Just like Fredo Corleone, communist powers want one thing above all others -- respect -- and after many bumps in the road, the Obama administration's strategy this year with China has been to give exactly that. Secretary Gates played it cool when the J-20 flew during his visit. He didn't make any threats about Kim Jong Il's misbehavior; he just reminded everyone that it's unwise to play with fire. Chinese President Hu Jintao had a relatively smooth visit to Washington, as did China's top general, Gen. Chen Bingde -- in this context of low expectations, both of their comparatively boring, standard diplomatic trips count as successes.
When the prospect of a big arms sale to Taiwan threatened to upset this thaw, Washington put the kibosh on it. And now, Adm. Mullen has taken up Chen's offer to visit China, where he arrived this weekend to visit with his counterparts and tour Chinese military facilities. The United States, Mullen repeated, wants a military-to-military relationship with China that can weather the diplomatic storms that crash across the Pacific every so often, and in particular, he told Chinese officials that it was important "to strengthen exchanges between the two nuclear strategic forces," according to the China Daily.
Mullen also told Chinese officials the U.S. looks forward to collaborating on the anti-piracy, humanitarian relief and other exercises that Chen described during his visit to the Pentagon. But more fundamentally, Mullen said he and official Washington recognize China as a peer, and the world of the 21st century needs both it and the U.S. to work together to deal with global issues.
Per DoD's story:
“China today is a different country than it was 10 years ago… It is no longer a rising power. It has, in fact, arrived as a world power,” Mullen said. Likewise, he said the United States is changing, too, along with the context and global order in which both countries operate.
“I believe that our dialogue needs to keep pace with these changes,” the chairman said. “It needs to move from working out the particular issues and conditions of our bilateral relationship, to working together to meet broader – and common – goals we share.”
Pursuing a positive, renewed military relationship between the U.S. and China will take a serious commitment, but ultimately, will provide benefit that extends far beyond both countries’ borders.
“A well-ordered world and a prosperous Asia need both a strong and prosperous America, and a strong and prosperous China,” he said. Mullen offered assurances that the United States “stands ready to stay engaged” with China to pursue that mutual goal.