Gates visit won't heal China, US ties
11 January 2011, 13:42
Beijing - A visit by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to China cannot itself solve deep military distrust between the two powers, state media said on Tuesday.
The Obama administration has made stronger military contacts one of the tangible gains it hopes to win from Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington next week, after a rocky 2010 when China suspended military contacts to protest US arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.
Gates is due to meet Hu in Beijing later in the day.
Gates and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie agreed on Monday that stronger military ties were needed to avoid missteps between the two global giants, but China's mistrust remains deep, commentaries in state newspapers said.
"Even though the US defence chief's presence in Beijing marks a positive development in normalising bilateral military ties, it would be too optimistic to conclude that military exchanges ... will be plain sailing after a single visit," the official China Daily said in an editorial.
Washington's continued insistence on selling weapons to Taiwan, US surveillance along the Chinese coast and its "growing penchant for projecting its military power in the Asia Pacific" still needed to be addressed, it said.
"If the Pentagon really cares about building stronger ties between the two militaries, it should show sincerity in removing these obstacles," the English-language newspaper said.
"Regrettably, the US finds fault in China's so-called military build-up from time to time, turning a deaf ear to China's repeated explanation that its military modernisation is purely defensive."
The Global Times, a popular tabloid run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said the United States was giving with one hand, and taking away with the other, by looking for dialogue but not ceasing exercises in waters near China.
"The US' two-handed moves to China aim to secure the absolute advantage and dominance over China by seeking dialogue on one hand and pressuring its borders on the other," it quoted Peng Guangqian, a military strategist with the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Sciences, as saying.
The military's Liberation Army Daily for its part defended China's military modernisation, which has caused alarm in neighbouring countries and in Washington. Gates has promised to enhance US capabilities in response.
"Some countries which have a far better international security situation than China have world-leading levels of military research," the newspaper said in an article about Gates's visit.
"In such circumstances, China should not be unjustly excoriated for developing a few modern weapons," it wrote.