U.S. denied access
The Pentagon is disappointed that U.S. military observers were barred from observing the major China-led military exercise in Russia this month called Peace Mission 2007. It was held under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an emerging anti-U.S. alliance of China, Russia and several Central Asian nations.
The exercises began Aug. 9 in China’s western province and moved to Russia with 6,000 troops from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
“Our inability to obser ve Peace Mission 2007 is a missed oppor tunity,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “Moreover, it underscores that there is a long way to go in terms of China’s willingness to afford the United States access, transparency and reciprocity in the same manner and spirit we have demonstrated, for example, with our opening of Valiant Shield to PRC observers in 2006.”
Chinese military personnel were given unprecedented access to U.S. military forces during the major naval exercise last year.
Mr. Whitman noted that despite the recent snub, “we have seen incremental improvement in PRC transparency in military and security affairs.”
Richard Fisher, a specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it was a mistake to give the Chinese access to Valiant Shield because Beijing will use the intelligence gained in any future combat, and because there was no reciprocity.
“The [People’s Liberation Army] does not reciprocate by allowing us to observe Peace Mission because they view us a potential combatant, and do not want to give away any insights about them,” Mr. Fisher said, noting the snub argues for demanding “strict reciprocity” in all militar y exchanges with China.
“The operating assumption here is if we make nice with the nasty guard dog, the master will like us more,” he said. “China’s communist leadership is and will be forever hostile to democracies, and will never allow its PLA to be nice to any enemy.”