Complaining of "mixed signals" from China , Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday the communist government must demonstrate more clearly its interest in improving U.S.-China relations. He also lectured party officials on the lessons of democracy and free speech. Rumsfeld cited a "rapid, non-transparent" buildup of the Chinese military and said this makes other countries, including the United States, wonder whether Beijing will hold to a peaceful path.
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. The school is a key training ground for people the Communist Party considers its rising stars and future leaders.
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. Chinese officials required U.S. reporters to leave the room after the initial exchange, as planned.
Later, Rumsfeld was meeting with President Hu Jintao, a previous president of the Central Party School.
In his prepared opening remarks, Rumsfeld said China is raising global suspicion about its military intentions by failing to acknowledge the true size of recent increases in its defense spending.
Later, at a joint news conference at the Ministry of Defense, Rumsfeld's counterpart, Gen. Cao Gangchuan, said U.S.-China relations are strong, although he noted that it had been five years since an American secretary of defense visited China. He called Rumsfeld's visit a "big event," reports the AP. I.L.