China invited US defence secretary Robert Gates inside its nuclear warfare headquarters on Wednesday, giving him a rare glimpse into control of weapons that could one day be launched at the United States.
Both the US and China have long-range missiles that could reach the other’s shores. Both nations say they have no intention of using the weapons that way. “There was a discussion of nuclear strategy and their overall approach to conflict,” including China’s policy of not using nuclear weapons pre-emptively, Gates told reporters afterward.
“It was a pretty wide-ranging conversation, pretty open,” Gates said. He spoke atop China’s Great Wall, where he paid a brief tourist visit before leaving the country.
Gates’ assignment during four days in China was to patch up damaged ties between the two militaries. He claimed success on Wednesday, saying military leaders he met support broader engagement.
Gates said that during the base visit China’s commander of nuclear rocket forces, Gen. Jing Zhiyuan, accepted an invitation to visit US Strategic Command headquarters in Nebraska. Gates’ four-day trip to China was dominated by the effort to repair strained military ties ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington next week.