Making a China Visit

The head of Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Howie Chandler, is “somewhat optimistic” about building transparency with the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. In a Sept. 17 interview during AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Chandler said he is making plans to cooperate in such areas as search and rescue exercises and to visit the country sometime next year. “I think the Chinese want to be a member of the world’s body of nations,” he said and added: “They are interested in participating in the war on terror. They are certainly interested in economic development.” Chandler credited the past 60 years of military-to-military exchanges with providing the security condition that enabled four of the world’s economic giants to blossom in the Pacific Basin. He believes it’s important to continue to work with the Chinese military to help build understanding and avoid “miscalculation.” He said recent Chinese visits to Hickam AFB, Hawaii and Alaska were successful, noting that he had received positive feedback from the Chinese, too. He expects between now and his 2009 trip to “continue to explore things like search and rescue exercises; that’s where we intend to start in terms of exercising.” Chandler said PACAF must do the necessary planning and secure final approval to begin the exercises, but the recent contacts mean, “We are progressing down the road in terms of our relationship.”