U.S. de­nied ac­cess

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

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.”

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