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Rumsfeld holds talks with China defense chief Cao
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-19 19:26

Calling U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit a "big event," Beijing said the two large and important countries have a broad range of shared interests and a solid footing for building cooperation.

Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan (R) and his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld share a light moment at the welcoming ceremony in Beijing Oct. 19. [newsphoto]

Defense Minister General Cao Gangchuan told a joint press conference in Beijing Wednesday that China's priority was to develop the economy and raise the living standards. China is in no position to project military power and race militarily with the United States.

Rumsfeld said his meeting with Cao was "constructive, candid and useful."

"I sense a desire on the part of the minister to find activities and ways we can work with each other that will contribute to demystifying what we see of them and what they see of us," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

The atmosphere surrounding Rumsfeld's visit appeared friendly and optimistic, the Associated Press reported.

Rumsfeld applauded China's dramatic economic successes, noting that when he first visited Beijing in 1974 as President Gerald R. Ford's chief of staff, the streets were filled with bicycles, not cars.

In his prepared opening remarks, Rumsfeld, echoing a Pentagon Report on China's military sent to Congress earlier, said China is raising global suspicion because its defense spending is not "transparent."

General Cao said it would be "simply impossible" to increase the budget on the scale cited by the Pentagon because China is focusing its resources on fighting domestic poverty.

"It is not necessary and not possible, actually, for us to massively increase the defense budget," Cao said. He defended the accuracy of China's report that its 2005 defense budget is about $29 billion, compared with the $90 billion the Pentagon claims.

Even calculating it at a more recent exchange rate (following the July 21 revaluation), the budget comes to $30.2 billion, Cao said.

"That is, indeed, the true budget we have today," he said.. Cao told reporters that "some funding for the development of equipment" is excluded from the published budget, such as China’s space launch program.

On his first visit to China as defense secretary, Rumsfeld delivered an address to the Central Party School and fielded questions from several students and faculty members.

When one professor told Rumsfeld that China hears "different voices," or conflicting messages, from U.S. officials, Rumsfeld replied, "I hadn't noticed that." He went on to say that it is China, not the United States, that has sent conflicting signals about its future intentions.

"So we see mixed signals and we seek clarification," Rumsfeld said.

"While there is no one model that is perfect for every nation at every time in its development, a look across the globe suggests that societies that tend to encourage more open markets and freer systems are societies where the people are enjoying the greatest opportunities," Rumsfeld said at the Central Party School.

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