Robert Gates In China

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , , ,

General Xu Robert Gates

While the photo is from the fall of 2009, it is perhaps representative of the tone and history regarding the PLA’s ‘tepid’ and ‘lukewarm’ responses to the benign and non-threatening ideas floated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates during his current trip to China. 

Still, tepid and lukewarm are better than chilly (or none at all).  None at all has been the status quo since Chinese mil-to-mil exchanges with the U.S. in January 2010.

From the Washington Post on Gates’ trip to China. 

Chinese Minister of Defense Liang Guangjie…denied that China’s military modernization, and its development of systems such as an aircraft carrier-killing ballistic missile, anti-satellite weapons and a new stealth fighter, posed a threat to the United States.

Liang reacted tepidly to Gates’s proposal that the U.S. and Chinese militaries engage in a wide-ranging strategic dialogue on nuclear posture, cyber-warfare and North Korea, saying the PLA was "studying it."

Liang’s lukewarm reaction to Gates’s proposals reflects a continued uncertainty within the PLA about whether to embrace better ties with the United States; it also underscores the sense that the PLA was strong-armed by China’s political leadership into welcoming Gates to China for this trip.

For years, U.S. officials have also sought talks with China’s military on its nuclear weapons posture, cyber-warfare and other sensitive issues, such as contingencies on the Korean peninsula.

When the PLA (err, China) broke mil-to mil ties in January 2010, they put conditions on the U.S. for the suspension to end.

The United States, it said, had to stop weapons sales to Taiwan, end its naval and air-based surveillance activities off China’s coast and do away with laws and regulations that restrict U.S. interaction with China’s military.

Washington has done none of the above, but thanks to Hu’s political exigencies, ties have been restored anyway. Still, Liang put the onus on the Pentagon if it wanted further progress. And he refused to rule out additional suspensions if Washington sells another batch of weapons to Taiwan.

Why aren’t the arms controllers barking for an arms control agreement with China?  Arms control like New START is of the angels but for China…crickets.

If China wants to be a great power without undue risk of internal self-destruction, its political leadership is going to need a military that’s under better political control.  And the PLA is going to have to grow up and drop the hormonal teen act.

 

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