U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Cao Gangchuan Monday to discuss broadening defense relations, which is his first time in China after inauguration. Gates said China and America would establish a hotline between their defence ministries and defense relations between the two countries should expand as the United States and China’s economic ties strengthen. (United Press International Nov. 5, 2007)

Both Chinese and U.S newspapers and websites reported this event as a piece of positive news and deemed it necessary for bilateral military dialogue to be embarked on. By and large, I agree that as the largest growing political and economical entity in the 21st century China has been called to take greater share of responsibility for the health and success of the international system. Dingsheng Ma, a military commentator in Phoenix TV(Hongkong), put it: “On the premise of diplomatic trust between both sides, it is not hard for our military authorities to establish mutual cooperation……This will soon be realized.”

However, Ma was totally wrong. According to Finical Times this Monday, Beijing “declined to commit to a timetable for setting up a hotline link which Washington wants to help avert future crises.”(Beijing drags feet over US hotline, by M.Dickie, FT, Nov 5 2007) General Cao did not say when he thought the link might be put into place. “We will both urge the relevant departments to press ahead with the technical consultations and preparations,” he said.

Technical consultations and preparations? Can that be a proper excuse? The military hotline between Taiwan and America was established effortlessly within a few days months ago. So, how long will a Chinese one take? I think the essential issue mainly lies in the suspicion of China. As it has been reported that, UPI(United Press International) made a analysis as to ChinaPR’s military ability on Taiwan island, which indicate the PLA’s capability to attack the offshore islands is in fact growing much stronger, and this arose the demurral of Chinese government. Early this year, America deployed a lot troops around Asia-pacific area. All these are seen as warning signs by Chinese government. During the whole process of the dialogue, Gen. Cao firmly reaffirmed that Taiwan island is an indispensable part of China and Gates just used some diplomatic terms as a respond. Although Chinese regard Gates as a “better guy” than the former U.S. Defense Secretary, although there is little possibility that a real armed confrontation would break out in the Taiwan Strait, the status quo of this area is not as good as the propaganda made by some media.

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