the meeting was "constructive". A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman disclosed that General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the PLA (People's Liberation Army), will visit the Pentagon soon. That tells of an immediate restarting of defense consultations between the two militaries.

China and the U.S. will hold talks on maritime security in Hawaii on October 14-15, sources said.

Liang said that military relations constitute an important part of bilateral relations, which are of increasing global impact. Currently, the two military are some problems in developing ties, with the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan being the major obstacle, he said. "The biggest barrier in defense relations between the two is U.S. arms sales to China's Taiwan. "

He stressed that it is important for the two countries to respect and care for each other's core interests, and continuously consolidate strategic mutual trust in order to develop military ties in a stable manner, said the defense minister.

Mr. Gates told Liang he hoped military ties with Beijing "will not be decided by the discrepancies but by mutual interests and responsibilities." He said the talks are constructive and represented a "good forward step".

"The meeting between Liang and Gates can be viewed as the official resumption of military relations between Beijing and Washington following almost a year-long standoff," Yuan Peng, director for the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations said.

"Their meeting will pave the way for the US-China Defense Consultative Talks and the re-establishment of a communication mechanism between the two," Yuan said.

Chinese analysts say that the normalization of Sino-U.S. military relations, an important part of the broader ties, should boost the chemicals between the two governments and peoples, which will contribute to regional and global economic development and stability.

People's Daily Online


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