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Rumsfeld departs for Beijing Monday
(chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-10-16 10:18

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld departs Monday on his first visit to China since 2000, marking a new opening or hopefully a new way of thinking in the very conservative Pentagon towards a rapidly developing China.

Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with President Hu Jintao, who also is chairman of the Central Military Commission, which runs the military, and other senior officials, including Rumsfeld's counterpart, General Cao Gangchuan, the Associated Press reported.

As a good will gesture to the Americans, China agreed to allow Rumsfeld to visit the 2nd Artillery Corps headquarters at Qinghe, which runs its strategic missile forces. Rumsfeld would be the first U.S. official ever to see the complex, said Pentagon officials who briefed reporters on the historical trip.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the U.S. & Central America Ministers Conference on Security and Economic opportunity in Key Biscayne, Florida, October 13, 2005.
US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (L) at the US & Central America Ministers Conference on Security and Economic opportunity in Key Biscayne, Florida, October 13, 2005. [Reuters]
Secretary Rumsfeld is hoping Beijing detail more about the scope of its military budget, and will confer closely with Chinese leaders to fathom Chinese intentions, the Associated Press reported. Up to now, the Pentagon sees China as a potential threat to U.S. interests in Asia and a possible global rival in the future.

Rumsfeld leaves Washington with few expectations of major breakthroughs in the topsy-turvy relationship with China, his aides was quoted as saying. But many see his visit as bringing the United States and China full-circle from the most recent low point in relations: the April 2001 collision of a Chinese jet and a U.S. Navy spy plane in China¡¯s southern coastal sea.

Rumsfeld's visit, only the third by a U.S. defense secretary in the past decade and the first since 2000, is intended in part as a precursor to a trip that President Bush plans for November.

Rumsfeld's visit is "long overdue, very welcome, and hopefully will help to restore some trust and momentum to the U.S.-China military and strategic relationship," said David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University. "Yet the depth of distrust and misperceptions in both military establishments toward the other is palpable and not easily overcome."

Kurt Campbell, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs during the Clinton administration, said in an interview with the Associated Press that Rumsfeld's visit is a welcome change of approach for the Bush administration.



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