U.S. Military Officials Ready for China Visit: First Talks since Bombing of Embassy

Article excerpt

The Pentagon's top China expert and a two-star general from the U.S. Pacific Command will travel to China this week for the first military-to-military talks since ties were cut after NATO's bombing of a Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, defense officials said yesterday.

Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, will lead a small delegation of U.S. officials that includes Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Hagee, the Pacific Command's policy and planning director.

"We've had almost no contact in a year," said one defense official. "This is just an attempt to get a temperature reading from them about what to expect."

Mr. Campbell will meet with the No. 2 general in the People's Liberation Army, the officials said.

The official said that even though China may join the World Trade Organization, military relations between the United States and China will remain aloof.

"There are still negative, lingering feelings associated with the embassy bombing and other aspects of U.S. strategy, including theater missile defense, Taiwan, national missile defense and U.S.-Japan relations," the official said.

The delegation will leave for China on Thursday and hold talks through this weekend, the officials said.

The visit will be the first exchange since May, when a delegation of People's Liberation Army officers visited the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and the Combat Readiness Air Traffic Control courses at Luke Air Force Base, N.M.

Pentagon officials said the U.S. visit could open the way for a visit to China in January by Adm. Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific.

That visit may be followed by a visit to China by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen.

China may send PLA Gen. Xiong Guangkai, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence and Beijing's key liaison with foreign militaries, to the United States. …