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Septmber 12-22, 2005

China Institute for International Strategic Studies Delegation Visit

The China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) conducts research and advises the Chinese government on a variety of global strategic, security, political, and economic issues. From 12 to 18 September 2005 a delegation from this Institute made an official reciprocal visit to the United States. The five-person delegation was headed by Major General (Ret.) Gong Xianfu, former Defense Attache at the Chinese Embassy in Washington and now Deputy Chairman of the CIISS. He was accompanied by retired Major Generals Lu Guangye, Luo Peisen, Yan Kunsheng, and Dr. Chen Wei, a CIISS research fellow.

The delegation spent the first six days in Washington where its members participated in a variety of meetings and other activities. Major events included a full-day seminar on Asian security affairs with the China Studies Center of the CNA Coproration and a second seminar at the U.S. National Defense University. In addition, the delegation made courtesy calls at the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense.

After spending a fairly intense week under the auspicis of the Center of Naval Analysis and the guidance of David Finklestein, from September 18th through the 22nd the responsibility for the CIISS delegation was passed on to the U.S.-China Policy Foundation for visits to Philadelphia, Princeton, and New York, where professional functions were interspersed with sightseeing and related activities.

A luncheon meeting at Princeton was arranged by Professor Thomas Christensen, Director of the Princeton China and the World Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Approximately thirty invited guests consisted of professors as well as graduate and undergraduate students. The first morning in New York was taken by a three-hour breakfast meeting at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. It was arranged and hosted by Professor Donald Zagoria and attended by several executive members of the organization and prominent China scholars from local universities and institutions. On their last day in New York City, this delegation of distinguished military officers and scholars were invited by Dr. Henry Kissinger to his club for a luncheon an exchange of views. They also had an opportunity to have dinner hosted by the Chinese Mission to the United Nation, followed by a visit to their offices for discussions with their military colleagues.

Because all the American participants were deeply involved in the various issues relevant to U.S.-China relations, the Q&A sessions that followed brief presentations were lively and informative. The basic conclusions are not likely to surprise anyone. There was general agreement that a rapidly emerging China will continue to be an increasingly able competitor for the United States. Clearly, there will be numerous differences between the two countries, but because a stable relationship is in the interest of both sides, it is incumbent on both Washington and Beijing to make sure that contentious issues do not balloon into serious confrontations—often through misunderstandings. To prevent this from happening it is important to maintain and expand regular contacts in all fields, but especially increase cooperation through more frequent informal meetings between the two military establishments—contacts that are now limited by congressional action. In a nutshell, there seemed to be concurrence that it will take considerable (but manageable) effort on both the Chinese and American sides to achieve a relationship based on constructive cooperation.

Members of the CIISS delegation also had an opportunity to experience a lighter side of the United States. At their request, a visit to Philadelphia consisted of a historic tour, arranged by Woody Goldberg, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. This informative and enjoyable tour was followed by a splendid dinner attended by a number of local guests with an interest in China and hosted by Woody and his wife Susan. In New York, there was a scenic and enlightening visit to West Point to view Academy, its museum, and cadets marching to band music on their way to lunch; tickets to a Broadway musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” followed by a walk on Times Square with its lights and crowds; and a view of many major sights aboard a boat that circled Manhattan.

To take their comments at face value—and there is no reason not to—it would seem that the members of this rather unique delegation had a productive and interesting visit to the United States.

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