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Donald Rumsfeld Walks Past an Honor Guard; Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan Shares a Chuckle With His Guest.

—AP VIDEO NEWS: Rumsfeld Tells China that it Should Be More Open About its Military Plans, October 19, 00:01:04
—SLIDE SHOW: Rumsfeld in Beijing

Rumsfeld Visits the 'Inevitable Enemy'

On his first trip to Beijing since becoming Defense Secretary five years ago, Donald Rumsfeld wants to enhance the lines of communication between the two militaries. But given his repeated pronouncements about the ‘China Threat,’ according to this op-ed article from France’s Liberation, he’s unlikely to glean more than lots of wide-toothed smiles.

By Correspondent in Beijing Pierre Haski

October 19, 2005

Liberation - Original Article (French)    

Sitting in the Big Visitor Chairs With Chinese President Hu Jintau

It has taken more than five years for Donald Rumsfeld to make an official visit to China. The American defense chief, who has a solid reputation of being a partisan for a new Cold War with communist China, arrived Monday in Beijing to attempt an improbable dialogue. From the start, the Chinese have kept him at arm’s length: his request to visit Beijing’s “Pentagon” was rejected. He has to settle for a strategic missile site near the capital that has never been opened to Americans. Aside from his meetings, he has also been offered a platform to express his point of view, with speeches at the communist party’s main school, and before the military academy.

Rummykins in China

Falling a month before a visit to China by Bush, Rumsfeld’s first visit is deemed important for defining the Sino-American relationship, which constantly oscillates between cooperation and confrontation. The Defense Secretary is working to establish closer contacts between military leaders in the two countries, who don’t really know each other and are mutually suspicious.

Rumsfeld, however, will have a hard time overcoming the deep reticence that he inspires in Beijing, especially after his speech in Singapore last June. Speaking during a meeting on defense in Asia, he criticized the increase in Chinese military expenditures “while no country is threatening China,” as well as its lack of freedoms. And he made it known that he wanted to harden the language of the Pentagon report on Chinese defense. The following month, this report characterized China as a potential threat to American interests in Asia.

The Pentagon is crawling with “hawks,” who see China as the State enemy that disappeared with the USSR. The Wall Street Journal last month ran a portrait of one of these defense “gurus,” Michael Pillsbury, who believes that Beijing sees Washington as an “inevitable enemy,” and that it is thus necessary to be prepared. This consultant, who has access to Rumsfeld, believes that every other branch of the government is populated by “panda lovers,” that is to say people who will “sell out” to Beijing, and that only the Defense Department is still “healthy”…

Settling in for a Nice Warm Exchange With Chinese Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Guo Boxiong

This would not be so serious if the two countries weren’t at risk of one day finding themselves in an armed conflict over the fate of Taiwan. In both Washington and Beijing, it is believed that the lack of contact between military officials increases this risk. It is not certain that Rumsfeld is the right man to talk to, but the Chinese have no interest in souring their relationship with him. They will greet him with smiles, without giving up anything of value.

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