China Quake Prompts Hotline Call from US
May 29, 2008Military.comby Colin Clark
The hotline connecting the Pentagon and China's Peoples Liberation Army got a one-hour workout when the top American commander in the Pacific used it to discuss how to speed relief supplies to China after its massive May 12 earthquake.
Adm. Timothy Keating, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters May 28 at the Pentagon that he spoke with a Lt. Gen. Ma -- believed to be Lt. Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the PLA's general staff -- during the call. Keating said "it was very easy to set up the connection" for the call, noting that the hotline has only existed for a short time.
U.S. officials have pushed for establishment of a hotline between the two countries for several years, arguing it would demonstrate Chinese commitment to transparency about intentions and military capabilities required of a responsible major power.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Liang Guanglie used it for the first time on April 10 when they inaugurated the service. In an interesting turn of phrase, Keating noted that the Chinese "were quite willing to accept [his] phone call," seeming to imply that there have been times when the Chinese refused to use the link.