Chi­nese gen­eral’s U.S. visit for nuke talks de­ferred

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Bill Gertz

China’s mil­i­tary is de­lay­ing the U.S. visit of its strate­gic nu­clear forces com­man­der de­spite a prom­ise by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao last year that the gen­eral would hold talks with the U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand leader.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the com­man­der of U.S. nu­clear forces, re­cently in­vited his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Gen. Jing Zhiyuan,to­vis­itS­trate­gicCom­mand head­quar­ters in Ne­braska for talks on nu­clear forces.

How­ever, Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have not re­sponded to the in­vi­ta­tion, and in­stead pri­vately in­formed the Pen­tagon that sched­ul­ing prob­lems will de­lay the visit un­til later this year at the ear­li­est.

Gen. Jing trav­eled ex­ten­sively through­out South Amer­ica last month, but did not visit the United States.

Caro­lineBartholomew,chair­man ofthe­con­gres­sion­alU.S.-Chi­naE­co­nomic and Se­cu­rity Re­view Com­mis­sion, said Bei­jing’s fail­ure to re­spond to the U.S. of­fice is a con­cern.

“Thecom­mis­sion­rec­om­mended a [U.S.-China] di­a­logue on strate­gic­forces is­sues to en­sure that both China and the United States un­der­stand the lines in the sand,” she said. “There are cer­tain acts which have tra­di­tion­ally been and will con­tinue to be seen as hos­tile, such as blind­ing satel­lites and threat­en­ing a nu­clear at­tack on our cities.”

Mis­sBartholomew­said“we­must hope that Gen. Jing’s lack of re­spon­sive­ness to the in­vi­ta­tion to visit U.S.Strate­gicCom­mand,de­spitethe fact that he has been else­where in the West­ern Hemi­sphere, does not re­flect Chi­nese gov­ern­ment dis­in­ter­est in strate­gic warn­ing and mu­tual threat-re­duc­tion mea­sures.”

The­p­ro­posed­vis­it­bythenu­clear com­man­der­was­raised­pri­vatelyby Pres­i­dent Bush in April dur­ing his meet­ing with Mr. Hu, who agreed that the visit would take place.

AWhiteHouse­of­fi­cialt­woweeks ago con­firmed that the pres­i­dent toldMr.HuthePen­tagonwantsa­di­a­logue with Gen. Jing on nu­clear strat­egy and doc­trine, and Mr. Hu replied that China would like such talks.

How­ever, Chi­nese of­fi­cials pri­vately in­formed the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion later that the visit can­not take place this month, and that in Fe­bru­ary and March, Gen. Jing’s travel will be lim­ited be­cause of the Chi­nese New Year and the up­com­ing Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party Congress, de­fense of­fi­cials said.

“They’re in­di­cat­ing later in 2007. We want it ear­lier,” one of­fi­cial said, not­ing that the strate­gic nu­clear dis­cus­sions are “near the top” of U.S. pri­or­i­ties in mil­i­tary-ex­change pro­grams with China’s mil­i­tary.

Michael Pills­bury, a for­mer Pen­tagon pol­icy-maker, said a meet­ing would help “to re­duce mis­per­cep­tions” and so “it’s bet­ter to have it sooner than later.”

Ama­jor­wor­ry­ofde­fense­of­fi­cials is a pro­posal be­ing worked on by some U.S. gov­ern­ment con­sul­tants who would like Gen. Cartwright to of­fer­tosharenu­clear-weapon­stech­nol­ogy with China dur­ing the Jing visit. The arms-con­trol of­fi­cials fear that un­less U.S. “nu­clear sus­tain­abil­ity” know-how is shared, China will­ex­pandit­snu­cle­ar­arse­nalorre- sume un­der­ground nu­clear tests.

“This has to be stopped,” said one de­fense of­fi­cial op­posed to the plan, which­has­notreached­se­nior­pol­i­cy­mak­ers in the Pen­tagon or the Strate­gic Com­mand.

Na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials op­pose shar­ing nu­clear tech­nol­ogy with China for many rea­sons, in­clud­ing Bei­jing’s past nu­clear es­pi­onage. China also sup­plied Pak­istan with nu­clear-weapon­stech­nol­o­gy­dur­ing the1980s.Thetech­nol­ogy,in­clud­ing small-war­head­de­sign­data,was­sold to Libya, Iran and North Korea by the Pak­istani sup­plier net­work of A.Q. Khan.

The Jing visit is be­ing sought as a first step in try­ing to learn more about top-se­cret Chi­nese nu­clear forces.

“We’renot­look­ing­forany­thin­gin termso­fana­gree­ment,”thede­fense of­fi­cial said. “We want it to be more ofadis­cus­sion­about­their­in­ten­tions and pol­icy, and if there are changes be­ing de­bated, what are they.”

China’snu­cle­ar­force­sare­hid­den in un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties close to its nu­clear mis­sile and bomber forces. Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have shrouded­de­tail­soft­heir­na­tion’snu­clear pro­grams in se­crecy — es­ti­mate­soft­henum­berofnu­cle­ar­war­heads range from 100 to as many as 900 — for fear the United States will use any in­for­ma­tion it gets for tar­get-data for bomb­ing raids.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao said of­fi­cials will meet with a U.S. strate­gic nu­clear forces com­man­der, but China’s mil­i­tary has de­layed the visit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.