Rumsfeld's Rocket Center Visit Could Signal More Chinese Transparency
Rumsfeld's Rocket Center Visit Could Signal
More Chinese Transparency
By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.
Beijing, China -- (AFPS)
October 19, 2005
Defense officials are calling Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit to
China's Strategic Rocket Forces headquarters today a historic event that they
hope signals China's willingness to be more open about its military.
Rumsfeld and his small group of advisers became the first foreign visitors to
the compound in Qinghe, just outside China's capital city, senior officials told
So rare are visits to the facility, in fact, that Rumsfeld was the first
person to sign a large, scrapbook-size visitor's book at the facility, officials
At Qinghe, Rumsfeld and his group met with Gen. Jing Zhiyuan, commander of
China's Strategic Rocket Forces, and Gen. Jing Zhi Yuan, commander of the 2nd
Artillery Corps, which makes up China's rocket missile force.
The U.S. officials received a briefing that included overviews of the
command's organization and structure, its training practices, and weapons and
equipment stocks, officials said. Senior Col. Kang Hong Gui, operations officer
for the 2nd Artillery, conducted the briefing.
Along with an explanation of the command's operations, the U.S. visitors were
briefed on the security of its command-and-control structure. They also received
assurances that the operation is not targeting another country. Such
suggestions, a Chinese official told them, are "completely groundless."
While the U.S. officials received no specific troop or weapons numbers and
didn't view any maps, they called the visit to the headquarters facility a
breakthrough. The U.S. military had been requesting the visit "for years," a
senior official told reporters. "This is the first time we've ever engaged these
folks," an official said. "We had never been able to do that in any sense."
U.S. officials are viewing the visit as "a signal (the Chinese) want to
engage us, albeit gingerly," and an indication that China may be willing to lift
at least some of the secrecy it's long held over its military programs. "It's an
opening that we've been looking for for a long time," a U.S. official said.
Rumsfeld has repeatedly urged China to be more transparent about its military
programs and spending since arriving here Oct. 17 for a three-day visit.
He emphasized that theme today during remarks to future communist party
leaders at the Central Party School, during a meeting with Minister of National
Defense Gen. Cao Gangchuan, and during a meeting with President Hu Jintao that
followed the Strategic Rocket Forces visit.
Hu supports closer military-to-military ties with the United States and said
he's looking forward to seeing the fruits of Cao's and Rumsfeld's renewed
personal commitment to ensuring progress is made, officials told reporters.