Yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld began a two day visit to China to discuss chinese military capabilities and relations with the United States. Rumsfeld is visiting with some of China's top leaders including President Hu Jintao and Defense Secretary Cao Gangchuan. The Defense Department hopes that these meetings will shed some light on China's elusive military.
US officials are guarding against overt optimism for Rumsfeld's trip. Many DOD leaders continue to have a realistic/pessimistic attitude towards China. China also views Rumsfeld's DOD with caution. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld must capitalize on this opportunity to gain intelligence on China's current and future military capabilities and possibly even insights on their motivations.
Before the US can improve relations with China militarily, US policymakers must know more about China's capabilities and intentions. If China calms American fears that China's expanding military power will not be focused on America, then perhaps an improvement of relations could slowly commence. Rumsfeld's goals in this visit are dead on; the US must learn more before we can determine our course of action towards China's military. In the meantime, the US must continue to keep China a high priority in our strategic thinking. America cannot ignore the possible China threat.