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WSJ: Stealth Jet Upstages Gates, Hu

2011/01/12

BEIJING—China conducted the first test flight of its stealth fighter just hours before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with President Hu Jintao here to mend frayed relations, undermining the meeting and prompting questions over whether China’s civilian leadership is fully in control of the increasingly powerful armed forces.

U.S. officials said President Hu appeared not to have heard of the test flight when Mr. Gates asked him about it in their meeting Tuesday, even after pictures and accounts of it had begun appearing online.

The moment had the potential for huge embarrassment for China’s top leader—who in theory controls the military as chairman of the Central Military Commission—just as Chinese officials anxiously try to clear a smooth path for Mr. Hu’s state visit to Washington next week.

Hu appeared not to have heard of the test flight… in a country where face is power?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/01/12 14:04

    How can relations not be “frayed” between a nation that is supposed to represent liberty, and a nation dedicated to the proposition that the state is the preeminent authority on – everything?

    There can be no good relations with China. When we think we have them, that just means that they are busily pursuing Sun Tzu’s instruction to wage war without it being known. Economically, geopolitically, culturally – they have been at war with us since 1952. We’re just too dense to realize it.

  2. 2011/01/12 18:08

    I agree with Steven’s comment. How often does a U.S. Secretary of Defense meet with state heads. I would think that inappropriate. The man tasked with keeping our armies in a state of ever ready defense mode – what would he talk about with the head of a communist country? Maybe it happens routinely???

    I can see him meeting with defense counterparts, but the president?

  3. 2011/01/12 18:28

    Steven, thanks. I recall Bush’s test when one of our navy surveillance aircraft was damaged: a sample of jock bullying by the “locals.” This may be somewhat along the same lines – a show of defiance or aloofness by the Mil Staff? Case of poor internal communications? What is it?

    Maggie, that question may be the key: How much you want to bet that the Mil Staff were held back with meeting directly with Gates because the visit was indeed to ask about the nature of Civ-Mil relations. If Hu tried to pull rank and say “I’m in control here”, then the Mil pulled a stunt to say “Yes SIR!”

    Heh – never ascribe to deliberate malice what can be explained by ignorance or petty emotion?

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