23 January 2011

Sino-U.S. Ties Back on Track, But for How Long?

Wendell Minnick, Sino-U.S. Ties Back on Track, But for How Long?Defense News, 17 January 2011.

Sino-U.S. military relations appear to be back on track after a Jan. 9-12 visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but analysts wonder how long the honeymoon will last with the pending U.S. release of a retrofit package for Taiwan’s aging F-16A/B fighter jets.

In meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and the country’s minister of national defense, Gen. Liang Guanglie, Gates encouraged Chinese leaders to participate in a strategic security dialogue that would cover nuclear, missile defense, space and cyber issues.

Gates also visited the Second Artillery Corps, which operates China’s strategic missile arsenal, at the invitation of Gen. Jiang Zhiyuan. Gates reciprocated by inviting Jiang to visit the U.S. Strategic Command. …

Skeptics in the U.S. believe the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was “compelled to participate” in discussions with Gates to “avoid disrupting President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington later this month,” said Andrew Erickson, a China defense specialist at the U.S. Naval War College. “They believe that the PLA’s senior leadership has no intention of actually following through with substantive initiatives” after Hu’s visit. …


For modest, realistic suggestions for possible U.S.-China security engagement and cooperation, see Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li, eds., China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010).