Hu Jintao is in Washington, DC yesterday and today, meeting with President Bush and others in the federal government as part of his first trip to DC. In his remarks at lunch on Thursday, Hu made passing mention of the importance of several homeland security-related issues to the US-China agenda:
President Bush and I also agreed that the two countries need to better increase their exchanges and cooperation in the military, law enforcement, science and technology, culture, education, and other fields. We also both agreed to further step up our dialogue and cooperation in such fields as counterterrorism, nonproliferation, the prevention and control of the avian influenza, energy, environmental protection, disaster prevention and relief, and other major issues.
These comments follow on Sec. Chertoff’s visit to Beijing in late March, where similar issues were discussed, along with port security and the repatriation of Chinese nationals illegally in the United States.
These types of bilateral agreements are relatively shallow today, but I think they will be critical over time for building a global network of homeland security among nations.
The specific interests of the United States and China are quite different today as far as terrorism is concerned. The United States is focused on al-Qaeda and similar global threats, whereas China’s primary focus has been on Uighur separatist groups in Xinjiang.
But in spite of these differences, cooperation is important. The two economies and the citizens of both countries are intrinsically linked. This creates demands for shared solutions in areas like cargo security, immigration, and aviation security, given the reality than an attack in one country could severely harm the economic performance of the other. Over time, so long as the relationship remains generally amicable (obviously not a given), I think we’ll see deepening cooperation between the US and China on homeland security.