October 20, 2005

One By One They Come To Beijing

BEIJING, OCTOBER 18-20, 2005 — Almost 31 years after his first trip to China, Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld arrived today for his first official visit, the latest in a string of executives laying the groundwork for President Bush's November meetings in the Chinese capital.

One by one they've come to meet with China's foremost leaders including President Hu Jintao — first Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in an unpublicized one day summit July 10, followed by her Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick in August, USA Pacific Commander (Navy) Admiral William Fallon in September, and Treasury Secretary John Snow and former number two at the Pentagon now World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz who both departed just yesterday.

Why Beijing? Could it be that as scandal swirls about the White House and threats of criminal indictments loom around Executive staffers many of President Bush's closest cabinet members are seeking refuge overseas?

Or is there an important breakthrough in America's response to the "Chinese juggernaut"? Peter Brookes of the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation (famous for its sinophobia) promises "substantive meetings" when Bush gets to Beijing next month.

On the way to the Beijing, Rumsfeld told a British newspaper he stayed away from China until now because of the EP-3 spy plane incident in 2001. And he continues to stress his concerns about China's military expenditures to the American press.

But upon arrival all was smiles. Rumsfeld met with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister General Cao Gangchuan (see photo above) and will meet with President Hu Jintao soon. As in the USA, President Hu is also "commander-in-chief" of the country's armed forces.

Rumsfeld's visit will address the usual strategic concerns: for the USA, Chinese help with containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions and for China, insistence that the USA comply with the 1982 Joint Communiqué stipulating an end to Taiwan arms sales.

As an added bonus, Rumsfeld will be treated to a first ever visit to the Chinese ICBM control room outside the capital.

Next stop for Rumsfeld is a rally for American troops in South Korea followed by visits to Mongolia, Kazakhstan (where Secretary of State Rice departed last week empty-handed in her efforts to diminish Chinese influence), and Lithuania.

President Bush's trip to Beijing starts November 19 after the APEC 2005 summit in South Korea.


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