U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress
U.S.-China Military Contacts:
Issues for Congress
Updated June 17, 2008
Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress
This CRS Report discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-
mil) contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and provides a record of
major contacts since 1993. The United States suspended military contacts with
China and imposed sanctions on arms sales in response to the Tiananmen Crackdown
in 1989. In 1993, the Clinton Administration began to re-engage the PRC leadership
up to the highest level and including China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army
(PLA). Renewed military exchanges with the PLA have not regained the closeness
reached in the 1980s, when U.S.-PRC strategic cooperation against the Soviet Union
included U.S. arms sales to China. Improvements and deteriorations in overall
bilateral relations have affected military contacts, which were close in 1997-1998 and
2000, but marred by the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, mistaken NATO bombing
of a PRC embassy in 1999, and the EP-3 aircraft collision crisis in 2001.
Since 2001, the Bush Administration has continued the policy of engagement
with China, while the Pentagon has skeptically reviewed and cautiously resumed a
program of military-to-military exchanges. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
in 2002, resumed the Defense Consultative Talks (DCT) with the PLA (first held in
1997) and, in 2003, hosted General Cao Gangchuan, a Vice Chairman of the Central
Military Commission (CMC) and Defense Minister. General Richard Myers
(USAF), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited China in January 2004, as the
highest ranking U.S. military officer to do so since November 2000. Visiting Beijing
in September 2005 as the Commander of the Pacific Command (PACOM), Admiral
William Fallon sought to advance mil-to-mil contacts, including combined exercises.
Secretary Rumsfeld visited China in October 2005, the first visit by a defense
secretary since William Cohen’s visit in 2000. Fallon invited PLA observers to the
U.S. “Valiant Shield” exercise that brought three aircraft carriers to waters off Guam
in June 2006. In July 2006, the highest ranking PLA officer and a CMC Vice
Chairman, General Guo Boxiong, visited the United States, the first visit by the
highest ranking PLA commander since 1998. Soon after becoming the PACOM
Commander, Admiral Timothy Keating visited China in May 2007.
Issues for the 110th Congress include whether the Administration has complied
with legislation overseeing dealings with the PLA and has determined a program of
contacts with the PLA that advances a prioritized list of U.S. security interests.
Oversight legislation includes the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1990-
FY1991 (P.L. 101-246); National Defense Authorization Act for FY2000 (P.L. 106-
65); and National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163). Skeptics
and proponents of military exchanges with the PRC have debated whether the
contacts have significant value for achieving U.S. objectives and whether the contacts
have contributed to the PLA’s warfighting capabilities that might harm U.S. security
interests. U.S. interests in military contacts with China include: communication,
conflict prevention, and crisis management; transparency and reciprocity; tension
reduction over Taiwan; weapons nonproliferation; strategic nuclear and space talks;
counterterrorism; and accounting for POW/MIAs. U.S. defense officials report
inadequate cooperation from the PLA, including denials of port visits at Hong Kong
by U.S. Navy ships in November 2007. This CRS Report will be updated.
Overview of U.S. Policy............................................1
Cooperation in the Cold War.....................................1
Suspensions after Tiananmen Crackdown...........................2
Policy Issues for Congress...........................................7
Joint Defense Conversion Commission.........................9
Past Reporting Requirement.................................9
Programs of Exchanges....................................10
Prohibitions in the FY2000 NDAA...........................10
Required Reports and Classification..........................11
Procurement Prohibition in FY2006 NDAA....................12
Leverage to Pursue U.S. Security Objectives.......................12
U.S. Security Interests.........................................18
Communication, Conflict Avoidance, and Crisis Management.....18
Transparency, Reciprocity, and Information-Exchange............20
Tension Reduction over Taiwan.............................22
Strategic Nuclear and Space Talks............................25
Counterterrorism and Olympic Security.......................26
Accounting for POW/MIAs.................................27
Record of Major Military Contacts Since 1993..........................30
List of Figures
Figure 1. Map - China’s Military Regions..............................7
List of Tables
Table 1. The PLA’s High Command..................................5
Table 2. Summary of Senior-Level Military Visits Since 1994..............6
Note: This CRS study was originally written at the request of the House Armed
Services Committee in the 108th Congress and is updated and made available for
general congressional use.
U.S.-China Military Contacts:
Issues for Congress
Overview of U.S. Policy
U.S. leaders have applied military contacts as one tool and point of leverage in
the broader policy toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The first part of
this CRS Report discusses policy issues regarding such military-to-military (mil-to-
mil) contacts. The second part provides a record of such contacts since 1993, when
the United States resumed exchanges after suspending them in response to the
Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989. Congress has exercised important oversight of the
military relationship with China.
Cooperation in the Cold War
Since the mid-1970s, even before the normalization of relations with Beijing,
the debate over policy toward the PRC has examined how military ties might advance
U.S. security interests, beginning with the imperatives of the Cold War.1 In January
1980, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown visited China and laid the groundwork for
a relationship with the PRC’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), intended
to consist of strategic dialogue, reciprocal exchanges in functional areas, and arms
sales. Furthermore, U.S. policy changed in 1981 to remove the ban on arms sales to
China. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger visited Beijing in September 1983.
In 1984, U.S. policymakers worked to advance discussions on military technological
cooperation with China.2 Between 1985 and 1987, the United States agreed to four
programs of Foreign Military Sales (FMS): modernization of artillery ammunition
production facilities; modernization of avionics in F-8 fighters; sale of four Mark-46
anti-submarine torpedoes; and sale of four AN/TPQ-37 artillery-locating radars.3
1 Michael Pillsbury, “U.S.-Chinese Military Ties?”, Foreign Policy, Fall 1975; Leslie Gelb,
“Arms Sales,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1976-77; Michael Pillsbury, “Future Sino-American
Security Ties: The View from Tokyo, Moscow, and Peking,” International Security, Spring
1977; and Philip Taubman, “U.S. and China Forging Close Ties; Critics Fear That Pace is
Too Swift,” New York Times, December 8, 1980.
2 Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly,
Testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs,
“Defense Relations with the People’s Republic of China,” June 5, 1984.
3 Department of State and Defense Security Assistance Agency, “Congressional Presentation
for Security Assistance, Fiscal Year 1992.”
Suspensions after Tiananmen Crackdown
The United States suspended mil-to-mil contacts and arms sales in response to
the Tiananmen Crackdown in June 1989. (Although the killing of peaceful
demonstrators took place beyond just Tiananmen Square in the capital of Beijing on
June 4, 1989, the crackdown is commonly called the Tiananmen Crackdown in
reference to the square that was the focal point of the nation-wide pro-democracy
movement.) Approved in February 1990, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act
for FY1990-FY1991 (P.L. 101-246) enacted into law sanctions imposed on arms
sales and other cooperation, while allowing for waivers in the U.S. national interest.
In April 1990, China canceled the program (called “Peace Pearl”) to upgrade the
avionics of the F-8 fighters.4 In December 1992, President Bush decided to close out
the four cases of suspended FMS programs, returning PRC equipment, reimbursing
unused funds, and delivering sold items without support.5
In the fall of 1993, the Clinton Administration began to re-engage the PRC
leadership up to the highest level and across the board, including the PLA. However,
results were limited and the military relationship did not regain the closeness reached
in the 1980s, when the United States and China cooperated strategically against the
Soviet Union and such cooperation included arms sales to the PLA. Improvements
and deteriorations in overall bilateral relations affected mil-to-mil contacts, which
had close ties in 1997-1998 and 2000, but were marred by the 1995-1996 Taiwan
Strait crisis, mistaken NATO bombing of the PRC embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999,
and the EP-3 aircraft collision crisis in 2001.
Since 2001, the George W. Bush Administration has continued the policy of
engagement with the PRC, while the Pentagon has skeptically reviewed and
cautiously resumed a program of mil-to-mil exchanges. Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld reviewed the mil-to-mil contacts to assess the effectiveness of the
exchanges in meeting U.S. objectives of reciprocity and transparency. Soon after the
review began, on April 1, 2001, a PLA Navy F-8 fighter collided with a U.S. Navy
EP-3 reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea.6 Upon surviving the collision,
the EP-3’s crew made an emergency landing on China’s Hainan island. The PLA
detained the 24 U.S. Navy personnel for 11 days. Instead of acknowledging that the
PLA had started aggressive interceptions of U.S. reconnaissance flights in December
2000 and apologizing for the accident, top PRC ruler Jiang Zemin demanded an
apology and compensation from the United States. Rumsfeld limited mil-to-mil
contacts after the crisis, subject to case-by-case approval, after the White House
4 Jane’s Defense Weekly, May 26, 1990.
5 Department of State, “Presidential Decision on Military Sales to China,” December 22,
6 CRS Report RL30946, China-U.S. Aircraft Collision Incident of April 2001: Assessments
and Policy Implications, updated October 10, 2001, coordinated by Shirley Kan.
objected to a suspension of contacts with the PLA as outlined in an April 30 Defense
Department memo. Rumsfeld told reporters on May 8, 2001, that he decided against
visits to China by U.S. ships or aircraft and against social contacts, because “it really
wasn’t business as usual.” Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz reported to
Congress on June 8, 2001, that mil-to-mil exchanges for 2001 remained under review
by Secretary Rumsfeld and exchanges with the PLA would be conducted “selectively
and on a case-by-case basis.” The United States did not transport the damaged EP-3
out of China until July 3, 2001.
The Bush Administration hosted PRC Vice President Hu Jintao in Washington
in the spring of 2002 (with an honor cordon at the Pentagon) and President Jiang
Zemin in Crawford, Texas, in October 2002. Afterwards, Secretary of Defense
Rumsfeld, in late 2002, resumed the Defense Consultative Talks (DCT) with the PLA
(first held in 1997) and, in 2003, hosted General Cao Gangchuan, a Vice Chairman
of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Defense Minister. (The CMC under
the Communist Party of China (CPC) commands the PLA. The Ministry of Defense
and its titles are used in contacts with foreign militaries.) General Richard Myers
(USAF), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited China in January 2004, as the
highest ranking U.S. military officer to do so since November 2000. (See the tables
on the PLA’s high command and the summary of senior-level military visits.)
Visiting Beijing in January 2004, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
met with PRC leaders, including General Cao Gangchuan. Armitage acknowledged
that “the military-to-military relationship had gotten off to a rocky start,” but noted
that the relationship had improved so that “it’s come pretty much full cycle.” He said
that “we’re getting back on track with the military-to-military relationship.”7
Still, mil-to-mil interactions remained “exceedingly limited,” according to the
Commander of the Pacific Command, Admiral William Fallon, who visited China
to advance mil-to-mil contacts in September 2005. He discussed building
relationships at higher and lower ranks, cooperation in responding to natural disasters
and controlling avian flu, and reducing tensions. Fallon also said that he would seek
to enhance military-to-military contacts with China and invite PLA observers to U.S.
military exercises, an issue of dispute in Washington.8 In October 2005, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited China, the first visit by a defense secretary since
William Cohen’s visit in 2000. After Rumsfeld’s visit, which was long sought by the
PLA for the perceived full resumption of the military relationship, General Guo
Boxiong, a CMC Vice Chairman and the PLA’s highest ranking officer visited the
United States in July 2006, the first such visit since General Zhang Wannian’s visit
7 Department of State, “Deputy Secretary of State Richard ‘s Media Round Table,” Beijing,
China, January 30, 2004.
8 U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. William J. Fallon, press conference, Hong Kong, September
At a news conference on March 7, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said
that he did not see China as a “strategic adversary” of the United States, but “a
partner in some respects” and a “competitor in other respects.” Gates stressed the
importance of engaging the PRC “on all facets of our relationship as a way of
building mutual confidence.” Nonetheless, U.S. officials have expressed concerns
about inadequate “transparency” from the PLA, most notably when it tested an anti-
satellite (ASAT) weapon in January 2007. At a news conference in China on March
23, 2007, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, said
the primary concern for the bilateral relationship is “miscalculation and
misunderstanding based on misinformation.” Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Richard Lawless testified to the House Armed Services Committee on June 13, 2007,
that “in the absence of adequate explanation for capabilities which are growing
dynamically, both in terms of pace and scope, we are put in the position of having to
assume the most dangerous intent a capability offers.” He noted a lack of response
from the PLA about a U.S. offer in 2006 to talk about strategic nuclear weapons.
In November 2007, despite various unresolved issues, Secretary Gates visited
China, and the PLA agreed to a long-sought U.S. goal of a “hotline.” Later in the
month, despite a number of senior U.S. visits to China (particularly by U.S. Navy
Admirals and Secretary Gates) to promote the mil-to-mil relationship, the PRC
denied port calls at Hong Kong for U.S. Navy minesweepers in distress and for the
aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk for the Thanksgiving holiday and family reunions,
according to the PACOM Commander and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO),
Admirals Timothy Keating and Gary Roughead. In response, on November 28,
President Bush raised the problem with the PRC’s visiting Foreign Minister, and
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney lodged a demarche to the PLA.9
Congress has exercised oversight of various aspects of military exchanges with
China. Issues for Congress include whether the Administration has complied with
legislation overseeing dealings with the PLA and has determined a program of
contacts with the PLA that advances, and does not harm, U.S. security interests.
Section 902 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1990-FY1991 (P.L.
101-246) prohibits arms sales to China, among other stipulations, in response to the
Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989. Section 1201 of the National Defense Authorization
Act for FY2000 (P.L. 106-65) restricts “inappropriate exposure” of the PLA to
certain operational areas and requires annual reports on contacts with the PLA.
Section 1211 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163)
prohibits procurement from any “Communist Chinese military company” for goods
and services on the Munitions List, with exceptions for U.S. military ship or aircraft
visits to the PRC, testing, and intelligence-collection; as well as waiver authority for
the Secretary of Defense. (See detailed discussion below.)
9 “Navy: China ‘Not Helpful’ on Thanksgiving,” Associated Press, November 28, 2007;
White House press briefing, November 28, 2007; Washington Post, November 29, 2007.
AMSAcademy of Military Science
CMCCentral Military Commission
COSTINDCommission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense
CPCCommunist Party of China
DCTDefense Consultative Talks
DPMODefense POW/Missing Personnel Office
GADGeneral Armament Department
GLDGeneral Logistics Department
GPDGeneral Political Department
GSDGeneral Staff Department
MMCAMilitary Maritime Consultative Agreement
NDUNational Defense University
PLAAFPeople’s Liberation Army Air Force
PLANPeople’s Liberation Army Navy
Table 1. The PLA’s High Command
Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC
Chairman Hu JintaoCPC General Secretary; PRC President
Vice ChmGeneralGuo BoxiongPolitburo Member
Vice ChmGeneralXu CaihouPolitburo Member
MemberGeneralLiang GuanglieDefense Minister
MemberGeneralChen BingdeChief of General Staff (GSD)
MemberGeneralLi JinaiDirector of GPD
MemberGeneralLiao XilongDirector of GLD
MemberGeneralChang Wanquan Director of GADnd
MemberGeneralJing Zhiyuan Commander of the 2 Artillery
MemberAdmiralWu ShengliCommander of the Navy
MemberGeneralXu QiliangCommander of the Air Force
Notes: Jiang Zemin was installed as the previous chairman of the CPC’s CMC in November 1989
and remained in this position after handing other positions as CPC general secretary and PRC
president to Hu Jintao. Jiang had ruled as the general secretary of the CPC from June 1989 untilth
November 2002, when he stepped down at the 16 CPC Congress in favor of Hu Jintao. Jiang
concurrently represented the PRC as president from March 1993 until March 2003, when he steppedththth
down at the 10 National People’s Congress. At the 4 plenum of the 16 Central Committee in
September 2004, Jiang resigned as CMC chairman, allowing Hu to complete the transition of power.
At the same time, General Xu Caihou rose from a CMC member to a vice chairman, and thend
commanders of the PLA Air Force, Navy, and 2 Artillery rose to be CMC members for the first time
in the PLA’s history, reflecting greater attention to joint operations.
Table 2. Summary of Senior-Level Military Visits Since 1994
Defense Secretary/Defense Consultative
YearMinisterHighest Ranking OfficerTalks
1997John Shalikashvili1st DCT
1998William CohenZhang Wannian2nd DCT
2000William CohenHenry Shelton3rd DCT; 4th DCT
2004Richard Myers6th DCT
2005Donald Rumsfeld7th DCT
2006Guo Boxiong8th DCT
2007Robert GatesPeter Pace9th DCT
Figure 1. Map - China’s Military Regions
Policy Issues for Congress
Skepticism in the United States about the value of military exchanges with
China has increased after the experiences in the 1990s; crises like the PLA’s missile
exercises targeting Taiwan in 1995-1996, mistaken bombing of the PRC embassy in
Belgrade in 1999, and the F-8/EP-3 collision crisis of 2001; and changes in the U.S.
policy approach. Since 2002, President Bush has pursued a closer relationship with
the PRC. As the Defense Department gradually resumes the mil-to-mil relationship
in that context, policy issues for Congress include whether the Administration has
complied with legislation and has used leverage effectively in its contacts with the
PLA to advance a prioritized list of U.S. security interests, while balancing security
concerns about the PLA’s warfighting capabilities.
One issue for Congress in examining the military relationship with the PRC is
the role of Congress, including the extent of congressional oversight of the
Administration’s policy. Congress could, as it has in the past, consider options to:
!Host PLA delegations on Capitol Hill or meet them at other venues
!Engage with the PLA as an aspect of visits by Codels to China
!Receive briefings by the Administration before and/or after military
!Hold hearings on related issues
!Investigate or oversee investigations of prisoner-of-war/missing-in-
action (POW/MIA) cases (once under the specialized jurisdiction of
the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs)
!Write letters to Administration officials to express congressional
!Require reports from the Pentagon, particularly in unclassified form
!Review interactions at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
of the Pacific Command (PACOM) in Hawaii
!Fund or prohibit funding for certain commissions or activities
!Pass legislation on sanctions and exchanges with the PLA
!Assess the Administration’s adherence to laws on sanctions,
contacts, and reporting requirements
!Obtain and review the Department of Defense (DOD)’s program for
upcoming mil-to-mil contacts, particularly proposed programs
already discussed with the PLA.
Arms Sales. Congress has oversight of sanctions imposed after the
Tiananmen Crackdown that were enacted in Section 902 of the Foreign Relations
Authorization Act for FY1990 and FY1991 (P.L. 101-246). The sanctions continue
to prohibit the issuance of licenses to export Munitions List items to China, including
helicopters and helicopter parts, as well as crime control equipment. The President
has waiver authority.
Related to views of the U.S. ban on arms sales is the European arms embargo.
In January 2004, the European Union (EU) decided to reconsider whether to lift its
embargo on arms sales to China. On January 28, 2004, a State Department
spokesman acknowledged that the United States has held “senior-level” discussions
with France and other countries in the EU about the issue of whether to lift the
embargo on arms sales to China. He said, “certainly for the United States, our
statutes and regulations prohibit sales of defense items to China. We believe that
others should maintain their current arms embargoes as well. We believe that the
U.S. and European prohibitions on arms sales are complementary, were imposed for
the same reasons, specifically serious human rights abuses, and that those reasons
remain valid today.”10 At a hearing of the House International Relations Committee
on February 11, 2004, Representative Steve Chabot asked Secretary of State Colin
Powell about the EU’s reconsideration of the arms embargo against China, as
10 Department of State, press briefing by Richard Boucher, spokesman, January 28, 2004.
supported by France. Powell responded that he raised this issue with the foreign
ministers of France, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Germany, and expressed
opposition to a change in the EU’s policy at this time in light of the PLA’s missiles
arrayed against Taiwan, the referendums on sensitive political issues then planned
in Taiwan, and China’s human rights conditions.11
Joint Defense Conversion Commission. In China in October 1994,
Secretary of Defense William Perry and PLA General Ding Henggao, Director of the
Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense
(COSTIND),12 set up the U.S.-China Joint Defense Conversion Commission. Its
stated goal was to facilitate economic cooperation and technical exchanges and
cooperation in the area of defense conversion.
However, on June 1, 1995, the House National Security Committee issued
H.Rept. 104-131 (for the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1996) and
expressed concerns that this commission led to U.S. assistance to PRC firms with
direct ties to the PLA and possible subsidies to the PLA. The committee inserted a
section to prohibit the use of DOD funds for activities associated with the
commission. The Senate’s bill had no similar language. On January 22, 1996,
conferees reported in Conference Report 104-450 that they agreed to a provision
(Section 1343 in P.L. 104-106) to require the Secretary of Defense to submit semi-
annual reports on the commission. They also noted that continued U.S.-PRC security
dialogue “can promote stability in the region and help protect American interests and
the interests of America’s Asian allies.” Nonetheless, they warned that Congress
intends to examine whether that dialogue has produced “tangible results” in human
rights, transparency in military spending and doctrine, missile and nuclear
nonproliferation, and other important U.S. security interests. Then, in the National
Defense Authorization Act for FY1997 (P.L. 104-201), enacted in September 23,
1996, Congress banned DOD from using any funds for any activity associated with
the commission until 15 days after the first semi-annual report is received by
Congress. In light of this controversy, Secretary Perry terminated the commission
and informed Congress in a letter dated July 18, 1996.
Past Reporting Requirement. Also in 1996, the House National Security
Committee issued H.Rept. 104-563 (for the National Defense Authorization Act of
FY1997) that sought a “full accounting and detailed presentation” of all DOD
interaction with the PRC government and PLA, including technology-sharing,
conducted during 1994-1996 and proposed for 1997-1998, and required a classified
and unclassified report by February 1, 1997. DOD submitted the unclassified report
on February 21, 1997, and did not submit a classified version, saying that the
unclassified report was comprehensive and that no contacts covered in the report
included the release of classified material or technology sharing.
11 See CRS Report RL32870, European Union’s Arms Embargo on China: Implications and
Options for U.S. Policy, by Kristin Archick, Richard Grimmett, and Shirley Kan.
12 CRS Report 96-889, China: Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for
National Defense (COSTIND) and Defense Industries, by Shirley Kan.
Programs of Exchanges. Certain Members of Congress have written to the
Secretary of Defense to express concerns that mil-to-mil exchanges have not
adequately benefitted U.S. interests. In early 1999, under the Clinton Administration,
the Washington Times disclosed the existence of a “Gameplan for 1999 U.S.-Sino
Defense Exchanges,” and Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon confirmed that an
exchange program had been under way for years.13 Representative Dana
Rohrabacher wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense William Cohen, saying that “after
reviewing the ‘Game Plan,’ it appears evident that a number of events involving PLA
logistics, acquisitions, quartermaster and chemical corps representatives may benefit
PLA modernization to the detriment of our allies in the Pacific region and, ultimately,
the lives of own service members.” He requested a detailed written description of
In December 2001, under the Bush Administration, Senator Bob Smith and
Representative Dana Rohrabacher wrote to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
expressing concerns about renewed military contacts with the PRC. They contended
that military exchanges failed to reduce tensions (evident in the EP-3 crisis), lacked
reciprocity, and provided militarily-useful information to the PLA. They charged that
the Clinton Administration “largely ignored” the spirit and intent of legislation
governing military exchanges with the PLA, including a “violation” of the law by
allowing the PLA to visit the Joint Forces Command in August 2000, and, as
initiators of the legislation, they “reminded” Rumsfeld of the congressional15
Prohibitions in the FY2000 NDAA. Enacted on October 5, 1999, the
FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) set parameters to contacts
with the PLA. Section 1201 of the NDAA for FY2000 (P.L. 106-65) prohibits the
Secretary of Defense from authorizing any mil-to-mil contact with the PLA if that
contact would “create a national security risk due to an inappropriate exposure” of
the PLA to any of the following 12 operational areas (with exceptions granted to any
search and rescue or humanitarian operation or exercise):
!Force projection operations
!Advanced combined-arms and joint combat operations
!Advanced logistical operations
!Chemical and biological defense and other capabilities related to
weapons of mass destruction
!Surveillance and reconnaissance operations
!Joint warfighting experiments and other activities related to
transformations in warfare
!Military space operations
!Other advanced capabilities of the Armed Forces
!Arms sales or military-related technology transfers
13 Bill Gertz, “Military Exchanges with Beijing Raises Security Concerns,” Washington
Times, February 19, 1999.
14 Dana Rohrabacher, letters to William Cohen, March 1, 1999 and March 18, 1999.
15 Bob Smith and Dana Rohrabacher, letter to Donald Rumsfeld, December 17, 2001.
!Release of classified or restricted information
!Access to a DOD laboratory.
The Secretary of Defense — rather than an authority in Congress or outside of
the Defense Department — is also required to submit an annual written certification
by December 31 of each year as to whether any military contact with China that the
Secretary of Defense authorized in that year was a “violation” of the restrictions.
At a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on March 9, 2006,
Admiral Fallon, Commander of the Pacific Command, raised with Representative
Victor Snyder the issue of whether to modify this legislation to relax restrictions on
contacts with the PLA.16 Skeptics say that it is not necessary to change or lift the law
to enhance exchanges, while the law contains prudent parameters that do not ban all
contacts. A third option would be for Congress or the Secretary of Defense to clarify
what type of mil-to-mil contact with the PLA would “create a national security risk
due to an inappropriate exposure.” At a hearing of the House Armed Services
Committee on June 13, 2007, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless
contended that limitations in the law should not change. The PLA objects to the U.S.
law, claiming that it restricts the military-to-military relationship.
Required Reports and Classification. Section 1201(f) of the NDAA for
FY2000 required an unclassified report by March 31, 2000, on past military-to-
military contacts with the PRC. The Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted
this report in January 2001.
Section 1201(e) requires an annual report, by March 31 of each year starting in
to-mil exchanges and contacts with the PLA, including past contacts, planned
contacts, the benefits that the PLA expects to gain, the benefits that DOD expects to
gain, and the role of such contacts for the larger security relationship with the PRC.
The law did not specify whether the report shall be unclassified and/or classified. In
the report submitted in January 2001 (on past mil-to-mil exchanges), the Pentagon
stated that “as a matter of policy, all exchange activities are conducted at the
unclassified level. Thus, there is no data included on the section addressing PLA
access to classified data as a result of exchange activities.” On June 8, 2001, Deputy
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz signed and submitted an unclassified report on
the mil-to-mil exchanges in 2000 under the Clinton Administration and did not
provide a schedule of activities for 2001, saying that the 2001 program was under
review by the Secretary of Defense.
However, concerning contacts with the PLA under the Bush Administration,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld submitted reports on military exchanges with
China in May 2002, May 2003, and May 2005 (for 2003 and 2004) that were
16 House Armed Services Committee, hearing on the FY2007 Budget for PACOM, March
Tony Capaccio, “Fallon Wants to Jumpstart Military Contacts between U.S., China,”
Bloomberg, March 13, 2006.
classified “Confidential” and not made public.17 In July 2006, Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld submitted an unclassified report on contacts in 2005.18 Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates submitted an unclassified report in June 2007 for 2006.19
In March 2008, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England submitted an unclassified
report to Congress for 2007.20
Procurement Prohibition in FY2006 NDAA. Section 1211 of the National
Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (signed into law as P.L. 109-163 on January
for goods and services on the Munitions List, with exceptions for U.S. military ship
or aircraft visits to the PRC, testing, and intelligence-collection; as well as waiver
authority for the Secretary of Defense. Original language reported by the House
Armed Services Committee in H.R. 1815 on May 20, 2005, would have prohibited
the Secretary of Defense from any procurement of goods or services from any such
company. S. 1042 did not have similar language. During conference, the Senate
receded after limiting the ban to goods and services on the U.S. Munitions List;
providing for exceptions for procurement in connection with U.S. military ship or
aircraft visits, testing, and intelligence-collection; and authorizing waivers. The
House passed the conference report (H.Rept. 109-360) on December 19, 2005, and
the Senate agreed to it on December 21, 2005.
Leverage to Pursue U.S. Security Objectives
Objectives. At different times, under the Clinton and Bush Administrations,
DOD has pursued exchanges with the PLA to various degrees of closeness as part of
the policy of engagement in the bilateral relationship with China. The record of the
mil-to-mil contacts in over ten years can be used to evaluate the extent to which those
contacts provided tangible benefits to advance U.S. security goals.
The Pentagon’s last East Asia strategy report issued by Secretary of Defense
Cohen in November 1998 placed “comprehensive engagement” with China in third
place among nine components of the U.S. strategy. It said that U.S.-PRC dialogue
was “critical” to ensure understanding of each other’s regional security interests,
reduce misperceptions, increase understanding of PRC security concerns, and build
confidence to “avoid military accidents and miscalculations.” While calling the
strategic non-targeting agreement announced at the summit in June 1998 a
“symbolic” action, it asserted that the action “reassured both sides and reaffirmed our
constructive relationship.” The report further pointed to the presidential hotline set
17 Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, “Inside the Ring,” Washington Times, May 17, 2002;
author’s discussions with the Defense Department and Senate Armed Services Committee.
18 Secretary of Defense, “Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 1201(e) of the FY2000
National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-65),” July 19, 2006.
19 Secretary of Defense, “Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 1201(e) of the FY2000
National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 106-65),” June 22, 2007.
20 Deputy Secretary of Defense, “Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 1201(e) of the FY
up in May 1998, Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA), and Defense
Consultative Talks (DCT) as achievements in engagement with the PLA.21
Under the Bush Administration, in a report to Congress on June 8, 2001,
required by the NDAA for FY2000, P.L. 106-65, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz wrote that military exchanges in 2000 sought to:
!foster an environment conducive to frank, open discussion
!complement the broader effort to engage the PRC
!reduce the likelihood of miscalculations regarding cross-strait issues.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told reporters on May 31, 2002,
that “we believe that the contact between American military personnel and Chinese
military personnel can reduce misunderstandings on both sides and can help build a
better basis for cooperation when opportunities arise. So we’d like to enhance those
opportunities for interaction but we believe that to be successful we have to have
principles of transparency and reciprocity. It’s very important that there’s mutual
benefit to both sides.... The more each country knows about what the other one is
doing, the less danger is there, I believe, of misunderstanding and confrontation.”22
In agreeing to discuss a resumption of mil-to-mil contacts, Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld told reporters on June 21, 2002, that Assistant Secretary of Defense
Peter Rodman would talk to the PLA about the principles of transparency,
reciprocity, and consistency for mil-to-mil contacts that Rumsfeld stressed to Vice
President Hu Jintao at the Pentagon in May 2002.
After the fifth DCT in December 2002, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Douglas Feith said that if contacts are structured property, “they will serve our
interests, they will serve our common interests. And the principal interest is in
reducing the risks of mistake, miscalculation, and misunderstanding. If these
military-to-military exchanges actually lead to our gaining insights into Chinese
thinking and policies and capabilities and the like, and they can gain insights into
ours, then it doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily agree on everything, but it at least means
that as we’re making our policies, we’re making them on the basis of accurate
In March 2008, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England defined these
principal U.S. objectives in the annual report to Congress on contacts with the PLA:
!support the President’s overall policy goals regarding China;
!prevent conflict by clearly communicating U.S. resolve to maintain
peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region;
!lower the risk of miscalculation between the two militaries;
21 Secretary of Defense, The United States Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacific
22 Department of Defense, “Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s Interview with Phoenix
Television,” May 31, 2002.
23 Department of Defense, “Under Secretary Feith’s Media Roundtable on U.S.-China
Defense Consultative Talks,” December 9, 2002.
!increase U.S. understanding of China’s military capabilities and
!encourage China to adopt greater openness and transparency in its
military capabilities and intentions;
!promote stable U.S.-China relations;
!increase mutual understanding between U.S. and PLA officers;
!encourage China to play a constructive and peaceful role in the Asia-
Pacific region; to act as a partner in addressing common security
challenges; and to emerge as a responsible stakeholder in the world.
Debate. U.S. security objectives in mil-to-mil contacts with China have
included gaining insights about the PLA’s capabilities and concepts; deterrence
against a PLA use of force or coercion against Taiwan or U.S. allies; reduction in
tensions in the Taiwan Strait; strategic arms control; weapons nonproliferation in
countries such as like North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan; closer engagement with top
PRC leaders; freedom of navigation and flight; preventing dangers to U.S. military
personnel operating in proximity to the PLA; minimizing misperceptions and
miscalculations; and accounting for American POW/MIAs.
Skeptics of U.S.-PRC mil-to-mil contacts say they have had little value for
achieving these U.S. objectives. Instead that they contend that the contacts served
to inform the PLA as it builds its warfighting capability against Taiwan and the
United States, which it views as a potential adversary, and seemed to reward
belligerence. They oppose rehabilitation of PLA officers involved in the Tiananmen
Crackdown. They question whether the PLA has shown transparency and
reciprocated with equivalent or substantive access, and urge greater attention to U.S.
allies over China. From this perspective, the ups and downs in the military
relationship reflect its use as a tool in the bilateral political relationship, in which the
PRC at times had leverage over the United States. Thus, they contend, a realistic
appraisal of the nature of the PLA threat would call for caution in military contacts
with China, perhaps limiting them to exchanges such as strategic talks and senior-
level policy dialogues, rather than operational areas that involve military capabilities.
A former U.S. Army Attache in Beijing wrote in 1999 that under the Clinton
Administration, military-to-military contacts allowed PLA officers “broad access”
to U.S. warships, exercises, and even military manuals. He argued that “many of the
military contacts between the United States and China over the years helped the PLA
attain its goals [in military modernization].” He called for limiting exchanges to
strategic dialogue on weapons proliferation, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, freedom
of navigation, missile defense, etc. He urged policymakers not to “improve the
PLA’s capability to wage war against Taiwan or U.S. friends and allies, its ability to
project force, or its ability to repress the Chinese people.”24 He also testified to
Congress in 2000 that the PLA conceals its capabilities in exchanges with the United
States. For example, he said, the PLA invited General John Shalikashvili, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to see the capabilities of the 15th Airborne Army (in May
24 Larry Wortzel, “Why Caution is Needed in Military Contacts with China,” Heritage
Foundation Backgrounder, December 2, 1999.
Secretary of Defense Cohen to visit an Air Defense Command Center (in January
1998), but it was “a hollow shell of a local headquarters; it was not the equivalent of
America’s National Command Center” that was shown to PRC leaders.25
In 2000, Randy Schriver, a former official in the Office of the Secretary of
Defense, discussed lessons learned in conducting military exchanges during the
Clinton Administration and argued for limiting such exchanges. Schriver assessed
senior-level talks as exchanges of talking points rather than real dialogue, but
nonetheless helpful. He considered the MMCA a successful confidence-building
measure (not knowing the EP-3 aircraft collision crisis would occur less than one
year later in April 2001). He also said it was positive to have PLA participation in
multilateral fora and to expose younger PLA officers to American society. However,
Schriver said that the United States “failed miserably” in gaining a window on the
PLA’s modernization, gaining neither access as expected nor reciprocity; failed to
shape China’s behavior while allowing China to shape the behavior of some
American “ardent suitors”; and failed to deter the PLA’s aggression while whetting
the PLA’s appetite in planning against a potential American adversary. He disclosed
that the Pentagon needed to exert control over the Pacific Command’s contacts with
the PLA, with the Secretary of Defense issuing a memo to set guidelines. He also
called for continuing consultations with Congress.26
Warning of modest expectations for military ties and that such exchanges often
have been suspended to signal messages or retaliate against a perceived wrong action,
former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell contended in late 2005
that security ties can only follow, not lead, the overall bilateral relationship.27 After
serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in
the Bush Administration, Randy Schriver observed in 2007 that military engagement
with China has continued to pursue the “same modest, limited agenda that has been
in place for close to 20 years,” despite a high-level visit by Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates in November 2007.28
Proponents of military exchanges with the PRC point out that contacts with the
PLA cannot be expected to equal contacts with allies in transparency, reciprocity, and
consistency. They argue that the mil-to-mil contacts nonetheless promote U.S.
25 Larry Wortzel, Director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, testimony
on “China’s Strategic Intentions and Goals” before the House Armed Services Committee,
June 21, 2000.
26 Randy Schriver, former Country Director for China in the Office of the Secretary of
Defense during the Clinton Administration, and later Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Bush Administration, discussed military
contacts with China at an event at the Heritage Foundation on July 27, 2000. See Stephen
Yates, Al Santoli, Randy Schriver, and Larry Wortzel, “The Proper Scope, Purpose, and
Utility of U.S. Relations with China’s Military,” Heritage Lectures, October 10, 2000.
27 Kurt Campbell (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and the Pacific in
1995-2000) and Richard Weitz, “The Limits of U.S.-China Military Cooperation: Lessons
From 1995-1999,” Washington Quarterly, Winter 2005-2006.
28 Randall Schriver, “The Real Value in Gates’ Asia Trip,” Taipei Times, November 16,
interests and allow the U.S. military to gain insights into the PLA, including its top
leadership, that no other bilateral contacts provide. U.S. military attaches, led by the
Defense Attache at the rank of brigadier general or rear admiral, have contacts at
levels lower than the top PLA leaders and are subject to strict surveillance in China.
In addition to chances for open intelligence collection, the military relationship can
minimize miscalculations and misperceptions, and foster pro-U.S. leanings and
understanding, particularly among younger officers who might lead in the future.
Proponents caution against treating China as if it is already an enemy, since the
United States seeks China’s cooperation on international security issues. There
might be benefits in cooperation in military medicine to prevent pandemics of
diseases, like avian flu. During the epidemic of SARS (severe acute respiratory
syndrome) in 2003, it was a PLA doctor, Dr. Jiang Yanyong, who revealed the PRC
leadership’s coverup of SARS cases at premier PLA hospitals.29 Since the early
1990s, Congress and the Defense Department have viewed China as the key to
getting information to resolve the cases of POW/MIAs from the Korean War.
Citing several exchanges in 1998 (Commander of the Pacific Command’s visit
that included the first foreign look at the 47th Group Army, a U.S. Navy ship visit to
Shanghai, and naval consultative talks at Naval Base Coronado), the U.S. Naval
Attache in Beijing wrote that “the process of mutual consultation, openness, and
sharing of concerns and information needed to preclude future misunderstandings
and to build mutual beneficial relations is taking place between the U.S. and China’s
armed forces, especially in the military maritime domain.” He stressed that “the
importance of progress in this particular area of the Sino-American relationship
cannot be overestimated.”30
Two former U.S. military attaches posted to China maintained in a report that
“regardless of whether it is a high-level DoD delegation or a functional exchange of
medical officers, the U.S. military does learn something about the PLA from every
visit.” They advocated that “the United States should fully engage China in a
measured, long-term military-to-military exchange program that does not help the
PLA improve its warfighting capabilities.” They said, “the most effective way to
ascertain developments in China’s military and defense policies is to have face-to-
face contact at multiple levels over an extended period of time.” Thus, they argued,
“even though the PLA minimizes foreign access to PLA facilities and key officials,
the United States has learned, and can continue to learn, much about the PLA through
its long-term relationship.”31
Another former U.S. military attache in Beijing (from 1992 to 1995)
acknowledged that he saw many PLA drills and demonstrations by “showcase” units
and never any unscripted training events. Nonetheless, he noted that in August 2003,
29 John Pomfret, “Doctor Says Health Ministry Lied About Disease,” Washington Post,
April 10, 2003; “Feature: A Chinese Doctor’s Extraordinary April in 2003,” People’s Daily,
June 13, 2003.
30 Captain Brad Kaplan, USN, “China and U.S.: Building Military Relations,” Asia-Pacific
Defense Forum, Summer 1999.
31 Kenneth Allen and Eric McVadon, “China’s Foreign Military Relations,” Stimson Center,
the PLA arranged for 27 military observers from the United States and other
countries to be the first foreigners to observe a PLA exercise at its largest training
base (which is in the Inner Mongolia region under the Beijing Military Region). He
wrote that “by opening this training area and exercise to foreign observers, the
Chinese military leadership obviously was attempting to send a message about its
willingness to be more ‘transparent’ in order to ‘promote friendship and mutual trust
between Chinese and foreign armed forces.”32 However, in a second PLA exercise
opened to foreign observers, the “Dragon 2004” landing exercise at the Shanwei
amphibious operations training base in Guangdong province in September 2004, only
seven foreign military observers from France, Germany, Britain, and Mexico
attended, with no Americans (if invited).33
A retired PACOM Commander, Dennis Blair, co-chaired a task force on the
U.S.-China relationship. Its report of April 2007 recommended a sustained high-
level military strategic dialogue to complement the “Senior Dialogue” started by the
Deputy Secretary of State in 2005 and the “Strategic Economic Dialogue” launched
by the Secretary of Treasury in 2006.34
Perspectives. The Center for Naval Analyses found in a study that U.S. and
PRC approaches to military exchanges are “diametrically opposed,” thus raising
tensions at times. While the United States has pursued a “bottom-up” effort starting
with lower-level contact to work toward mutual understanding and then strategic
agreement, the PRC has sought a “trickle-down” relationship in which agreement on
strategic issues results in understanding and then allows for specific activities later.
The study said that “the PLA leadership regards the military relationship with the
U.S. as a political undertaking for strategic reasons — not a freestanding set of
military initiatives conducted by military professionals for explicitly military reasons.
Fundamentally, the military relationship is a vehicle to pursue strategic political
ends.” While recognizing that using the military relationship to enhance military
modernization is extremely important to the PLA, the study contended that “it is not
the key motive force driving the PLA’s engagement with DOD.” The report also
argued that because the PLA suspects the United States uses the military relationship
for deterrence, intelligence, and influence, “it seems ludicrous for them to expose
their strengths and weaknesses to the world’s ‘sole superpower’.” It noted that using35
“reciprocity” as a measure of progress “is sure to lead to disappointment.”
32 Dennis Blasko, “Bei Jian 0308: Did Anyone Hear the Sword on the Inner Mongolian
Plains?” RUSI Chinese Military Update, October 2003.
33 Xinhua, September 2, 2004; Liberation Army Daily, September 3, 2004; Jane’s Defense
Weekly, September 22, 2004.
34 Dennis Blair and Carla Hills, Task Force of the Council on Foreign Relations, “U.S.-
China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course,” April 10, 2007.
35 David Finkelstein and John Unangst, “Engaging DoD: Chinese Perspectives on Military
Relations with the United States,” CNA Corporation, October 1999.
U.S. Security Interests
With lessons learned, a fundamental issue in overall policy toward China is how
to use U.S. leadership and leverage in managing a prudent program of military
contacts that advances, and does not harm, a prioritized list of U.S. security interests.
The Pentagon could pursue such a program with focused control by the Office of the
Secretary of Defense; with consultation with Congress and public disclosures; and
in coordination with allies and friends in the region, such as Japan, South Korea,
Australia, and Singapore. Such a program might include these objectives.
Communication, Conflict Avoidance, and Crisis Management. The
various incidents of direct confrontation between the U.S. military and PLA might
call for greater cooperation with China to improve communication, conflict
avoidance, and crisis management. Analysts in China have studied the government’s
strengths and weaknesses in crisis management in light of the EP-3 crisis in 2001.36
The crisis over the EP-3 collision incident showed the limits in benefits to the United
States of pursuing personal relationships with PLA leaders, the consultations under
the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA), as well as the presidential
hotline. From the beginning of the crisis, PRC ruler Jiang Zemin pressed the United
States with a hard-line stance, while PLA generals followed without any greater
inflammatory rhetoric.37 During his second visit to China as PACOM Commander
in December 1997, Admiral Prueher said that “I remember wishing I had your
telephone number,” in response to a PLA naval officer’s question about Prueher’s38
thinking during the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995-1996. After becoming ambassador
to China in December 1999, Prueher was nonetheless frustrated when the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and the PLA would not answer the phone or return phone calls in
the immediate aftermath of the EP-3 collision crisis in April 2001.39
Still, some believe there could be benefits in fostering relationships with PLA
officers, both at the senior level and with younger, future leaders. While in Beijing
in January 2004, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers, said that
“it’s always an advantage to be able to pick up a telephone and talk to somebody that
you know fairly well. The relationship that I have with General Liang [Chief of
General Staff], the relationship that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has with his
counterpart, General Cao, is going to be helpful in that regard.”40 Likewise, visiting
36 Author’s discussions with government-affiliated research organizations in China in 2002.
37 CRS Report RL30946, China-U.S. Aircraft Collision Incident of April 2001: Assessments
and Policy Implications, coordinated by Shirley Kan.
38 LTC Frank Miller (USA), “China Hosts Visit by the U.S. Commander in Chief, Pacific,”
Asia Pacific Defense Forum, Spring 1998. The article ended by saying that “perhaps the
most important result of Adm. Prueher’s December 1997 trip to China is that, should there
be another crisis like the March 1996 Taiwan Strait Missile Crisis, Adm. Prueher now has
the phone number.”
39 John Keefe, “Anatomy of the EP-3 Incident, April 2001,” Center for Naval Analyses
report, January 2002.
40 Jim Garamone, “China, U.S. Making Progress on Military Relations,” American Forces
Beijing in September 2005, Admiral William Fallon, Commander of the Pacific
Command, referred to the value for his regional responsibilities to “pick up the
telephone and call someone I already know.”41
The MMCA, initialed at the first DCT in December 1997 and signed by
Secretary Cohen in Beijing in January 1998, only arranged meetings to talk about
maritime and air safety. There was no agreement on communication during crises
or rules of engagement. Despite the 2001 crisis, the Defense Department
encountered difficulties with the PLA in discussions under the MMCA, including
simply setting up meetings and PLA objections to U.S. activities in China’s claimed
200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) (even beyond the territorial sea up
to 12 nautical miles from the coast).42 In early 2005, U.S. defense and PLA officials
held a Special Policy Dialogue to discuss policy disputes and end an impasse in talks
over safety and operational concerns under the MMCA. The separate discussions
continued in the Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT) held in Washington in
December 2006. The first combined exercise held under the MMCA, a search and
rescue exercise (SAREX), did not take place until the fall of 2006, after eight years
of discussions. By 2007, the MMCA’s status and value were in greater doubt, and
no MMCA working groups or plenary meetings took place that year.
On February 25-26, 2008, in Qingdao, PACOM’s Director for Strategic
Planning and Policy (J-5), USMC Major General Thomas Conant, and PLA Navy
Deputy Chief of Staff Zhang Leiyu led an annual meeting under the MMCA, the first
since 2006. The PLA sought to amend the MMCA. The U.S. side opposed PLA
proposals to discuss policy differences at the MMCA meetings and to plan details of
future military exercises.43
For his nomination hearing to be the PACOM Commander on March 8, 2007,
Admiral Timothy Keating responded to questions from the Senate Armed Services
Committee by claiming that a dangerous incident similar to the EP-3 crisis would be
“less likely.” He also proposed negotiating with the PLA an “Incidents at Sea”
(INCSEA) protocol, like the one with the former Soviet Union (signed in 1972). For
Press Service, January 15, 2004.
41 U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. William J. Fallon, “Roundtable at Embassy PAS Program
Room,” Beijing, China, September 7, 2005. Adm. Fallon also said he consulted
“extensively” with retired Adm. Prueher, former Commander of the Pacific Command.
42 Chris Johnson, “DOD Will Urge China to Conduct Joint Search and Rescue Exercise,”
Inside the Navy, March 13, 2006.
43 Major General Thomas Conant and Rear Admiral Zhang Leiyu, “Summary of Proceedings
of the Annual Meeting Under the Agreement Between the Ministry of National Defense of
the People’s Republic of China and the Department of Defense of the United States of
America on Establishing a Consultative Mechanism to Strengthen Military Maritime
Safety,” Qingdao, February 26, 2008.
dealing with a possible crisis, Adm. Keating has referred to using a network of retired
Admirals who had commanded PACOM and had met with PLA commanders.44
After staff-level preliminary discussions in 2003, Under Secretary of Defense
Douglas Feith formally proposed a hotline for crisis management and confidence
building with the PLA at the DCT in February 2004. However, the PLA did not give
a positive signal until a defense ministerial conference in Singapore in June 2007,
when Lt. General Zhang Qinsheng, Deputy Chief of General Staff, said that the PLA
would discuss such a hotline. During Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ visit to
China in November 2007, the PLA agreed in principle to set up a defense telephone
link (DTL) with the Pentagon. The two sides signed an agreement in February 2008.
Another area for possible improved communication and prevention of accidents
is air traffic control in China, which is controlled by the PLA Air Force. In
December 2006, the PLA suddenly shut down the busy Pudong International Airport
near Shanghai and at least three other airports under the Nanjing Military Region,
ostensibly for training.45
Transparency, Reciprocity, and Information-Exchange. Critics of
military exchanges with China have charged that the United States gained limited
information about the PLA, while granting greater access to the PLA than the access
we received. A related question in the debate has concerned the extent to which the
issues of reciprocity and transparency should affect or impede efforts to increase
mutual understanding with the PLA.
According to the Pentagon’s report submitted to Congress in January 2001, in
to fly in an SU-27 fighter, see integration of the SU-27s into units, and see progress
in development of the F-10 fighter. Also in 1998, the PLA denied a U.S. request for
Secretary of Defense Cohen to visit China’s National Command Center. Still, the
PLA requested access to U.S. exercises showing warfighting capabilities, with two
cases of denial by the Pentagon in 1999: PLA requests to send observers to the U.S.
Army’s premier National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin in California and to
the Red Flag air combat training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada (see
entry on PLA delegation’s visit in March 1999).
Regarding controversial access to the U.S. Army’s NTC, visits by PLA
delegations in the 1990s included those in November 1994 and December 1997.46
Then, in December 1998, the U.S. Army reportedly resisted a PLA request for
greater, unprecedented access to the NTC in 1999, because the PLA asked for access
44 Forum on “Evolving and Enhancing Military Relations,” George Bush U.S.-China
Relations Conference 2007, Washington, DC, October 24, 2007.
45 Bruce Stanley, “China’s Congested Skies,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2007.
46 The PLA’s visit to the NTC in November 1994 was not the first time that the PLA
observed U.S. military training at Fort Irwin. In August 1985, the United States allowed the
PLA to observe military training at Fort Benning, GA; Fort Bragg, NC; and Fort Irwin, CA.
See Colonel Jer Donald Get, “What’s With the Relationship Between America’s Army and
China’s PLA?” Army War College monograph, September 15, 1996.
greater than that granted to other countries, the PLA would gain information to
enhance its warfighting, and the PLA was unlikely to reciprocate with similar access
for the U.S. military. The PLA wanted to observe, with direct access, the 3rd Infantry
Division (Mechanized) and the 82nd Airborne Division in a training exercise. Army
officials reportedly felt pressured by Admiral Prueher at PACOM and Secretary
Cohen to grant the request. In the end, the Pentagon announced on March 17, 1999,
that it denied the PLA’s request.47
The Defense Department’s 2003 report to Congress on PRC military power
charged that “since the 1980s, U.S. military exchange delegations to China have been
shown only ‘showcase’ units, never any advanced units or any operational training
or realistic exercises.”48 However, a Rand study in 2004 argued that the DOD’s
statement “appears to be inaccurate.” Rand reported that between 1993 and 1999,
U.S. visitors went to 51 PLA units. (PLA delegations visited 71 U.S. military units
between 1994 and 1999.) The report recommended that “the best way of dealing
with the reciprocity and transparency issue is to remove it as an issue.” It called for
proper planning and a focus on educational exchanges.49
In 2005, the PRC did not allow U.S. forces to observe the major combined PLA-
Russian military exercise, “Peace Mission 2005,” and prohibited U.S. participation
in the multilateral humanitarian exercise in Hong Kong, to which U.S. forces had
joined for years in the past.50 Still, PACOM Commander, Admiral Fallon, invited
PLA observers to the U.S. “Valiant Shield” exercise that brought three aircraft
carriers to waters off Guam in June 2006. In August 2007, the U.S. observers were
not invited to monitor the PRC-Russian combined exercise “Peace Mission 2007.”
Nonetheless, U.S. participants in contacts with the PLA have reported gaining
insights into PLA capabilities and concepts. The record of military contacts since
1993 (in the next part of this CRS Report) shows some instances when the PLA
allowed U.S. officials to be first-time foreign visitors with “unprecedented access:”
!Satellite Control Center in Xian (1995)
!Guangzhou Military Region headquarters (1997)
!Beijing Military Region’s Air Defense Command Center (1998)th
!47 Group Army (1998)
!Armored Force Engineering Academy (2000)
!Training base in Inner Mongolia (2003), with multinational access
!Zhanjiang, homeport of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet (2003)
!Beijing Aerospace Control Center (2004)
!2nd Artillery (missile corps) headquarters (2005)th
!39 Group Army (2006)
47 Sean Naylor, “Chinese Denied Full Access to the NTC,” Army Times, March 29, 1999.
48 Department of Defense, “Report on PRC Military Power,” July 2003.
49 Kevin Pollpeter, “U.S. China Security Management: Assessing the Military-to-Military
Relationship,” RAND Corporation, 2004.
50 Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman, remarks to the U.S.-China Economic and
Security Review Commission, March 16, 2006.
!FB-7 fighter at 28th Air Division (2006)
!Su-27 fighter and T-99 tank (2007)
!Jining Air Force Base (2007).
Tension Reduction over Taiwan. Tensions over Taiwan have continued
to flare since the mid-1990s, with many observers fearing the possibility of war
looming between the United States and China — two nuclear powers. The Bush
Administration maintains that it has managed a balanced policy toward Beijing and
Taipei that preserves peace and stability. Nonetheless, in April 2004, Assistant
Secretary of State James Kelly testified to Congress that U.S. efforts at deterring
China’s coercion “might fail” if Beijing becomes convinced that it must stop Taiwan
from advancing on a course toward permanent separation from China.51 Kelly also
noted that the PRC leadership accelerated the PLA buildup after 1999. The Pentagon
reported to Congress in May 2004 that the PLA has “accelerated” modernization,52
including a missile buildup, in response to concerns about Taiwan.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, that has governed U.S.
policy toward Taiwan since 1979, Congress has oversight of the President’s53
management of the cross-strait situation under the rubric of the “one China” policy.
While considering contacts with the PLA, the United States, after the 1995-199654
Taiwan Strait Crisis, has increased arms sales to and ties with Taiwan’s military.
Policy considerations include offering arms sales and cooperation to help Taiwan’s
self-defense; securing leverage over Beijing and Taipei; deterring aggression or
coercion; discouraging provocations from Beijing or Taipei; and supporting cross-
strait dialogue and confidence-building measures. In educational exchanges with the
PLA, questions have concerned whether to allow PLA officers to attend U.S. military
academies, colleges, or universities, and how that change could affect attendees from
Taiwan’s military; and whether to allow attendees from Taiwan at PACOM’s Asia-
Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS).
Concerning the APCSS courses in Honolulu, the Bush Administration’s policy
change to allow attendance from Taiwan has affected the PLA’s attendance and
interactions among the U.S., PRC, and other Asian militaries. In November 2001,
the Department of Defense directed APCSS to allow people from Taiwan to
participate in courses and conferences. Acknowledging the potential difficulty for
continuing participation by the PLA, the policy called for alternating invitations to
the PRC and Taiwan. In the summer of 2002, three fellows from Taiwan attended
the Executive Course, the first time that Taiwan sent students to APCSS.
51 Testimony at a hearing on “The Taiwan Relations Act: The Next 25 Years,” before the
House International Relations Committee, April 21, 2004.
52 Defense Department, “Annual Report on PRC Military Power,” May 29, 2004.
53 See CRS Report RL30341, China/Taiwan: Evolution of the “One China” Policy — Key
Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, by Shirley Kan.
54 See CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, by Shirley Kan.
Dissatisfied with alternating attendance with Taiwan’s representatives, the PLA
stopped sending representatives to APCSS courses and conferences by 2004.55
While the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954 terminated at the end of 1979 and the
TRA does not commit the United States to defend Taiwan, the TRA states that it is
U.S. policy, among other points:
!to consider any non-peaceful efforts to determine the future of
Taiwan, including boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and
security of the Western Pacific region and of “grave concern” to the
!to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character (making
available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in
such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a
sufficient self-defense capability);
!to maintain the U.S. capacity to resist any resort to force or other
forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or
economic system, of the people on Taiwan.
There is a question about the extent of the U.S. role in supporting cross-strait
dialogue. In Shanghai in July 2000, visiting Secretary of Defense Cohen said that the
Clinton Administration viewed the newly-elected President Chen Shui-bian of
Taiwan as offering hope for cross-strait reconciliation. Cohen stepped out of the
narrow mil-to-mil context and met with Wang Daohan, chairman of the PRC’s
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). This meeting raised
questions about the U.S. role in more actively encouraging cross-strait talks. Cohen
said that Chen showed flexibility after becoming president and that there was a
window of opportunity for changes.56 In contrast, in Beijing in February 2004,
visiting Under Secretary of Defense Feith said he did not discuss the contentious
issue raised by PLA leaders “at length” concerning referendums in Taiwan — an
issue over which the PRC threatened to use force. Feith said he did not discuss the
issue because it was not defense-related.57
There are complications in consideration of the question of Taiwan in the U.S.-
PRC military relationship. Not discussing Taiwan leaves the primary dispute subject
to misperception or miscalculation. However, linking the Taiwan question can raise
tensions and frustrations over a disagreement that military exchanges cannot solve.
A 2007 study co-authored by former PACOM Commander Dennis Blair called for
55 Author’s discussions at the Biennial Conference at APCSS on July 16-18, 2002; interview
with former PACOM staff.
56 Department of Defense, “Secretary Cohen’s Press Conference at the Shanghai Stock
Exchange,” Shanghai, China, July 14, 2000.
57 Joe McDonald (AP), “Feith Voices Concern Over Chinese Missiles,” Army Times,
February 11, 2004.
discussion of the PLA’s missile buildup against Taiwan and greater efforts to reduce
tensions across the Taiwan Strait.58
The PLA has suspended military exchanges in retaliation for steps in U.S. policy
toward Taiwan, especially continued arms sales. However, even as the PLA signaled
its displeasure and urged U.S. cooperation in “peace and stability” in the Taiwan
Strait, suspensions of military exchanges have played a counter-productive role by
raising U.S.-PRC tensions. Moreover, the PRC’s implicit linkage has targeted the
U.S. Navy in particular, precisely the service advocating engagement with the PLA.
After Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian proposed in June 2007 that Taiwan
hold a referendum on membership in the U.N. under the name “Taiwan” on the day
of the next presidential election (scheduled for March 22, 2008), Beijing opposed it
as a step toward Taiwan’s de jure independence. While joining the PRC in opposing
the referendum, the Bush Administration continued the U.S. policy of providing
some security assistance to Taiwan. After notifications to Congress of arms sales to
Taiwan in September and November 2007, the PRC protested by refusing to hold
military-to-military exchanges, including an annual MMCA meeting scheduled for
October 2007. The PRC also denied port visits at Hong Kong in November 2007 by
U.S. Navy minesweepers in distress (USS Patriot and USS Guardian) and by the
carrier group led by the USS Kitty Hawk for the Thanksgiving holiday and family
reunions, leading to official protests by the Pentagon to the PLA.
After sailing away from the denied port call in Hong Kong toward Japan, the
USS Kitty Hawk sailed through the Taiwan Strait, raising objections in China with
claims in PRC media of the strait as China’s “internal waterway.” When asked at a
news conference in Beijing on January 15, 2008, visiting PACOM Commander,
Admiral Keating said, “we don’t need China’s permission to go through the Taiwan
Strait. It’s international water. We will exercise our free right of passage whenever
and wherever we choose as we have done repeatedly in the past and we’ll do in the
future.” Two days later, when asked whether ships need the PRC’s permission to sail
through the Taiwan Strait, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson did not reject the
idea of permission from Beijing while claiming the strait as a “highly sensitive area.”
Weapons Nonproliferation. Despite past engagement with the PLA to seek
cooperation in weapons nonproliferation, the United States continues to have
concerns about PRC entities and has repeatedly imposed sanctions. Secretary of
Defense Cohen visited China and urged its commitment to weapons nonproliferation.
China did not join in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) announced
by President Bush in May 2003 (to interdict dangerous shipments).
There is a debate about the policy of the Bush Administration in engaging China
— and the PLA — in a multilateral effort to achieve the dismantlement of North
Korea’s nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. In April 2003, China hosted
trilateral talks among the United States, China, and North Korea. Then, China hosted
the first round of six-nation talks in August 2003 that also included Japan, South
58 Dennis Blair and Carla Hills, co-chairs of a task force at the Council on Foreign Relations,
“U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course,” April 10, 2007.
Korea, and Russia. The following month, PLA units replaced paramilitary People’s
Armed Police (PAP) units along China’s border with North Korea, apparently to
signal to Pyongyang the seriousness of the tensions and warn against provocative
actions. Beijing has hosted additional rounds of Six-Party Talks. After the third
round, PRC leaders hosted North Korea’s defense minister in July 2004. There have
been questions about whether China has been adequately assertive in using its
economic and political leverage over North Korea and whether China shares the U.S.
priority of the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement — not just a
freeze — of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. China, nonetheless, has
stated the common goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and demonstrated its
displeasure with North Korea after its missile and nuclear tests in 2006, including
during CMC Vice Chairman Guo Boxiong’s visit in the United States in 2006.59
Strategic Nuclear and Space Talks. As for a strategic nuclear dialogue,
the Clinton Administration had included nuclear forces as a priority area for
expanded military discussions, including during the visits to China in 1998 of
Secretary of Defense Cohen and President Clinton. In his visit to China in 1998,
President Clinton announced a bilateral agreement not to target strategic nuclear
weapons against each other, but it was symbolic and lacked implementation.
Since then, concerns have increased about China’s modernizing strategic
nuclear force and its “No First Use” policy, including whether it is subject to debate.
In July 2005, PLA Major General Zhu Chenghu, a dean at the PLA’s National
Defense University, told western journalists in Beijing that “if the Americans draw
their missiles and position-guided ammunition into the target zone on China’s
territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” and he included the
PLA’s naval ships and fighters as China’s “territory.” Zhu added that if the United
States is determined to intervene in a Taiwan scenario, “we will be determined to
respond, and we Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all cities east
of Xian [an ancient capital city in north-central China]. Of course, the Americans
will have to be prepared that hundreds of, or two hundreds of, or even more cities
will be destroyed by the Chinese.” Zhu also dismissed China’s “No First Use”60
policy, saying that it applied only to non-nuclear states and could be changed.
China’s experts argued that Zhu’s comments reflected China’s concerns about the61
challenges presented by U.S. defense policy and nuclear strategy for China’s policy.
When Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited China in October 2005, the PLA
accorded him the honor of being the first foreigner to visit the Second Artillery’s
headquarters. Its commander, General Jing Zhiyuan, assured Rumsfeld that China
59 CRS Report RL31555, China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Policy
Issues, by Shirley Kan.
60 Jason Dean, “Chinese General Lays Nuclear Card on U.S.’ Table,” Wall Street Journal,
July 15, 2005; Danny Gittings, “General Zhu Goes Ballistic,” Wall Street Journal, July 18,
61 World Security Institute China Program, “Opening the Debate on U.S.-China Nuclear
Relations,” China Security, Autumn 2005.
would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.62 General Jing later hosted the
chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton, at
the Second Artillery’s headquarters in August 2007.63
The Bush Administration invited General Jing to visit the U.S. Strategic
Command (STRATCOM), as discussed during a summit between Bush and Hu
Jintao in Washington in April 2006. Two months later, Assistant Secretary of
Defense Peter Rodman visited Beijing for the DCT and discussed the invitation to
the 2nd Artillery Commander. In October 2006, the STRATCOM commander,
General James Cartwright (USMC), expressed interest in engaging with the PLA on
space issues, including ways in which the two countries can avoid and handle
collisions or interference between satellites, and perceptions of attacks on satellites.64
However, General Jing declined to schedule a visit.65 On January 11, 2007, the PLA
conducted its first successful direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test by
launching a missile with a kinetic kill vehicle to destroy a PRC satellite.66 On June
13, 2007, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless testified to the House
Armed Services Committee that the PLA would not set a date to hold a dialogue on
nuclear policy, strategy, and doctrine. Lawless said that PLA strategic forces have
improved the capability to target the U.S. mainland.67 General Jing Zhiyuan has
traveled outside of China, but not to the United States, including a trip to Sweden and
Bulgaria in November 2007.
The PLA took some modest steps in December 2007, when the PLA delegation
to the 9th DCT included 2nd Artillery Deputy Chief of Staff Yang Zhiguo. In April
2008, the PLA and the Defense Department held talks in Washington on nuclear
strategy at the “experts” level. The PLA proposed to change the Pentagon-PLA
defense policy talks into a “Strategic Dialogue,” that would include nuclear policy.
Counterterrorism and Olympic Security. The PRC’s cooperation in
counterterrorism after the attacks on September 11, 2001, has not included military
cooperation with the U.S. military. The U.S. Commanders of the Central and Pacific
Commands, General Tommy Franks and Admiral Dennis Blair, separately confirmed
in April 2002 that China did not provide military cooperation (nor was it requested)
in Operation Enduring Freedom against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (e.g., basing,
staging, or overflight) and that China’s shared intelligence was not specific enough.
62 General Jing’s reiteration of the “no first use” pledge was cited by one official PRC media
report: “Rumsfeld Visits China; The Chinese Side Reiterates It Will Not Use Nuclear
Weapons First,” Zhongguo Tongxun She [New China News Agency], October 20, 2005.
63 Xinhua and Associated Press, August 27, 2007.
64 Jeremy Singer, “Cartwright Seeks Closer Ties with China, Russia,” Space News, October
65 Bill Gertz, “Chinese General’s U.S. Visit for Nuke Talks Deferred,” Washington Times,
January 15, 2007.
66 See CRS Report RS22652, China’s Anti-Satellite Weapon Test, April 23, 2007, by Shirley
67 House Armed Services Committee, hearing on China: Recent Security Developments,
June 13, 2007.
Also, the Pentagon issued a report in June 2002 on the international coalition fighting
terrorism and did not include China among the countries providing military
contributions. China has provided diplomatic support, cited by the State Department.
U.S.-PRC counterterrorism cooperation has been limited, while U.S. concerns have
increased about the PRC’s increased influence in the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) and its call for U.S. withdrawals from Central Asia, and about
PRC-origin small arms and anti-aircraft missiles found in Afghanistan and Iraq.68
Some have urged caution in military cooperation with China on this front, while
others see benefits for the U.S. relationship with China and the war on terrorism.
Senator Bob Smith and Representative Dana Rohrabacher wrote Secretary of Defense
Rumsfeld in late 2001, to express concerns about renewed military contacts with
China. In part, they argued that “China is not a good prospect for counterterrorism
cooperation,” because of concerns that China has practiced internal repression in the
name of counterterrorism and has supplied technology to rogue regimes and state
sponsors of terrorism.69 In contrast, a report by Rand in 2004 urged a program of
security management with China that includes counterterrorism as one of three
As preparations intensify for the summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, a policy
issue concerns the extent to which the United States, including the U.S. military,
should support security at the games to protect U.S. citizens and should cooperate
with the PLA and the paramilitary PAP. With concerns about internal repression by
the PRC regime in the Tiananmen Crackdown of June 1989 and after, U.S. sanctions
(in Section 902 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1990-FY1991, P.L.
101-246) have denied the export to China of defense articles/services, including
helicopters, as well as crime control equipment. Presidential waivers are authorized.
A precedent was set in 2004, when various U.S. departments, including the
Department of Defense, provided security assistance for the Olympic games in
Athens, Greece, in 2004. On June 22, 2006, at a hearing of the House Armed
Services Committee, Brigadier General John Allen, the Principal Director for Asian
and Pacific Affairs at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, testified that the
Pentagon started discussions with China regarding security cooperation for the 2008
Olympics. However, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless testified
to the House Armed Services Committee on June 13, 2007, that China has not
accepted offers from the Defense Department to assist in Olympic security.
Accounting for POW/MIAs. For humanitarian reasons or to advance the
broader U.S.-PRC relationship, the PLA has been helpful in U.S. efforts to resolve
POW/MIA cases from World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. In
February 2001, the Defense Department characterized PRC assistance to the United
68 See CRS Report RL33001, U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S.
Policy, by Shirley Kan.
69 Senator Bob Smith and Representative Dana Rohrabacher, letter to Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, December 17, 2001.
70 Rand, “U.S.-China Security Management: Assessing the Military-to-Military
Relationship,” July 2004.
States in recovering remains from World War II as “generous,” citing the missions
in 1994 in Tibet and in 1997-1999 in Maoer Mountain in southern China.71
However, for 16 years — even as the survivors of those lost in the Korean War
were aging and dying — the United States faced a challenge in securing the PLA’s
cooperation in U.S. accounting for POW/MIAs from the Korean War. Despite visits
by the Director of the Defense POW/MIA Office and other senior U.S. military
leaders to China and improved overall bilateral relations, the United States was not
able to announce progress in obtaining cooperation from the PLA until 2008.
In April 1992, a military official in Eastern Europe supplied a report to then
Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, alleging that “several dozen” American military
personnel captured in the Korean War (1950-1953) were sent to a camp in the
Northeastern city of Harbin in China where they were used in psychological and
medical experiments before being executed or dying in captivity.72 In May 1992, the
State Department raised the issue of POW/MIAs with the PRC, saying it was a
“matter of the highest national priority,” and in June 1992, the Senate Select
Committee on POW/MIA Affairs received information from the Russian government
indicating that over 100 American POWs captured in the Korean War were
interrogated by the Soviet Union and possibly sent to China.73 The United States also
presented to the PRC a list of 125 American military personnel still unaccounted for
since the Korean War, who were believed to have been interrogated in the Soviet
Union and then sent to China. China responded to the United States that it did not
receive anyone on that list from the former Soviet Union.74 But that response
apparently did not address whether China received American military personnel from
North Korea or China itself transferred them.
Upon returning from North Korea and Southeast Asia in December 1992,
Senator Robert Smith, Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on POW/MIA
Affairs, disclosed that officials in Pyongyang admitted that “hundreds” of American
POWs captured in the Korean War were sent to China and did not return to North
Korea. According to Smith, North Korean officials said that China’s PLA operated
POW camps in North Korea during the Korean War and the Cold War and detained
Americans in China’s northeastern region. Moreover, North Korean officials told
Smith that some American POWs could have been sent to the Soviet Union for
further interrogations. Smith advocated that the U.S. government press the PRC
government for information on POWs rather than accept the PRC’s denials that it had
POWs or information about them, saying “this is where the answers lie.”75 (The
71 Department of Defense, news release, “China Provides World War II U.S. Aircraft Crash
Sites,” February 8, 2001.
72 Melissa Healy, “China Said to Have Experimented on U.S. POWs,” Los Angeles Times,
July 4, 1992.
73 Mark Sauter, “POW Probe Extends to Korea, China,” Tacoma News-Tribune, June 21,
74 “No U.S. POWs in China,” Beijing Review, July 27-August 2, 1992.
75 Carleton R. Bryant, “N. Korea: POWs Sent to China: Senator Says U.S. Must Prod
Senate created the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in August 1991, chaired
by Senator John Kerry. It concluded in December 1992, after gaining “important
new information” from North Korea on China’s involvement with U.S. POWs.76)
Secretary of Defense Cohen visited China in 1998 and stressed cooperation on
POW/MIA cases one of four priorities in relations with the PLA. After visiting
China in January 1999 to seek the PLA’s cooperation in opening its secret archives
on the Korean War, the Director of the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO), Robert
Jones, said that “we believe that Chinese records of the war may hold the key to
resolving the fates of many of our missing servicemen from the Korean War.” The
office’s spokesman, Larry Greer, reported that the PRC agreed to look into the U.S.
request to access the archives.77
In March 2003, DPMO Director Jerry Jennings visited China and said that PRC
records likely hold “the key” to resolving some POW/MIA cases from the Korean
War.78 Just days after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers,
visited Beijing in January 2004, PRC media reported on January 19, 2004, that the
government declassified the first batch of over 10,000 files in its archives on the
PRC’s foreign relations from 1949 to 1955. However, this step apparently excluded
wartime records, and General Myers did not announce cooperation by China in
providing information in its archives related to American POW/MIAs from the
Korean War.79 The PRC later announced in July 2004 the declassification of a
second batch of similar files. In February 2005, DPMO acknowledged that PRC
cooperation on Korean War cases remained the “greatest challenge.”80
Visiting Beijing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2005,
Pentagon officials again raised the issue of access to China’s Korean War archives
believed to hold documents on American POWs.81 In July 2006, General Guo
Boxiong (the top PLA commander) visited the United States and agreed to open PLA
archives on the Korean War. However, in his June 2007 report to Congress on
military contacts, Defense Secretary Robert Gates reported that the PLA’s
Beijing,” Washington Times, December 23, 1992.
76 Report of the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, U.S. Senate, Report 103-1, January
by Charles A. Henning.
77 Sue Pleming, “U.S. Asks China for Access to Korean POW Files,” Reuters, February 4,
78 Department of Defense, “U.S., China Agree to Enhanced Cooperation on POW/MIA
Matters,” March 29, 2003.
79 Confirmed in discussions with DPMO officials, January 29, 2004.
80 Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, “Personnel Accounting Progress in China as of
February 4, 2005,” February 2005.
81 Robert Burns, “Pentagon Seeking Access to Chinese Records on War MIAs,” AP/Arizona
Republic, October 23, 2005; and author’s discussions with DPMO.
cooperation “yielded mixed results.” PLA cooperation with DPMO was “limited”
in 2006, despite General Guo’s promise.
There was some progress in February 2008, when China finally agreed to allow
access to the PLA archives on the Korean War. However, the PLA did not grant
direct access to the records, as asked by the Defense Department. The DPMO would
have to request searches done by PRC researchers at the archives and the PLA would
control and turn over acceptable records. The two sides would have to also negotiate
the frequency, amount, and expenses of the searches.82 Deputy Assistant Secretary
of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs Charles Ray signed a Memorandum of
Understanding in Shanghai on February 29, 2008.83 Despite the delay of many years,
a PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman said China agreed out of “humanitarianism.”84
Record of Major Military Contacts Since 1993
The scope of this record of mil-to-mil contacts focuses on senior-level visits,
strategic talks, functional exchanges, agreements, commissions, and training or
exercises. This compiled chronology does not provide a detailed list of all mil-to-mil
contacts (that also include confidence building measures, educational exchanges that
include visits by students at war colleges and the U.S. Capstone educational program
for new general/flag officers, the numerous port calls in Hong Kong that continued
after its hand-over from British to PRC control in July 1997, disaster relief missions,
multilateral conferences, “track two” discussions sponsored by former Defense
Secretary William Perry, etc.). There is no security assistance, as U.S. sanctions
against arms sales have remained since 1989. Sources include numerous official
statements, reports to Congress, documents, U.S. and PRC news stories, interviews,
and observations. Specific dates are provided to the extent possible, while there are
instances in which just the month is reported. Text boxes summarize major bilateral
tensions as context for the alternating periods of enthusiastic and skeptical contacts.
In July 1993, the Clinton Administration suspected that a PRC cargo ship, called the
Yinhe, was going to Iran with chemicals that could be used for chemical weapons and
sought to inspect its cargo. In an unusual move, on August 9, China first disclosed that
it protested U.S. “harassment” and finally allowed U.S. participation in a Saudi
inspection of the ship’s cargo on August 26, 1993. Afterward, the State Department said
that the suspected chemicals were not found on the ship at that time. The PRC has raised
this Yinhe incident as a grievance against the United States and the credibility of U.S.
intelligence in particular.
82 “Pentagon Cites MIA Deal With China,” Associated Press, February 25, 2008, quoting
DPMO spokesman Larry Greer.
83 Defense Department, “U.S. and China Sign POW/ MIA Arrangement,” February 29, 2008.
84 “PRC Will Continually Help Look for Remains of U.S. Soldiers Killed in Korean War,”
Xinhua, February 28, 2008.
November 1-2Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Chas Freeman visited China, renewing mil-to-mil ties for the first
time since the Tiananmen Crackdown in June 1989. Freeman met
with General Liu Huaqing (a Vice Chairman of the CMC), General
Chi Haotian (Defense Minister), Lieutenant General Xu Huizi
(Deputy Chief of General Staff), and Lieutenant General Huai
Guomo (Vice Chairman of the Commission of Science, Technology,
and Industry for National Defense, or COSTIND).
January 17-21Lieutenant General Paul Cerjan, President of the National Defense
University (NDU), visited China to advance professional military
exchanges with the PLA’s NDU. Cerjan visited the Nanjing Militaryth
Region and saw the 179 Infantry Division.
March 11-14Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Frank Wisner visited China,
along with Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
July 6-8Commander of the Pacific Command (PACOM), Admiral Charles
Larson, visited China and held talks with PLA Deputy Chief of
General Staff, General Xu Huizi.
August 15-18The Director of the PRC’s National Bureau of Surveying and
Mapping (NBSM) visited the United States and signed an agreement
for a cooperative program with the Defense Mapping Agency, the
predecessor of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA),
regarding the global positioning system (GPS). The agreement refers
to the “Protocol for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in
Surveying and Mapping Studies Concerning Scientific and Technical
Cooperation in the Application of Geodetic and Geophysical Data to
Mapping, Charting, and Geodetic (MC&G) Programs.”
August 15-25PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, General Xu Huizi, visited the
United States and met with Defense Secretary William Perry and
General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in
Washington, DC, and PACOM Commander, Admiral Richard
Macke, in Hawaii.
September 7-29In a POW/MIA operation, a U.S. Army team traveled to Tibet with
PLA support to recover the remains of two U.S. airmen whose C-87
cargo plane crashed into a glacier at 14,000 feet in Tibet on
December 31, 1944, during a flight over the “hump” back to India
from Kunming, China, in World War II.
September 19-24Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General Merrill McPeak, visited
China and met with PLA Air Force Commander, General Cao
October 16-19Secretary of Defense William Perry visited China and met with
Generals Liu Huaqing (CMC Vice Chairman) and Chi Haotian
(Defense Minister). On October 17, Perry and PLA General Ding
Henggao, Director of COSTIND, conducted the first meeting of the
newly-established U.S.-China Joint Defense Conversion
Commission. They signed the “U.S.-China Joint Defense Conversion
Commission: Minutes of the First Meeting, Beijing, October 17,
In a confrontation in the Yellow Sea on October 27-29, 1994, the U.S. aircraft carrier
battle group led by the USS Kitty Hawk discovered and tracked a Han-class nuclear
attack submarine of the PLA Navy. In response, the PLA Air Force sent fighters toward
the U.S. aircraft tracking the submarine. Although no shots were fired by either side,
China followed up the incident with a warning, issued to the U.S. Naval Attache over
dinner in Beijing, that the PLA would open fire in a future incident.
November 5-10The Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant
General James Clapper, visited China. He met with the GSD’s
Second Department (Intelligence) and the affiliated China Instituteth
for International Strategic Studies (CIISS), saw the 179 Division in
Nanjing, and received a briefing on tactical intelligence.
November 11-15The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, David
Hinson, and the Defense Department’s Executive Director of the
Policy Board on Federal Aviation, Frank Colson, visited China to
formulate the “U.S.-China 8-Step Civil-Military Air Traffic Control
Cooperative Plan” agreed to during establishment of the Joint
Defense Conversion Commission.
November 19-26The PLA sent a delegation of new general and flag officers to the
United States (similar to the U.S. Capstone program), led by
Lieutenant General Ma Weizhi, Vice President of the NDU. They
visited: Fort Irwin (including the National Training Center); Nellis
Air Force Base (and observed a Red Flag exercise); Washington, DC
(for meetings at NDU and Pentagon, including with the Vice
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Owens); and
Norfolk Naval Base (and toured an aircraft carrier).
DecemberA delegation from NIMA visited China to sign a GPS survey plan
and discuss provision of PRC data on gravity for a NIMA/NASA
project on gravity modeling and establishment of a GPS tracking
station near Beijing.
December 10-13Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Requirements Ted
Warner visited China to conduct briefings on the U.S. defense
strategy and budget as part of a defense transparency initiative, based
on an agreement between Secretary Perry and General Chi Haotian
in October 1994.
January 28-PLA Major General Wen Guangchun, Assistant to the Director of the
February 10General Logistics Department (GLD), visited the United States at the
invitation of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition and Technology. The U.S. military provided briefings
on logistics doctrine and systems and allowed the PLA visitors to
observe U.S. military logistics activities and installations.
February 6-10U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations,
Lieutenant General Joseph Ralston, led a delegation of officials from
the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, and
Department of Commerce to visit China. They studied the PRC’s
civil-military air traffic control system and discussed future
In early February 1995, the PLA Navy occupied Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in
the South China Sea, although Mischief Reef is about 150 miles west of the Philippines’
island of Palawan but over 620 miles southeast of China’s Hainan island off its southern
coast. China seized a claim to territory in the South China Sea against a country other
than Vietnam for the first time and challenged the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally. Some
Members of Congress introduced resolutions urging U.S. support for peace and stability.
Three months later, on May 10, 1995, the Clinton Administration issued a statement
opposing the use or threat of force to resolve the competing claims, without naming
February 24-President of the PLA’s NDU, Lieutenant General Zhu Dunfa, visited
March 7the United States. Zhu visited West Point in New York; U.S. NDU
and Pentagon in Washington, DC; Maxwell Air Force Base in
Alabama; Naval Air Station North Island, Marine Recruit Depot, and
Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in California; and PACOM in
March 22-24The USS Bunker Hill (Aegis-equipped, Ticonderoga-class cruiser)
visited Qingdao, in the first U.S. Navy ship visit to China since 1989.
The senior officer aboard, Rear Admiral Bernard Smith, Commander
of Carrier Group Five, met with Vice Admiral Wang Jiying,
Commander of the PLA Navy (PLAN)’s North Sea Fleet.
March 25-28A Deputy Director of COSTIND, Lieutenant General Huai Guomo,
visited Washington to meet with officials at the Department of
Commerce, Department of Defense, and people in the private sector
to discuss possible projects for the Joint Defense Conversion
March 26-AprilLieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, PLA Assistant Chief of General
2Staff (with the portfolio of military intelligence), visited the United
States, reciprocating for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy
and Requirements Ted Warner’s visit to Beijing in December 1994.
Xiong provided briefings on the PLA’s defense strategy and budget,
and the composition of the armed forces, and received briefings on
U.S. national and global information infrastructures.
March 28-AprilA delegation from the PRC’s National Bureau of Surveying and
4Mapping visited the United States to hold discussions with NIMA
and release PRC gravity data for analysis.
April 19Vice Minister of the PRC’s General Administration of Civil Aviation
(CAAC) Bao Peide visited the United States to meet with the Federal
Aviation Administration and U.S. companies. U.S. Air Force Deputy
Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Lieutenant General Ralph
Eberhart, briefed the PRC delegation on U.S. Air Force air traffic
April 25-30PACOM Commander, Admiral Richard Macke, visited China, hosted
by PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, General Xu Huizi.
May 17-22PLA Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Yu Zhenwu, visited
the United States, hosted by the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.
Originally scheduled to last until May 27, the PLA terminated the
visit on May 22 to protest the Clinton Administration’s decision to
grant a visa to Taiwan’s President Lee Teng-hui to visit his alma
mater, Cornell University.
On July 21-28, 1995, after the Clinton Administration allowed Taiwan’s President Lee
Teng-hui to make a private visit to give a speech at Cornell University on June 9, the PLA
launched M-9 short-range ballistic missiles in “test-firings” toward target areas in the
East China Sea. The PLA held other exercises directed against Taiwan until November.
On August 3, 1995, China expelled two U.S. Air Force attaches stationed in Hong Kong
who traveled to China and were detained. China accused them of collecting military
intelligence in restricted military areas along the southeastern coast.
August 31-PLA Commander of the Guangzhou Military Region, Lieutenant
September 2General Li Xilin, visited Hawaii to participate in a ceremony toth
commemorate the 50 anniversary of victory in the Pacific in World
War II. Li met with Secretary of Defense Perry, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili, and PACOM
Commander, Admiral Macke.
September 7-16Two NIMA teams visited China to establish GPS satellite tracking
stations and discuss plans for a GPS survey in China in 1996.
October 15-25Lieutenant General (USAF) Ervin Rokke, President of the NDU,
visited China and held talks with Lieutenant General Xing Shizhong,
President of the PLA’s NDU, about professional military educationalth
exchanges. The PLA arranged for Rokke to visit the 196 Infantry
Division under the Beijing Military Region, the Satellite Control
Center in Xian (the first U.S. access), the Guilin Army Academy in
Guilin, and the Guangzhou Military Region.
November 14-18Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Joseph Nye visited Beijing and met with General Chi Haotian. Nye
said that “nobody knows” what the United States would do if the
PLA attacked Taiwan.
On January 19, 1996, China expelled the U.S. Assistant Air Force Attache and the
Japanese Air Force Attache, after detaining them while they were traveling in southern
January 20-27The Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations of the U.S. Air
Force, Lieutenant General Ralph Eberhart, visited China as head of
a delegation of representatives of the Department of Defense, Federal
Aviation Administration, and Department of Commerce, as part of
the Air Traffic Control Cooperative Program.
January 31-The USS Fort McHenry, a dock-landing ship, visited Shanghai, under
February 4the command of Rear Admiral Walter Doran.
February 6Visiting PRC Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with Under
Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe at the Pentagon.
March 7Secretary of Defense Perry, along with National Security Advisor
Anthony Lake, attended a dinner meeting hosted by Secretary of
State Christopher at the State Department for PRC Foreign Affairs
Office Director Liu Huaqiu. Perry warned Liu that there would be
“grave consequences” should the PLA attack Taiwan.
On March 8-15, 1996, the PLA launched four M-9 short-range ballistic missiles into
waters close to the two ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan. Leading up to
Taiwan’s first democratic presidential election on March 23, the PLA conducted live fire
exercises in the Taiwan Strait on March 12-25.
On March 10-11, 1996, the United States announced that it would deploy two aircraft
carriers, the USS Independence and USS Nimitz, to waters near the east coast of Taiwan.
March 9-17Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Stephen Joseph
visited China to advance bilateral military medical relations. Joseph
and a Deputy Director of the GLD, Lieutenant General Zhou
Youliang, signed a “Memorandum of Medical Exchange and
April 5-13Geodesy and geophysical staff from NIMA visited China to hold
discussions with the PRC’s National Bureau of Surveying and
May 4-20A geodesy and geophysical survey team from NIMA visited China to
perform a cooperative GPS survey.
June 25-28Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe visited
July 11-AugustThe PRC’s National Bureau of Surveying and Mapping visited the
31United States to hold discussions with NIMA on cooperative projects
and computation of results for the GPS China survey.
September 2-8PACOM Commander, Admiral Joseph Prueher, visited China, hosted
by a PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Xiong
September 10The Office for Defense Procurement/Foreign Contracting of the
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology hosted
Vice Chairman of the State Planning Commission She Jianming at
the Pentagon and provided a briefing on the Defense Department’s
September 16-18NIMA participated in the 9th meeting of the U.S.-PRC Joint Working
Group for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Surveying in
September 17-29A Deputy Director of the GLD, Lieutenant General Zhou Youliang,
visited the United States to advance bilateral military medical
relations, as the reciprocal visit for that of the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Health Affairs to China in March 1996. Both sides
discussed cooperation between military hospitals, such as PLA 301
Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
September 17At the Pentagon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian
and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell met with the vice president of the
Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR),
which is associated with the Ministry of State Security.
September 21-27A team from NIMA visited China to perform maintenance on the
GPS tracking station and discuss cooperative plans on gravity data.
October 4-17Lieutenant General Xing Shizhong, President of the PLA’s NDU,
visited the United States. He and Lieutenant General Ervin Rokke,
President of the U.S. NDU, signed a “Memorandum on Cooperation
and Reciprocal Relations” between the two NDUs. They agreed to
undertake reciprocal interaction on a broad range of issues relevant
to professional military education, including military art, the
evolution of strategy and doctrine, strategic assessment, the impact
of technological advance on the nature of warfare, library science,
October 11-17The Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant General
Edgar Anderson, led a U.S. military medical delegation to participate
in the XXXI International Congress on Military Medicine held in
October 20At the Pentagon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian
and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell met with a delegation from the
Chinese Institute of International Strategic Studies (CIISS), which is
associated with the PLA.
November 11-19The Director of DIA, Lieutenant General Patrick Hughes, visited
December 5-18General Chi Haotian, a Vice Chairman of the CMC and Minister of
Defense, visited the United States, to reciprocate for Defense
Secretary Perry’s visit to China in October 1994. Perry announced
that General Chi’s visit allowed for discussions of global and
regional security issues as well as the future of mil-to-mil relations.
While in Washington, General Chi met with President William
Clinton. A controversy arose when General Chi gave a speech at
NDU at Fort McNair and defended the PLA’s crackdown on peaceful
demonstrators in Beijing in 1989 (during which he was the PLA’s
Chief of General Staff) and claimed — apparently in a narrow sense
— that no one died in Tiananmen Square itself. DOD provided a
draft proposal for a bilateral military maritime cooperative
agreement. The two sides agreed to continue U.S. port calls to Hong
Kong after its hand-over from British to PRC control on July 1, 1997;
to allow PLA ship visits to Hawaii and the U.S. west coast; to
institutionalize Defense Consultative Talks; to hold senior-level
visits; and to allow U.S. repatriation of the remains of the crew of a
B-24 bomber that crashed in southern China in World War II (after
General Chi presented dog tags found at the crash site). After
Washington, Perry arranged for General Chi to travel to Air Force
and Navy facilities in Norfolk, Virginia; the Air University at
Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama; Army units at Fort Hood,
Texas; the Cooperative Monitoring Center at the Sandia National
Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico (for discussion of
technology that could be used to verify the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty); and PACOM in Hawaii headed by Admiral Joseph Prueher.
January 13-17A Defense POW/MIA team went to Maoer Mountain in Guangxi
province (in southern China) to recover the remains of a “Flying
Tigers” crew whose B-24 bomber crashed into the mountain in 1944
after bombing Japanese forces near Taiwan during World War II.
January 15At the Pentagon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International
Security Affairs Frank Kramer met with Wang Daohan, president of
the PRC’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait
February 21-Lieutenant General Kui Fulin, a Deputy Chief of General Staff,
March 6visited the United States, hosted by the Chief of Staff of the U.S.
Army, General Dennis Reimer. General Kui visited the Pentagon,
West Point in New York, U.S. Army Forces Command in Georgia,
Fort Benning in Georgia, and PACOM in Hawaii.
February 24-27The Principal Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for
Environmental Security, Gary Vest, visited Beijing to participate in
the 1997 China Environment Forum and met with PLA leaders to
discuss environmental security issues.
March 9-25PLA Naval ships (the Luhu-class destroyer Harbin, the Luda-class
destroyer Zhuhai, and the oiler Nanchang) visited Pearl Harbor, HI
(March 9-13) and San Diego, CA (March 21-25), in the PLA Navy
(PLAN)’s second ship visit to Pearl Harbor and first port call to the
U.S. west coast. As part of the occasion, Vice Admiral He Pengfei
(a PLAN Deputy Commander) and Vice Admiral Wang Yongguo
(PLAN South Sea Fleet Commander) visited the United States.
AprilMajor General John Cowlings, Commandant of the Industrial College
of the Armed Forces of the U.S. NDU, visited China.
May 12-15The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John
Shalikashvili, visited China, hosted by the PLA’s Chief of General
Staff, General Fu Quanyou. On May 14, 1997, Shalikashvili gave a
speech at the PLA’s NDU, in which he called for mil-to-mil contacts
that are deeper, more frequent, more balanced, and more developed,
in order to decrease suspicion, advance cooperation, and prevent
miscalculations in a crisis. He called for a more equal exchange of
information, confidence building measures (CBMs), military
academic and functional exchanges, the PLA’s participation in
multinational military activities, and a regular dialogue between
senior military leaders. He also urged the completion of the military
maritime and air cooperative agreement. However, Shalikashvili
reportedly got only a limited view of the PLA during a visit to theth
JulyLieutenant General Xu Qiliang, Chief of Staff of the PLA Air Force,
led an education and training delegation to the United States.
JulyLieutenant General Wu Quanxu, a Deputy Chief of General Staff of
the PLA, visited PACOM in Hawaii.
August 5-13General Fu Quanyou, PLA Chief of General Staff, visited the United
States. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and General John
Shalikashvili welcomed Fu at the Pentagon with a 19-gun salute.
General Fu also visited West Point in New York, Fort Bragg in North
Carolina, Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, Langley Air Force Base in
Virginia, and PACOM in Hawaii. General Fu boarded a U.S. nuclear
attack submarine and the USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet’s amphibious
September 11-15An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, visited
Qingdao. As part of the occasion, Commander of the U.S. Pacific
Fleet, Admiral Archie Clemins, visited China and met with the
Commander of the PLAN North Sea Fleet, Rear Admiral Zhang
September 14-21The Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, Major General
Walter Huffman, visited China, including the Jinan Military Region,
to discuss military law.
September 22-26The U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, General Dennis Reimer, visited
China, along with the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence,
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy. They met with Generals Chith
Haotian and Fu Quanyou, and visited the 6 Tank Division and an
engineering regiment in the Beijing Military Region, and an artillery
unit in the Nanjing Military Region. They also paid the first U.S.
visit to the command headquarters of the Guangzhou Military
October 6The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jay Johnson, visited China
and met with General Chi Haotian, General Fu Quanyou, and
Admiral Shi Yunsheng, PLAN Commander.
OctoberLieutenant General He Daoquan, a Vice President of the PLA’s
NDU, led a delegation to the United States (similar to the U.S.
Capstone program for new general/flag officers).
October 29Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China,
CMC Chairman, and PRC President, visited Washington for a
summit with President Clinton. Among a number of agreements,
they agreed to strengthen mil-to-mil contacts to minimize
miscalculations, advance transparency, and strengthen
communication. In the “U.S.-PRC Joint Statement,” the
Administration reiterated that it adheres to the “one China” policy
and the principles in the three U.S.-PRC Joint Communiques, but did
not mention the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the law governing U.S.
relations with Taiwan (including security assistance for its self-
NovemberContinuing a POW/MIA mission, a team from the U.S. Army’s
Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) returned to Maoer
Mountain in southern China to recover additional remains from a B-
December 8-19PACOM Commander, Admiral Joseph Prueher, visited China and
met with PRC leader Jiang Zemin, General Zhang Wannian, General
Chi Haotian, General Fu Quanyou, among others. Prueher enjoyed
what the PLA considered the broadest access ever granted to a
visiting military official during one trip. Prueher visited the Jinan,
Nanjing, and Guangzhou Military Regions. He visited the PLA Air
Force Flight Test and Development Center in Cangzhou in Jinan,
where he saw a static display of aircraft, after poor weather
conditions apparently precluded a flight demonstration of F-7 and F-8th
fighters. Prueher visited the 179 Infantry Division at the Nanjing
Military Region, watched a live-fire assault demonstration, and
toured a farm run by the PLA. At Zhanjiang, Prueher visited the
PLA Navy’s South Sea Fleet, where he observed a demonstration byst
the 1 Marine Brigade, saw a new air-cushioned landing craft, and
toured the destroyer Zhuhai. Prueher stressed future PLA-PACOM
cooperation in peacekeeping and disaster relief training.
December 11-12Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, a PLA Deputy Chief of Generalst
Staff, visited the Pentagon to hold the 1 U.S.-PLA Defense
Consultative Talks (DCT) with Under Secretary of Defense for
Policy Walter Slocombe. During their summit in October, Presidents
Clinton and Jiang had agreed to hold regular rounds of DCT. The
two sides initialed the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement
(MMCA) (“Agreement Between the Department of Defense of the
United States of America and the Ministry of National Defense of the
People’s Republic of China on Establishing a Consultation
Mechanism to Strengthen Military Maritime Safety”).
DecemberThe U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard conducted search-and-rescue
exercises in Hong Kong (with its Civil Aviation Department), after
the British hand-over of Hong Kong to PRC sovereignty in July
1997. At a news briefing on July 7, 1998, the Pentagon said that the
PLA observed this exercise.
DecemberA PLA training delegation visited the U.S. Army’s premier National
Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin in California.
January 17-21Secretary of Defense William Cohen, accompanied by Admiral
Prueher (PACOM Commander), visited China. Cohen signed the
“Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA),” intended to
set up a framework for dialogue on how to minimize the chances of
miscalculation and accidents between U.S. and PLA forces operating
at sea or in the air. He said that Jiang Zemin and General Chi
Haotian promised that China did not plan to transfer to Iran
additional anti-ship cruise missiles. The PLA allowed Cohen to be
the first Western official to visit the Beijing Military Region’s Air
Defense Command Center, a step that Cohen called important and
symbolic. However, the PLA denied Cohen’s request to visit China’s
National Command Center. Cohen gave a speech at the PLA’s
Academy of Military Science (AMS) and called for expanded mil-to-
mil contacts on: (1) defense environmental issues; (2) strategic
nuclear missile forces; (3) POW/MIA affairs; and (4) humanitarian
operations (as part of shifting contacts from those that build
confidence to those that advance real-world cooperation). Cohen
asked the PLA to allow U.S. access to PRC archives to resolve
questions about the fate of U.S. POW/MIAs in the Korean War who
might have been in prison camps in China.
February 16-20For the first time, the PLA attended the Pacific Area Special
Operations Conference (PASOC) in Hawaii.
March 14-24A U.S. Army training delegation from the Training and Doctrine
Command (TRADOC) based at Fort Monroe, VA, visited China.
The Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, Major General Leroy Goff
and Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Major General
David Ohle, led the delegation. They saw the PLA’s training base in
Anhui province under the Nanjing Military Region (similar to the
March 29-General Wang Ke, Director of the GLD of the PLA, visited the
April 10United States, hosted by the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisitions and Technology. General Wang visited West Point in
New York, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the Pentagon,
Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia, the Defense
Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center in Richmond, the USS
Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier at Naval Air Station North Island
(San Diego) in California, and PACOM in Hawaii. At the Pentagon,
DOD provided briefings on: organizations for the DOD Logistics
Systems, Logistics Modernization Initiatives, Joint Logistics/Focused
Logistics, DOD Outsourcing Process and Experiences, DOD Military
Retirement Systems, and the Army’s Integrated Training Area
In April 1998, the New York Times disclosed that the Justice Department had begun a
criminal investigation into whether U.S. satellite manufacturers, Loral Space and
Communications Ltd. and Hughes Electronics Corporation, violated export control laws.
They allegedly provided expertise that China could use to improve its ballistic missiles,
when the companies shared their technical findings with China on the cause of a PRC
rocket’s explosion while launching a U.S.-origin satellite in February 1996. The House
set up the “Cox Committee” to investigate the allegations of corporate misconduct and
policy mistakes. The Senate set up a task force. Congress passed legislation to control
satellite exports to China.
April 6-10The PLA went to PACOM’s Military Operations and Law
Conference, organized by the Judge Advocate’s office.
April 29-30The Defense Department and PLA held pre-talks on the Military
Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA).
May 3-5Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Franklin Kramer visited Beijing.
May 4-9The Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General Michael Ryan,
visited China. The PLA Air Force gave him a tour of Foshan Air
Base and allowed him to fly an F-7 fighter and view an air- refuelable
version of an FA-2. However, the PLA Air Force denied General
Ryan’s requests to fly in a SU-27 fighter, to see integration of the
SU-27s into the units, and to see progress on development of the F-10
MayA PLA delegation on military law visited the United States.
June 25-July 3President Clinton traveled to China to hold his second summit with
Jiang Zemin, following the summit in October 1997. They
announced that the United States and China: have a direct
presidential “hot line” that was set up in May 1998; will not target
strategic nuclear weapons under their respective control at each
other; will hold the first meeting under the MMCA; will observe
exercises of the other based on reciprocity (meaning the PLA would
also issue invitations to U.S. observers); will cooperate in
humanitarian assistance; and will cooperate in military environmental
security. However, China only agreed to study whether to join the
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and did not agree to
open archives to allow U.S. research on POW/MIAs from the Korean
War. In Shanghai on June 30, Clinton stated the so-called “Three
Noes” of non-support for Taiwan’s independence; non-support for
two Chinas or one China and one Taiwan; and non-support for
Taiwan’s membership in international bodies requiring statehood.
July 9-24At U.S. invitation, the PLA sent two observers to Cope Thunder 98-
4, a multinational air exercise held at Eielson and Elmendorf Air
Force Bases in Alaska. The air forces of the United States, United
Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Singapore participated in the
exercise, which was designed to sharpen air combat skills, exchange
air operational tactics, and promote closer relations. Pilots flew a
variety of aircraft in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions, and
combat support missions against a realistic set of threats. Russia,
Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines also sent military
July 14-15In Beijing, the DOD and PLA held the first plenary meeting under
July 15-20At U.S. invitation, the PLA Navy sent two observers to RIMPAC
1998, the first time the PLA observed this multinational naval
exercise based in Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. The naval forces of
the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, and South Korea
participated in the exercise, which was designed to enhance their
tactical capabilities in maritime operations. During part of the
exercise, the U.S. Navy hosted the PLA Navy’s representatives onrd
board the USS Coronado (the 3 Fleet’s command ship), the USS
Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, the USS Paul Hamilton (an Arleigh
Burke-class destroyer), and the USS Antietam (a Ticonderoga-class
July 20-26PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Qian
Shugen, visited the United States.
JulyA PRC civilian and military delegation visited the United States,
including Pensacola, FL, to discuss air traffic control with the
Federal Aviation Administration, Departments of Commerce and
Defense, and the U.S. Air Force.
August 2-6The command ship of the 7th Fleet, USS Blue Ridge, and a destroyer,
USS John S. McCain, visited Qingdao. As part of the occasion, Viceth
Admiral Robert Natter, Commander of the 7 Fleet, visited and met
with Vice Admiral Shi Yunsheng, PLAN Commander, and Vice
Admiral He Pengfei, a PLAN Deputy Commander.
August 16-23The Commandant of the Army War College, Major General Robert
Scales, and the U.S. Army’s Chief of Military History, Brigadier
General John Mountcastle, visited Beijing, Tianjin, and Nanjing, and
discussed the PLA’s historical campaigns.
September 12-20NDU President, Lieutenant General Richard Chilcoat, visited China,
including Hong Kong, Beijing, Xian, and Dalian.
September 14-24General Zhang Wannian, a Vice Chairman of the CMC and highest
ranking PLA officer, visited the United States. However, with
General Shalikashvili’s disappointment with the lack of transparency
and reciprocity shown to him by the PLA during his trip to China in
May 1997, Secretary of Defense William Cohen invoked the “Shali
Prohibitions” in restricting General Zhang’s exposure to the U.S.
military during his visits to the Pentagon, Fort Benning in Georgia,
and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. President Clinton met with
General Zhang at the White House. At a news conference on
September 15, 1998, Secretary Cohen announced that he and General
Zhang signed an agreement on cooperation in environmental security
(“Joint Statement on the Exchange of Information by the United
States Department of Defense and the Chinese Ministry of National
Defense on Military Environmental Protection”); discussed weapons
proliferation and international terrorism; and agreed to conduct sand
table exercises on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in 1999,
to have a ship visit by the PLA Navy in 1999, to conduct a seminar
on maritime search and rescue, to allow each other to observe
specific military exercises, to exchange military students, and to
allow a PRC delegation to visit the Cooperative Monitoring Center
at the Sandia National Laboratory. However, Cohen did not
announce any progress in following up on U.S. concerns about
Korean War POW/MIA cases, non-targeting of strategic nuclear
forces (involving the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and the
PLA’s Second Artillery), PLA threats against Taiwan, or weapons
nonproliferation. General Zhang cited President Clinton’s statements
in China in June about the U.S. “one China” policy and the “Three
Noes,” while Secretary Cohen stressed peaceful resolution and said
that Clinton reiterated commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act.
October 20-21Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe visitednd
Beijing for the 2 DCT and met with Generals Zhang Wannian and
Chi Haotian (CMC Vice Chairmen), and Lieutenant General Xiong
Guangkai. They discussed global and regional security issues,
defense relations in the Asia-Pacific region, military strategy and
modernization, and mil-to-mil contacts in 1999 (“Gameplan for 1999
U.S.-Sino Defense Exchanges”). The PLA raised objections to the
U.S. plan to field theater missile defense systems.
November 1Secretary of Defense Cohen visited Hong Kong (on his way to South
Korea and Japan) to underscore the U.S. determination to continue
its defense involvement there, including ship visits, after its hand-
over to PRC rule.
November 9-14PACOM Commander, Admiral Joseph Prueher, visited China, along
with Lieutenant General Carl Fulford (Commander of U.S. Marine
Forces Pacific) and Major General Earl Hailston (Director for
Strategic Planning and Policy). They met with General Zhang
Wannian (a CMC Vice Chairman), General Fu Quanyou (Chief of
General Staff), General Wang Ke (GLD Director), and Lieutenant
General Xiong Guangkai (a Deputy Chief of General Staff). Theth
PLA arranged for visits to the 47 Group Army based near Xian and
a subordinate air defense brigade, in granting the first foreign
military access to these two commands. Admiral Prueher also visitedth
the PLA Air Force’s 28 Air Attack Division in Hangzhou and
observed ordnance loading of A-5 bombers and a live-fire
demonstration of an air-to-ground attack by A-5s. He then toured a
Jiangwei-class frigate of the PLA Navy in Shanghai.
December 1-4U.S. and PLA military forces participated in an annual search and
rescue exercise (HK SAREX 98) held by Hong Kong’s Civil
December 4PACOM Commander, Admiral Joseph Prueher, visited Hong Kong
and met with Major Generals Zhou Borong and Xiong Ziren, Deputy
Commander and Political Commissar of PLA forces there.
December 4-8A U.S. Navy frigate, the USS Vandegrift, visited Shanghai. As part
of the port call, Rear Admiral Harry Highfill, Commander of the U.S.th
Commander of the Shanghai Naval Base. The PLAN arranged for
Admiral Highfill to tour the PLAN’s Jiangwei-class frigate, the
December 9-11Military maritime consultative talks (under the MMCA) between the
U.S. Navy and PLAN took place near San Diego, CA. The PLAN
delegation, led by Captain Shen Hao, Director of the PLAN
Operations Department, stayed at the Naval Amphibious Base at
Coronado and toured a U.S. destroyer (USS Stetham) and the U.S.
Navy’s Maritime Ship Handling Simulator at the San Diego Naval
At the end of 1998 and start of 1999, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal
disclosed that the Cox Committee was looking at the Clinton Administration’s
investigation that began in 1995 into whether China obtained secret U.S. nuclear weapons
data, in addition to missile technology associated with satellite launches. On April 21,
1999, the Director of Central Intelligence confirmed that “China obtained by espionage
classified U.S. nuclear weapons information that probably accelerated its program to
develop future nuclear weapons.” However, it was uncertain whether China obtained
documentation or blueprints, and China also benefitted from information obtained from
a wide variety of sources, including open sources (unclassified information) and China’s
January 19-26The Director of the Defense POW/MIA Office, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense Robert Jones, visited China to seek the PLA’s
cooperation in accounting for U.S. POW/MIAs from the Korean
War, specifically seeking U.S. access to PLA archives, veterans, and
a film with information about POW camps in China.
MarchPresident of the PLA’s NDU, General Xing Shizhong, visited
Washington and gave a speech at the U.S. NDU at Fort McNair on
March 18, 1999. The Pentagon arranged for General Xing to visit
Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, receive a briefing on the U.S. Navy’s
“Network Centric Warfare” in Rhode Island, visit Fort Hood in
Texas and receive a briefing on Task Force XXI (an experimental
warfighting force in the Army), and see the Air Warfare Center at
Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. However, the Defense Department
denied the PLA delegation’s access to observe the Red Flag combat
training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base.
In April 1999, under congressional pressure, the Clinton Administration approved a
potential sale of long-range early warning radars to Taiwan.
On May 7, 1999, U.S.-led NATO forces bombed the PRC’s embassy in Belgrade,
Yugoslavia, having mistakenly targeted it as a military supply facility belonging to
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic whose Serbian forces attacked Kosovo. Despite
President Clinton’s apology, the PRC angrily suspended mil-to-mil contacts, allowed
protesters to attack violently U.S. diplomatic facilities in China, and denied ship visits to
Hong Kong by the U.S. Navy until September 1999. In July 1999, the United States
agreed to pay $4.5 million in compensation for PRC casualties. In FY2001 legislation,
Congress appropriated $28 million to compensate for damages to China’s embassy.
MayA U.S. Navy working group under the MMCA visited Qingdao to
discuss international standards of communication at sea.
May 9-20A PRC delegation that included PLA officers visited the United
States to discuss air traffic control. On May 18, 1999, they visited
Edwards Air Force Base in California and received a briefing on
daily planning, integration, and control of civilian and military
In May 1999, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1999 (P.L.
105-261), Secretary of Defense Cohen submitted the unclassified version of the “Report
to Congress on Theater Missile Defense Architecture Options for the Asia-Pacific
Region.” Congress required a report on theater missile defense systems that could be
transferred to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, which the conference report called “key
On July 9, 1999, Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui characterized the cross-strait
relationship as “special state-to-state ties,” sparking military tensions with the PLA. The
Clinton Administration responded that Lee’s statement was not helpful and reaffirmed
the “one China” policy. The PLA flew fighters across the “center” line of the Taiwan
Strait and conducted exercises along the coast opposite Taiwan. In early September,
CMC Vice Chairman General Zhang Wannian personally directed a major, joint landing
exercise. A tragic earthquake in Taiwan on September 21 defused the tensions.
November 19-21Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs
Kurt Campbell and Major General (USMC) Michael Hagee,
PACOM’s Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5), visited
Beijing to discuss resuming military contacts.
December 1-4U.S. military and PLA forces participated in Hong Kong’s annual
search and rescue exercise.
January 24-26Resuming contacts, Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai (a Deputyrd
Chief of General Staff) visited Washington to hold the 3 DCT with
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Slocombe. They discussed the
program for mil-to-mil contacts in 2000, international security issues,
U.S. strategy in Asia, the PLA’s missile buildup, Taiwan, missile
defense, weapons proliferation, and North Korea. Xiong met with
Secretary of Defense Cohen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General
Henry Shelton, Deputy National Security Advisor James Steinberg,
Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, and State Department
Senior Advisor John Holum.
February 17-18Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Under Secretary of Defense
for Policy Walter Slocombe, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff General Joseph Ralston, and Deputy National Security Advisor
James Steinberg visited Beijing (after visiting Tokyo) for a strategic
dialogue. They met with CMC Vice Chairman General Zhang
Wannian, who raised the Taiwan issue, including U.S. arms sales to
On February 21, 2000, ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election on March 18, 2000, the
PRC issued its second Taiwan White Paper, which declared a threat to use force against
Taiwan if a serious development leads to Taiwan’s separation from China in any name,
if there is foreign invasion or occupation of Taiwan, or if Taiwan’s government
indefinitely refuses to negotiate national unification (called the “Three Ifs”). Under
Secretary of Defense Slocombe, who was just in Beijing but was given no indication that
the PRC would issue the White Paper and the threat, responded forcefully on February
22 by warning that China would face “incalculable consequences” if it used force against
February 27-PACOM Commander, Admiral Dennis Blair, visited China and
March 2discussed tensions over Taiwan with Chief of General Staff, General
Fu Quanyou, and General Chi Haotian.
March 10-12Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited Hong Kong and
discussed issues such as port calls by the U.S. Navy and the
prevention of trans-shipments of advanced U.S. technology to
March 27-29A working group under the MMCA held a planning meeting in
April 14-22PLAN Commander, Admiral Shi Yunsheng, visited the United States,
coinciding with an annual round of U.S.-Taiwan arms sales talks in
Washington. Admiral Shi met with Secretary of Defense Cohen,
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers,
and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jay Johnson.
In April 2000, during a round of annual arms sales talks, the Clinton Administration
approved a request from Taiwan’s military to purchase AIM-120 Advanced Medium-
Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs).
May 28-June 3PACOM in Hawaii hosted the second plenary meeting under the
MMCA. PACOM’s Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5),
Major General Michael Hagee (USMC), and the PLA’s Deputy Chief
of Staff, Rear Admiral Wang Yucheng, led the proceedings. They
reviewed a mutually-produced document, “A Study on Sino-U.S.
Maritime Navigational Safety, Including Communications.”
June 13-14Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Frank Kramer visited Beijing and met with Major General Zhan
Maohai, Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, and General Chi
Haotian to plan Secretary of Defense Cohen’s visit to China.
June 13-21Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point),
Lieutenant General Daniel Christman, visited China. He met with
General Chi Haotian and visited the PLA’s Armored Force
Engineering Academy, where he was the first American to have
access to a PLA Type-96 main battle tank.
June 18-23Nanjing Military Region Commander Liang Guanglie led a PLA
delegation to visit PACOM in Hawaii and met with Admiral Dennis
On July 10, 2000, responding to objections from the Clinton Administration and
Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told PRC ruler Jiang Zemin in a letter that
Israel canceled the nearly completed sale of the Phalcon airborne early warning system
to the PLA. Prime Minister Barak informed President Clinton the next day during peace
talks at Camp David, MD.
July 11-15Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited Beijing and Shanghai.
Cohen met with President Jiang Zemin and Generals Chi Haotian,
Zhang Wannian, and Fu Quanyou. Cohen did not visit any PLA
bases. Cohen referred to the promise made by PRC President Jiang
Zemin during Cohen’s previous visit to China in January 1998 and
said that the PRC has abided by that agreement not to ship cruise
missiles to Iran. Cohen and General Chi signed an “Agreement on
the Exchange of Environmental Protection Research and
Development Information” and discussed the need for cross-strait
dialogue, weapons nonproliferation, and regional stability. The PRC
objected to U.S. plans for missile defense and pressure on Israel to
cancel the sale of the Phalcon airborne early warning system to the
PLA, concerning which Israel notified China just before Cohen’s
visit. Cohen offered to fund PLA students at PACOM’s APCSS in
Honolulu. Regarding Taiwan, General Chi said that China would
adopt a wait and see posture toward the leader of Taiwan (referring
to Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party, who won the
presidential election on March 18, 2000, bringing an end to the
Kuomintang (KMT)’s 55 years of rule in Taiwan). Cohen said that
the Administration viewed Chen as offering hope for cross-strait
reconciliation. In Shanghai, Cohen stepped out of the narrow mil-to-
mil context and met with Wang Daohan, chairman of the PRC’s
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). Cohen
said that Chen showed flexibility after becoming president and that
there was a window of opportunity for changes.
July 23-August 4A delegation of the PLA Medical Department visited the United
July 31-August 5Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, visited
Beijing and Qingdao in conjunction with the visit of the U.S. Navy’s
guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville in Qingdao (August 2-
August 21-President of the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences (AMS),
September 2General Wang Zuxun, visited the United States. There is no
counterpart in the U.S. military with which to set up reciprocal
exchanges. The AMS delegation included the Directors of the
Departments of Strategic Studies, Operational and Tactical Studies,
and Foreign Military Studies. They visited the Pentagon; Joint
Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia; West Point in New York;
Army War College in Pennsylvania; Army’s Training and Doctrine
Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe in Virginia; and PACOM in
Hawaii. The Joint Forces Command provided unclassified tours of
its Joint Training Directorate (J-7) and Joint Training Analysis
Simulation Center, but not the Joint Experimentation Battle Lab.
September 5-18PLA Navy ships (the Luhu-class destroyer Qingdao and Fuqing-class
oiler Taicang) visited Pearl Harbor, HI (September 5-8) and Naval
Station Everett, near Seattle, WA (September 14-18). In Hawaii, the
visitors toured the U.S. destroyer USS O’Kane.
OctoberFor the first time, the PLA invited two U.S. military personnel to
attend the one-month International Security Symposium at the NDU
in Beijing. (Subsequent invitations dropped required fees.)
October 10-18The PLA participated in a visit to the United States by a
Humanitarian Disaster Relief Sandtable Planning Team.
October 12-13Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig visited Shanghai, in the first
visit by a U.S. Secretary of the Navy to China. His visit was
curtailed because of the attack on the USS Cole in a Yemeni harbor
on October 12, 2000.
October 24-CMC Member and Director of the General Political Department
November 4(GPD) — the top political commissar, General Yu Yongbo, visited
the United States. He was hosted by Under Secretary of Defense for
Readiness Bernard Rostker. General Yu’s delegation visited the
Pentagon and met with Secretary of Defense Cohen; West Point in
New York; Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC; Fort Jackson
in South Carolina; Patrick Air Force Base in Florida; and PACOM
November 2-6Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton, visited
China, at the invitation of PLA Chief of General Staff, General Fu
Quanyou. The PLA allowed General Shelton to observe a brigade
exercising at the PLA’s Combined Arms Training Center in the
Nanjing Military Region. Shelton stressed the peaceful resolution of
the Taiwan question.
November 2-12A Deputy Chief of Staff of the PLA Navy, Rear Admiral Zhang
Zhannan, led a delegation from the Naval Command Academy (in
Nanjing) to visit Newport News, RI (Naval War College);
Washington, DC (including a meeting with the Secretary of the
Navy); Monterey, CA (Naval Post-Graduate School); and Honolulu,
HI (Pacific Command, including a tour aboard an Aegis-equipped
November 12-19A PLA NDU delegation (similar to the U.S. Capstone program)
visited the United States.
November 28-Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe visitedth
December 2Beijing to hold the 4 DCT with PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff
Xiong Guangkai. Slocombe also met with Generals Chi Haotian and
Fu Quanyou and visited the PLA Navy’s North Sea Fleet in Qingdao.
The U.S. and PRC sides discussed sharp differences over Taiwan and
missile defense, the program for mil-to-mil contacts in 2001, Korea,
and weapons proliferation.
December 3-9A Working Group under the MMCA held its second meeting (in
December 5-8U.S. military and PLA forces participated in Hong Kong’s annual
search and rescue exercise and worked together in a demonstration.
At the end of December 2000 in New York, PLA Senior Colonel Xu Junping, who
closely handled U.S.-PRC military relations, defected to the United States and presented
an intelligence loss for the PLA (reported Far Eastern Economic Review, April 5, 2001).
February 9-23Major General Wang Shouye, Director of the GLD’s Capital
Construction and Barracks Department, led a delegation on military
environmental protection matters to the United States. They visited
Washington, DC; Fort Pickett in Virginia; Fort Bliss in Texas; the
“boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; Las Vegas
in Nevada; and PACOM in Hawaii.
March 14-17PACOM Commander, Adm. Dennis Blair, visited Beijing, Nanjing,
and Shanghai. PACOM said that Blair’s trip was intended to discuss
military activities and plans of the PLA and PACOM, exchange
views and enhance mutual understanding, discuss Taiwan, and stress
the inclusion rather than exclusion of China in multilateral activities.
March 23-26The command ship of the 7th Fleet, the USS Blue Ridge, made a port
call to Shanghai. In conjunction with the ship visit, Vice Admiralth
James Metzger, Commander of the 7 Fleet, visited Shanghai and
met with Vice Admiral Zhao Guojun, Commander of the PLAN’s
East Sea Fleet.
On March 24, 2001, in the Yellow Sea near South Korea, a PLA Navy Jianghu III-class
frigate passed as close as 100 yards to a U.S. surveillance ship, the USS Bowditch, and
a PLA reconnaissance plane shadowed it.
On April 1, 2001, a PLA Navy F-8 fighter collided with a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance
plane over the South China Sea. Upon surviving the collision, the EP-3’s crew made an
emergency landing on China’s Hainan island. The PLA detained the 24 U.S. Navy
personnel for 11 days. Instead of acknowledging that the PLA had started aggressive
interceptions of U.S. reconnaissance flights in December 2000 and apologizing for the
accident, top PRC ruler Jiang Zemin demanded an apology and compensation from the
United States. The United States did not transport the damaged EP-3 out of China until
On April 24, 2001, during arms sales talks in Washington, President Bush approved a
request from Taiwan’s military to purchase weapons systems including diesel-electric
submarines; P-3 anti-submarine warfare aircraft; and destroyers (approving four Kidd-
class destroyers). The Bush Administration also decided to brief Taiwan on the PAC-3
missile defense missile. The next day, the President said in an interview that if the PRC
attacked Taiwan, he has an obligation to do “whatever it took to help Taiwan defend
September 14-15DOD and the PLA held a special meeting under the MMCA (in
Guam) to discuss how to avoid clashes like the one involving the EP-
3. The Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, Rear Admiral
Tom Fellin, led the U.S. delegation. The issues for U.S. side were:
principles of safe flight and navigation for military activities
conducted on the high seas, international airspace, and EEZs; and
safety of ships and aircraft exercising the right of distressed entry.
The Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Office, Major General
Zhang Bangdong, led the PLA delegation.
December 5-7A Working Group under the MMCA met in Beijing.
April 10-12The third plenary meeting under the MMCA was held in Shanghai.
PACOM’s Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5), Rear
Admiral William Sullivan, and the PLA Navy’s Deputy Chief of
Staff, Rear Admiral Zhou Borong, led the delegations.
April 27-May 1PRC Vice President Hu Jintao visited PACOM and was welcomed
by Admiral Dennis Blair. In Washington, Secretary of Defense
Rumsfeld welcomed Hu with an honor cordon at the Pentagon. PRC
media reported that Rumsfeld and Hu reached a consensus to resume
military exchanges, but the Pentagon’s spokeswoman said that they
agreed to have their representatives talk about how to proceed on mil-
to-mil contacts, which were still approved on a case-by-case basis.
Vice President Hu also met with President Bush and Vice President
May 14-28The PLA sent observers to Cobra Gold 2002 in Thailand, a combined
exercise involving forces of the United States, Thailand, and
June 26-27Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Peter Rodman visited Beijing to discuss a resumption of military
exchanges. He met with General Xiong Guangkai and General Chi
Haotian, who said that the PRC was ready to improve military
relations with the United States. Secretary Rumsfeld told reporters
on June 21, 2002, that Rodman would discuss the principles of
transparency, reciprocity, and consistency for mil-to-mil contacts that
Rumsfeld stressed to Vice President Hu Jintao.
July 15-29In the first POW/MIA mission in China on a Cold War case, a team
from the Army’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI)
went to northeastern Jilin province to search for, but did not find, the
remains of two CIA pilots whose C-47 plane was shot down in 1952
during the Korean War.
August 6-8The PLA and DOD held a meeting under the MMCA in Hawaii.
August- In a POW/MIA recovery mission, a team from the Army’s Central
SeptemberIdentification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI) recovered remains of the
crew of a C-46 cargo plane that crashed in March 1944 in Tibet
while flying the “Hump” route over the Himalaya mountains back to
India from Kunming, China, during World War II. The two-month
operation excavated a site at 15,600 ft.
October 8-14The President of NDU, Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney, visited Beijing,
Xian, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. He met with CMC Vice Chairman
and Defense Minister Chi Haotian, Deputy Chief of General Staff
Xiong Guangkai, and NDU President Xing Shizhong.
October 25President Bush held a summit with PRC President Jiang Zemin at his
ranch in Crawford, TX. Concerning security issues, President Bush
said they discussed “the threat posed by the Iraqi regime,” “concern
about the acknowledgment of the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea of a program to enrich uranium,” counterterrorism (calling
China an “ally”), weapons proliferation, Taiwan, and a “candid,
constructive, and cooperative” relationship with contacts at many
levels in coming months, including “a new dialogue on security
issues.” Jiang offered a vague proposal to reconsider the PLA’s
missile buildup in return for restraints in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
November 24In the first U.S. naval port call to mainland China since the EP-3
crisis, the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster visited Qingdao.
November 30-Lieutenant General Gao Jindian, a Vice President of the NDU, led
December 8a Capstone-like delegation to the United States.
December 4-6The Maritime and Air Safety Working Group under the MMCA met
in Qingdao. The U.S. team toured the destroyer Qingdao.
December 9-10Following a two-year hiatus after the previous Defense Consultativeth
Talks (DCT) in December 2000, the Pentagon held the 5 DCT (the
first under the Bush Administration) and kept U.S. representation at
the same level as that under the Clinton Administration. Under
Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith met with General
Xiong Guangkai, a Deputy Chief of General Staff, at the Pentagon.
The PLA played up the status of Xiong and the DCT, calling the
meeting “defense consultations at the vice ministerial level.” At U.S.
urging, Xiong brought a proposal for mil-to-mil exchanges in 2003.
Feith told reporters that he could not claim progress in gaining
greater reciprocity and transparency in the exchanges, although they
had a discussion of these issues. They did not discuss Jiang’s offer
on the PLA’s missile buildup. Feith also said that DOD had no major
change in its attitude toward the PLA since the EP-3 crisis. Secretary
Rumsfeld did not meet with Xiong. Deputy Secretary of Defense
Wolfowitz and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice met with
Xiong on December 10.
December 12-17PACOM Commander, Admiral Thomas Fargo, visited Chengdu,
Nanjing, Ningbo, Beijing, and Shanghai. The PLA showed him a
live-fire exercise conducted by a reserve unit of an infantry division
in Sichuan. General Liang Guanglie (Chief of General Staff) met
with Admiral Fargo.
March 25-29The Director of the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO), Deputy
Assistant Secretary of Defense Jerry Jennings, visited China and met
with officials of the PLA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Red Cross
Society of China. Jennings said that the PRC has records that may
well hold “the key” to helping DOD to resolve many of the cases of
American POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War, the Korean War,
and the Cold War. While the PRC has been “very cooperative” in
U.S. investigations of losses from World War II and Vietnam,
Jennings said both sides suggested ways to “enhance cooperation” on
Korean War cases and acknowledged that there is limited time.
Jennings sought access to information in PRC archives at the national
and provincial levels, assistance from PRC civilian researchers to
conduct archival research on behalf of the United States, information
from the Dandong Museum relating to two F-86 pilots who are
Korean War MIAs, and resumption of contact with PLA veterans
from the Korean War to build on information related to the PRC
operation of POW camps during the war.
April 9-11In Hawaii, in the fourth plenary meeting under the MMCA,
PACOM’s Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J5), Rear
Admiral William Sullivan, met with PLA Navy’s Deputy Chief of
Staff, Rear Admiral Zhou Borong.
April 25-May 4The Commandant of the PLA’s NDU, Lieutenant General Pei
Huailiang, led a delegation to visit the U.S. Naval Academy in
Annapolis, MD; U.S. NDU in Washington, DC; Marine Corps
Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA; and PACOM in Honolulu, HI.
May 15-29The PLA sent observers to Cobra Gold 2003 in Thailand, a combined
exercise involving the armed forces of the United States, Thailand,
August 19-21The Military Maritime and Air Safety Working Group under the
MMCA met in Hawaii. The PLA delegation met with PACOM’s
Chief of Staff for the Director for Strategic Planning and Policy,
Brigadier General (USAF) Charles Neeley, and toured the U.S.
Aegis-equipped cruiser USS Lake Erie.
August 25The PLA arranged for 27 military observers from the United States
and other countries to be the first foreign military observers to visit
China’s largest combined arms training base (in the Inner Mongolia
Autonomous Region) and watch an exercise that involved elements
of force-on-force, live-fire, and joint operational maneuvers
conducted by the Beijing Military Region.
September 22-26In the first foreign naval ship visit to Zhanjiang, the cruiser USS
Cowpens and frigate USS Vandegrift visited this homeport of the
PLAN’s South Sea Fleet. Its Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Hou
Yuexi, welcomed Rear Admiral James Kelly, Commander of Carrier
Group Five, who also visited.
October 22-25The PLAN destroyer Shenzhen and supply ship Qinghai Lake visited
October 24-CMC Vice Chairman and PRC Defense Minister, General Cao
November 1Gangchuan, visited PACOM in Hawaii, West Point in New York,
and Washington, DC, where he met with Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. General Cao
stressed that Taiwan was the most important issue. The PLA sought
the same treatment for General Cao as that given to General Chi
Haotian when he visited Washington as defense minister in 1996 and
was granted a meeting with President Clinton. In the end, President
Bush dropped by for five minutes when General Cao met with
National Security Advisor Rice at the White House. Rumsfeld did
not attend the PRC Embassy’s banquet for Cao. At PACOM, Cao
met with Admiral Thomas Fargo, toured the cruiser USS Lake Erie.
November 12-19Nanjing Military Region Commander, Lieutenant General Zhu
Wenquan, visited PACOM where he met with Admiral Thomas
Fargo and boarded the destroyer USS Russell. LTG Zhu also visited
San Diego, where he toured the carrier USS Nimitz and the Marine
Corps Recruit Depot. He also stopped in Washington, DC, and West
Point in New York.
On November 18, 2003, a PRC official on Taiwan affairs who is a PLA major general,
Wang Zaixi, issued a threat to use force against the perceived open promotion of Taiwan
independence. Campaigning for re-election on March 20, 2004, Taiwan’s President Chen
Shui-bian was calling for controversial referendums and a new Taiwan constitution. On
the eve of his visit to Washington, PRC Premier Wen Jiabao threatened that China would
“pay any price to safeguard the unity of the motherland.” On December 3, PRC media
reported the warnings of a PLA major general and a senior colonel at AMS, who wrote
that Chen’s use of referendums to seek independence will push Taiwan into the “abyss
of war.” They warned that China would be willing to pay the costs of war, including
boycotts of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, drops in foreign investment, setbacks in
foreign relations, wartime damage to the southeastern coast, economic costs, and PLA
casualties. Appearing with Premier Wen at the White House on December 9, 2003,
President Bush criticized Chen, saying that “we oppose any unilateral decision by either
China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And the comments and actions made by the
leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change
the status quo, which we oppose.”
January 13-16The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General (USAF) Richard
Myers, visited Beijing, the first visit to China by the highest ranking
U.S. military officer since November 2000. General Myers met with
Generals Guo Boxiong and Cao Gangchuan (CMC Vice Chairmen)
and General Liang Guanglie (PLA Chief of General Staff). CMC
Chairman Jiang Zemin met briefly with Myers, echoing President
Bush’s brief meeting with General Cao. The PLA generals and Jiang
stressed Taiwan as their critical issue. General Myers stressed that
the United States has a responsibility under the TRA to assist
Taiwan’s ability to defend itself and to ensure that there will be no
temptation to use force. Myers pointed to the PLA’s missile buildup
as a threat to Taiwan. The PLA allowed Myers to be the first foreign
visitor to tour the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, headquarters of
its space program. Myers discussed advancing mil-to-mil contacts,
including search and rescue exercises, educational exchanges, ship
visits, and senior-level exchanges (including a visit by General Liang
Guanglie). Myers also indicated a U.S. expectation of exchanges
between younger officers, saying that interactions at the lower level
can improve mutual understanding in the longer run.
February 10-11Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith visited Beijingth
to hold the 6 DCT with General Xiong Guangkai, a meeting which
the PLA side claimed to be “defense consultations at the vice
ministerial level.” Feith met with General Cao Gangchuan (a CMC
Vice Chairman and Defense Minister), who raised extensively the
issue of Taiwan and the referendums. Feith said he discussed North
Korean nuclear weapons, Taiwan, and maritime safety. He stressed
that avoiding a war in the Taiwan Strait was in the interests of both
countries and that belligerent rhetoric and the PLA’s missile buildup
do not help to reduce cross-strait tensions. The PRC’s Foreign
Ministry said that the two sides discussed a program for mil-to-mil
contacts in 2004. The Department of Defense proposed a defense
telephone link (DTL), or “hotline,” with the PLA.
February 24-28The USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet’s command ship, visited Shanghai.
In conjunction with the port call, Vice Admiral Robert Willard,th
Commander of the 7 Fleet, met with Rear Admiral Zhao Guojun,
Commander of the East Sea Fleet.
March 9-11The Maritime and Air Safety Working Group under the MMCA met
in Shanghai. The U.S. visitors met with Rear Admiral Zhou Borong,
Deputy Chief of Staff of the PLAN, and toured the frigate
May 3-June 29A team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC)
traveled to northeastern city of Dandong near China’s border with
North Korea on an operation to recover remains of a pilot whose F-
86 fighter was shot down during the Korean War. In following up on
an initial operation in July 2002 on a Cold War case, the U.S. team
also went to northeastern Jilin province to recover remains of two
CIA pilots whose C-47 transport plane was shot down in 1952.
July 21-25PACOM Commander, Admiral Thomas Fargo, visited China and met
with General Liu Zhenwu (Guangzhou Military Region Commander),
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, General Liang Guanglie (Chief of
General Staff), and General Xiong Guangkai (a Deputy Chief of
General Staff), who opposed U.S. arms sales and defense cooperation
with Taiwan. Fargo said that policy on Taiwan has not changed.
August-DPMO sent a team to Tibet to recover wreckage from a site where a
SeptemberC-46 aircraft crashed during World War II.
September 24-27The USS Cushing, a destroyer with the Pacific Fleet, visited Qingdao
for a port visit.
October 24-30Reciprocating General Myers’ visit to China, PLA Chief of General
Staff, General Liang Guanglie, visited the United States, including
the Joint Forces Command and Joint Forces Staff College at Norfolk;
the carrier USS George Washington and the destroyer USS Laboon
at Norfolk Naval Base; Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force
Base; Joint Task Force-Civil Support at Fort Monroe; Army Infantry
Center at Fort Benning; Washington, D.C.; and Air Force Academy
in Colorado Springs. In Washington, General Liang held meetings
with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State
Colin Powell, and General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld saw General Liang
briefly. Talks covered military exchanges, the Six-Party Talks on
North Korea, and Taiwan.
November 22-23DPMO held Technical Talks in Beijing on POW/MIA recovery
operations in 2005.
January 30-Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless visited Beijing
February 1to hold a Special Policy Dialogue for the first time, as a forum to
discuss policy problems separate from safety concerns under the
MMCA. Meeting with Zhang Bangdong, Director of the PLA’s
Foreign Affairs Office, Lawless tried to negotiate an agreement on
military maritime and air safety. He also discussed a program of
military contacts in 2005, the U.S. proposal of February 2004 for a
“hotline,” Taiwan, the DCTs, PLA’s buildup, and a possible visit by
Secretary Rumsfeld. Lawless also met with General Xiong
February 23-25Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs Jerry
Jennings visited Beijing and Dandong to discuss China’s assistance
in resolving cases from the Vietnam War and World War II. He also
continued to seek access to China’s documents related to POW
camps that China managed during the Korean War. At Dandong,
Jennings announced the recovery of the remains of a U.S. Air Force
pilot who was missing-in-action from the Korean War.
April 29-30General Xiong Guangkai, Deputy Chief of General Staff, visitedth
Washington to hold the 7 DCT with Under Secretary of Defense
Douglas Feith. They continued to discuss the U.S. proposal for a
“hotline” and an agreement on military maritime and air safety with
the PLA and also talked about military exchanges, international
security issues, PLA modernization, U.S. military redeployments, and
energy. Xiong also met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and Under
Secretary of State Nicholas Burns.
July 7-8The Department of Defense and the PLA held an annual MMCA
meeting in Qingdao, to discuss unresolved maritime and air safety
issues under the MMCA.
July 18-22General Liu Zhenwu, Commander of the PLA’s Guangzhou Military
Region, visited Hawaii, as hosted by Admiral William Fallon,
Commander of the Pacific Command. Among visits to parts of the
Pacific Command, General Liu toured the USS Chosin, a
September 6-11Admiral William Fallon, Commander of the Pacific Command,
visited Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong at the
invitation of General Liu Zhenwu, Guangzhou Military Region
Commander. As Admiral Fallon said he sought to deepen the
“exceedingly limited military interaction,” he met with high-ranking
PLA Generals Guo Boxiong (CMC Vice Chairman) and Liang
Guanglie (Chief of General Staff). Fallon discussed military contacts
between junior officers; PLA observers at U.S. exercises; exchanges
with more transparency and reciprocity; cooperation in disaster relief
and control of avian flu; and reducing tensions.
September 13-16The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur visited Qingdao, hosted by the PLA
Navy’s North Sea Fleet.
September 27U.S. and other foreign military observers (from 24 countries)
observed a PLA exercise (“North Sword 2005”) at the PLA’s Zhurihe
training base in Inner Mongolia in the Beijing MR.
October 18-20Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Beijing, China. He met
with General Cao Gangchuan (including a visit to the office in thest
August 1 [Bayi] Building of this CMC Vice Chairman and Defense
Minister), General Guo Boxiong (a CMC Vice Chairman), General
Jing Zhiyuan (commander of the Second Artillery, or missile corps,
in the first foreign visit to its headquarters), and Hu Jintao
(Communist Party General Secretary, CMC Chairman, and PRC
president). General Jing introduced the Second Artillery and
repeated the PRC’s declared “no first use” nuclear weapons policy.
Rumsfeld’s discussions covered military exchanges; greater
transparency from the PLA, including its spending; China’s rising
global influence; Olympics in Beijing in 2008; and China’s manned
space program. Rumsfeld also held round-tables at the Central Party
School and Academy of Military Science. The PLA denied a U.S.
request to visit its command center in the Western Hills, outside
Beijing, and continued to deny agreement on a “hot line.” The PLA
did not agree to open archives believed to hold documents on
American POWs in the Korean War, an issue raised by Assistant
Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman and Deputy Under Secretary of
Defense Richard Lawless.
November 13-19The PLA sent its first delegation of younger, mid-ranking brigade
and division commanders and commissars to the United States. Led
by Major General Zhang Wenda, Deputy Director of the GSD’s
General Office, they visited units of the Pacific Command in Hawaii
December 8-9Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Lawless visited Beijing to
discuss the military exchange program in 2006 and military maritime
security. He met with the Director of the PLA’s Foreign Affairs
Office, Major General Zhang Bangdong, and Deputy Chief of
General Staff, General Xiong Guangkai.
December 12-15A delegation from the PLA’s NDU, led by Rear Admiral Yang Yi,
Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies, visited Washington
(NDU, Pentagon, and State Department).
December 13Following up on Rumsfeld’s visit, a DPMO delegation visited
Beijing to continue to seek access to China’s archives believed to
contain information on American POWs during the Korean War.
The delegation also discussed POW/MIA investigations and recovery
operations in China in 2006.
January 9-13PLA GLD delegation representing all military regions visited
PACOM (hosted by Col. William Carrington, J1) to discuss
personnel management, especially U.S. vs. PLA salaries.
February 27-28A PACOM military medical delegation visited China.
March 13-18To reciprocate the PLA’s first mid-ranking delegation’s visit in
November 2005, PACOM’s J5 (Director for Strategic Planning and
Policy), Rear Admiral Michael Tracy, led a delegation of 20 O-5 and
O-6 officers from PACOM’s Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force
commands to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Ningbo.
April 9-15NDU President Lt. Gen. Michael Dunn and Commandant of the
Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) Maj. Gen. Frances
Wilson visited Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai.
May 9-15PACOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon, visited Beijing, Xian,
Hangzhou, and cities close to the border with North Korea, including
Shenyang. He met with a CMC Vice Chairman, General Cao
Gangchuan, and a Deputy Chief of General Staff, General Ge
Zhenfeng, and discussed issues that included the U.S.-Japan alliance
and real PLA spending. Fallon was the first U.S. official to visit thethth
the 28 Air Division near Hangzhou, he was the first U.S. official to
see a new FB-7 fighter. He invited the PLA to observe the U.S.
“Valiant Shield” exercise in June near Guam.
May 15-26A PLA delegation observed “Cobra Gold,” a multilateral exercise
hosted by Thailand and PACOM.
June 8Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman visited Beijing for theth
8 DCT, the first time at this lower level and without Xiong
Guangkai. He talked with Major General Zhang Qinsheng, Assistant
Chief of General Staff, about exchanges, weapons nonproliferation,
counterterrorism, Olympics, invitation to the Second Artillery
commander to visit, etc.
June 16-23A PLA and civilian delegation of 12, led by Rear Admiral Zhang
Leiyu, a PLAN Deputy Chief of Staff and submariner, observed the
U.S. “Valiant Shield” exercise that involved three carrier strike
groups near Guam. They boarded the USS Ronald Reagan and
visited Guam’s air and naval bases.
June 27-30USS Blue Ridge (7th Fleet’s command ship) visited Shanghai.
July 16-22The highest ranking PLA commander, CMC Vice Chairman Guord
Boxiong, visited San Diego (3 Marine Aircraft Wing and carrier
USS Ronald Reagan), Washington, and West Point, at Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld’s invitation. General Guo agreed to hold a
combined naval search and rescue exercise (a U.S. proposal for the
past two years in the context of the MMCA talks) and to allow U.S.
access to PLA archives with information on U.S. POW/MIAs from
the Korean War (a U.S. request for many years). Guo personally
gave Rumsfeld information on his friend, Lt. j.g. James Deane, a
Navy pilot who was shot down by the PLA Air Force in 1956. Guo
also had meetings with Representatives Mark Steven Kirk and Rick
Larsen (co-chairs of the U.S.-China Working Group), Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, and National Security Advisor Stephen
Hadley, and President Bush briefly dropped by during the latter.
During the meetings and an address at the National Defense
University, General Guo discussed North Korea’s July 4 missile
tests, critically citing the U.N. Security Council resolution
condemning the tests (remarks not reported by PRC press). In
contrast to the meeting in Beijing with General Myers in January
2004, Taiwan was not a heated issue in General Guo’s talks with
Rumsfeld and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
August 7-11MMCA plenary and working group meetings held in Hawaii. The
two sides established communication protocols, planned
communications and maneuver exercises, and scripted the two phases
of the planned search and rescue exercise.
August 21-23PACOM Commander, Admiral Fallon, visited Harbin.
September 6-20The PLAN destroyer Qingdao visited Pearl Harbor (and held the first
U.S.-PLA basic exercise in the use of tactical signals with the U.S.
Navy destroyer USS Chung-Hoon) and San Diego (and held the first
bilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX), under the MMCA,
with the destroyer USS Shoup).
September 10-A large, 58-member PLA Air Force delegation, with its own PLAAF
New Jersey, and Washington, DC.
September 20-DPMO Team visited China to discuss POW/MIA concerns.
September 26USS Chancellorsville made a port visit to Qingdao.
September 26-Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Ryan
28Henry, visited Beijing and Xian. He briefed PLA General Ge
Zhenfeng, Deputy Chief of General Staff, on the Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) of February 2006.
October 8-13A U.S. delegation from the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of
Defense for Installations and Environment visited China to discuss
military environmental issues.
October 20-27A delegation of NDU operational commanders visited the United
On October 26, 2006, a PLAN Song-class diesel electric submarine approached
undetected to within five miles of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk near Okinawa.
PACOM Commander Admiral Fallon argued that the incident showed the need for
military-to-military engagement to avoid escalations of tensions.
October 30-PLA mid-level, division and brigade commanders (senior colonels
November 4and colonels) visited Honolulu, toured the destroyer USS Preble in
San Diego, and observed training at Camp Pendleton Marine Base.
They were denied requests to have closer looks at an aircraft carrier
November 12-Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Gary Roughead, visited
19Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhanjiang, overseeing second phase of
bilateral search and rescue exercise (involving the visiting
amphibious transport dock USS Juneau and destroyer USS
Fitzgerald), and the first Marine Corps visit to the PRC.
December 7-8Stemming from the MMCA-related Special Policy Dialogue of 2005,
the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense held Defense Policy
Coordination Talks (DPCT) in Washington with the director of the
PLA’s Foreign Affairs Office to discuss a dispute over EEZs.
On January 11, 2007, the PLA conducted its first successful direct-ascent anti-satellite
(ASAT) weapons test by launching a missile with a kinetic kill vehicle to destroy a
PRC satellite at about 530 miles up in space.
January 28-Deputy Chief of General Staff, General Ge Zhenfeng led a PLA
February 9delegation to visit PACOM in Honolulu, Washington, Fort Monroe,
Fort Benning, and West Point. The U.S. Chief of Staff of the Army
(CSA) hosted Ge, who also met with the Deputy Secretary of
Defense and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the
Pentagon. However, the PLA declined to attend the Pacific Armies’
Chiefs’ Conference in August and a reciprocal visit by the CSA.
January 30-31DPMO/JPAC delegation visited China to discuss POW/MIA
February 23-28Commander of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, Lt. General
Karl Eikenberry, visited China.
March 22-25Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Peter
Pace, was hosted in China by Chief of General Staff Liang Guanglie
and also met with CMC Vice Chairmen Guo Boxiong and Cao
Gangchuan. Pace visited Beijing, Shenyang, Anshan, Dalian, and
Nanjing, including the Academy of Military Sciences, Shenyang MR
(where he was the first U.S. official to sit in a PLAAF Su-27 fighter
and a T-99 tank), and the Nanjing MR command center.
April 1-7PLA Navy Commander Wu Shengli visited Honolulu and
Washington, where he met with the PACOM Commander Keating,
Pacific Fleet Commander Roughhead, Chief of Naval Operations
(CNO) Mullen, Deputy Secretary of Defense England, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Pace, and Navy Secretary Winter. The CNO,
Admiral Michael Mullen, discussed his “1,000-ship navy” maritime
security concept with Vice Admiral Wu. He also toured the Naval
Academy at Annapolis, the cruiser USS Lake Erie in Honolulu, and
aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman and nuclear attack submarine USS
Montpelier at Norfolk Naval Base. Wu also went to West Point.
April 15-22General Counsel of the Defense Department William Haynes II
visited Beijing and Shanghai, and met with GPD Director Li Jinai.
Haynes sought to understand the rule of law in China.
April 21-28U.S. mid-level officers’ visit to China, led by RAdm Michael Tracy
(PACOM J-5). The delegation visited Beijing, Qingdao, Nanjing,
and Shenyang, including the East Sea Fleet Headquarters, a Su-27th
fighter base, and 179 Brigade.
May 12-16PACOM Commander Admiral Timothy Keating visited Beijing,
meeting with CMC Vice Chairman Guo Boxiong and questioning the
ASAT weapon test in January. Keating also met with PLA Navy
Commander Wu Shengli and heard interest in acquiring an aircraft
carrier. Keating visited the Nanjing Military Region (including theth
Nanjing Naval Command, Nanjing Polytechnic Institute, and 179
Brigade). At a press conference in Beijing on May 12, Keating
suggested U.S. “help” if China builds aircraft carriers.
July 23-29Pacific Air Forces Commander, General Paul Hester, visited Beijing
and Nanjing. He met with PLAAF Commander Qiao Qingchen and
Deputy Chief of General Staff Ge Zhenfeng. Hester visited Jining
Air Base (as the first U.S. visitor) and Jianqiao Air Base. He was
denied access to the J-10 fighter.
August 17-23After nomination to be Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CNO,
Adm. Michael Mullen, visited Lushun, Qingdao, Ningbo, and Dalian
Naval Academy. He met with PLAN Commander Wu Shengli and
two CMC Vice Chairmen, Generals Guo Boxiong and Cao
Gangchuan. After postponing his reciprocal visit (for hosting PLAN
Commander Wu Shengli in April) due to inadequate substance and
access given by the PLA, Mullen got unprecedented observation of
an exercise, boarding a Song-class sub and Luzhou-class destroyer.
November 4-6Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited China (then South Korea and
Japan). Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan finally agreed to the U.S.
proposal to set up a defense telephone link (hotline). Gates also
sought a dialogue on nuclear policy and broader exchanges beyond
the senior level. Gates also met with CMC Vice Chairmen Guo
Boxiong and Xu Caihou, and Chairman Hu Jintao.
In November 2007, the PRC disapproved a number of port calls at Hong Kong by U.S.
Navy ships, including two minesweepers in distress (USS Patriot and USS Guardian)
seeking to refuel in face of an approaching storm, and the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk
and accompanying vessels planning on a holiday and family reunions for Thanksgiving.
The Pentagon protested to the PLA. When the Kitty Hawk left Hong Kong, it transited
the Taiwan Strait, raising PRC objections. In Beijing in January 2008, Adm. Keating
asserted that the strait is international water and PRC permission is not needed.
December 39th DCT was held in Washington. PLA Deputy Chief of General
Staff Ma Xiaotian and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric
Edelman led discussions that covered PLA objections to U.S. arms
sales to Taiwan and U.S. law restricting military contacts, military
exchanges in 2008, nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran
(including the just-issued U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on
Iran’s nuclear program), lower-ranking exchanges, hotline, PLA’s
suspension of some visits and port calls in Hong Kong, and U.S.
interest in a strategic nuclear dialogue. The PLA delegation includednd
PLAN Deputy Chief of Staff Zhang Leiyu and 2 Artillery Deputy
Chief of Staff Yang Zhiguo. They also met: Deputy Defense
Secretary Gordon England, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff James Cartwright, Deputy National Security Advisor James
Jeffrey, and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
January 13-16In his 2nd visit as PACOM Commander, Adm. Timothy Keating,
visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, before Hong Kong. He
visited AMS and Guangzhou MR, and met with PLA Chief of
General Staff, General Chen Bingde; CMC Vice Chairman, General
Guo Boxiong, who demanded an end to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Keating discussed planned exchanges with a new invitation to the
PLA to participate in the Cobra Gold multilateral exercise in May,
the PRC’s strategic intentions, denied port calls in Hong Kong, etc.
(But the PLA only observed Cobra Gold in Thailand in May 2008.)
February 25-26PACOM’s Director for Strategic Planning and Policy (J-5), USMC
Major General Thomas Conant, and PLA Navy Deputy Chief of Staff
Zhang Leiyu led an annual meeting under the MMCA in Qingdao,
the first since 2006. The U.S. delegation visited the frigate Luoyang.
The U.S. side opposed PLA proposals to discuss policy differences
and plan details of naval exercises at the MMCA meetings.
February 25-29Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs
Charles Ray signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Shanghai on
February 29, 2008, gaining indirect access to PLA archives on the
Korean War in an effort to resolve decades-old POW/MIA cases.
February 26-29Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney met with PLA
Assistant Chief of General Staff, Major General Chen Xiaogong, in
Beijing. Sedney also led another meeting of the DPCT in Shanghai.
Sedney and Major General Qian Lihua, Director of the PLA’s
Foreign Affairs Office, signed an agreement to set up a hotline.
Days before Taiwan’s presidential election on March 22, 2008, in a sign of U.S. anxiety
about PRC threats to peace and stability, the Defense Department had two aircraft
carriers (including the Kitty Hawk returning from its base in Japan for decommissioning)
positioned east of Taiwan to respond to any provocative situation.
March 8-15PACOM’s Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Policy,
Brigadier General Sam Angelella, led a 19-member delegation of
mid-level officers to Beijing, Zhengzhou, and Qingdao.
March 30-AprilThe U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, General James Conway,
Conway met with Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and spoke at
NDU. The PLAN allowed Conway to board an amphibious ship, a
destroyer, and an expeditionary fighting vehicle. In meeting
Guangzhou MR Commander, Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng, Conway
apparently discussed deploying forces together in disaster relief
April 21-22The first discussion on nuclear weapon strategy and policy was held
in Washington, DC, at the “experts” level.
May 18After the earthquake in China on May 12, PACOM sent two C-17
transport aircraft to Chengdu to deliver disaster relief supplies.
PACOM Commander Keating used the Pentagon’s hotline to discuss
that aid with PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff Ma Xiaotian.