China welcomes Gates' visit at an 'approriate' time

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, July 1, 2010
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A senior Chinese general said Thursday China will welcome a visit by U.S. defense chief Robert Gates at a time "appropriate to both sides."

"We welcome his visit to China at a time workable for both sides," General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), said after being asked if it is possible for Gates to visit China in coming months.

Gates was scheduled to visit China in 2010, in accordance with a China- U.S. joint communique signed last November when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Beijing.

The joint communique also outlined other important military exchange programs in 2010, including a visit to Beijing by Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and a visit to Washington by Chief of General Staff of the Chinese PLA Chen Bingde.

But in January, China cut off some military exchanges with the U.S. following the Pentagon's decision to sell a nearly 6.4-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China.

Subsequently, none of the planned high-level visits between the two militaries have been possible over the last six months.

The last U.S. military official to visit China was Robert Willard, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. He came to China in late May as a member of U.S. delegation to the second Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the two countries.

Gates complained at a security forum in Singapore in early June about China's dismissal of his request to visit Beijing during his Asia tour, saying Beijing's attitude "makes little sense."

In response, Ma reiterated the major obstacles hampering growth of China-U.S. military ties.

Ma said an improvement in military ties depends on the United States respecting China's core interests and major concerns.

He urged the United States to be sincere about sensitive issues, including arms sale to Taiwan and U.S. naval ships' and aircraft's reconnaissance missions in Chinese waters.

Ma also urged the U.S. to create favorable conditions for the restoration and growth of bilateral military ties.


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