U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart on Monday called for greater cooperation between the two countries’ militaries, but their talks fell short of any concrete plans to formalize ties that were broken off by Beijing last year.
China agreed to set up working groups with the U.S. on key issues such as nuclear policy and missile defense without any definite schedule. But those groups would be limited only to exploring the possibility of a future “strategic dialogue” and wouldn’t actually discuss the issues themselves.
A meeting between Gates and Vice President Xi Jinping, next in line to be China’s president, produced a wooden statement by Xi that noted that the U.S.-China military is a “sensitive field.”
The ambiguity of Beijing’s position suggested that military relations with China remain estranged a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit Washington.