Rumsfeld holds talks with China defense chief Cao
Updated: 2005-10-19 19:26
Calling U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit a "big event," Beijing
said the two large and important countries have a broad range of shared
interests and a solid footing for building cooperation.
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan (R) and
his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld share a light moment at the welcoming
ceremony in Beijing Oct. 19. [newsphoto]
Defense Minister General Cao Gangchuan told a joint press conference in
Beijing Wednesday that China's priority was to develop the economy and raise the
living standards. China is in no position to project military power and race
militarily with the United States.
Rumsfeld said his meeting with Cao was "constructive, candid and useful."
"I sense a desire on the part of the minister to find activities and ways we
can work with each other that will contribute to demystifying what we see of
them and what they see of us," Secretary Rumsfeld said.
The atmosphere surrounding Rumsfeld's visit appeared friendly and optimistic,
the Associated Press reported.
Rumsfeld applauded China's dramatic economic successes, noting that when he
first visited Beijing in 1974 as President Gerald R. Ford's chief of staff, the
streets were filled with bicycles, not cars.
In his prepared opening remarks, Rumsfeld, echoing a Pentagon Report on
China's military sent to Congress earlier, said China is raising global
suspicion because its defense spending is not "transparent."
General Cao said it would be "simply impossible" to increase the budget on
the scale cited by the Pentagon because China is focusing its resources on
fighting domestic poverty.
"It is not necessary and not possible, actually, for us to massively increase
the defense budget," Cao said. He defended the accuracy of China's report that
its 2005 defense budget is about $29 billion, compared with the $90 billion the
Even calculating it at a more recent exchange rate (following the July 21
revaluation), the budget comes to $30.2 billion, Cao said.
"That is, indeed, the true budget we have today," he said.. Cao told
reporters that "some funding for the development of equipment" is excluded from
the published budget, such as China’s space launch program.
On his first visit to China as defense secretary, Rumsfeld delivered an
address to the Central Party School and fielded questions from several students
and faculty members.
When one professor told Rumsfeld that China hears "different voices," or
conflicting messages, from U.S. officials, Rumsfeld replied, "I hadn't noticed
that." He went on to say that it is China, not the United States, that has sent
conflicting signals about its future intentions.
"So we see mixed signals and we seek clarification," Rumsfeld said.
"While there is no one model that is perfect for every nation at every time
in its development, a look across the globe suggests that societies that tend to
encourage more open markets and freer systems are societies where the people are
enjoying the greatest opportunities," Rumsfeld said at the Central Party School.