Tuesday, July 12, 2011

China offers rare glimpse of military HQ

When it comes to China's military relationship with the United States, U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen is not one to mince his words.

"We don't have a relationship, it was stopped," the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says after climbing down from one of China's high-tech combat planes during a rare visit to the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army in Shandong province.

But he stresses the two countries better build one, and high level contact like this, he hopes, will create closer ties that will benefit not just the region, but the world.

During his visit, Mullen, a former Navy jet pilot, watched an aerial display by two Russian-designed SU-27 fighter jets -- considered a match for any other combat aircraft.

It was a carefully orchestrated display by China's military bosses, designed to impress.

As would be expected from a trip behind the normally closed doors of a PLA military base, everything about this trip has been scripted.

But for the international media, including CNN, this is rare access indeed, even if our every move is scrutinized.

Mullen remains largely off-limits except for one moment when I am able to throw a couple of questions. He answers fully and willingly, but within minutes he is ushered away.

Mullen says China is not a rising military power -- it has already risen. He says that military might carries great responsibilities and the need for more openness. (read more)