Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) returned this week from leading a Congressional delegation to China and Guam. The delegation included Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).
The members’ purpose in China was to examine more closely the Chinese military and its installations and to continue a dialogue with Chinese officials and military leaders. Skelton also paid tribute to the shared sacrifice of Chinese and American World War II veterans at the memorial in Kunming, China to the fliers of the Hump Route from India which supplied the war effort in China, including the famous Flying Tigers, when the land supply route from Burma was disrupted.
Skelton was given extraordinary access to the Chinese military. The delegation was the first group from Congress, and only the second group of American officials, to visit China’s Second Artillery division which controls both China’s nuclear and conventional missile force. The group also toured the Luhu class destroyer, Ha Er Bin, visited with China’s Academy of Military Sciences and met with a range of senior Chinese officials including Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Skelton’s discussions focused on the current tension across the Taiwan Strait and on the modernization of China’s military.
Reflecting on the trip, Skelton said, “This visit was a significant step forward in the dialogue between these two nations on military issues. We encouraged continued transparency in China’s military affairs and more military-to-military exchanges as a way of building greater mutual understanding and trust between the two nations. This is a dangerous time in relations between China and Taiwan; we urge restraint and peaceful resolution of conflicts in the maintenance of the one-China policy.”
The delegation also discussed a broad range of other subjects including trade, product safety, and religious freedom and attended a Christian church service in Beijing.
Additionally, Skelton and the delegation visited Guam to assess the planned military build-up that will bring 8,000 Marines and additional personnel and families to Guam from Japan. During the stop, Skelton spoke at the Guam Industry Forum before 800 members of the business community and local leaders addressing the build-up.
In responding to the range of local concerns about the build-up, Skelton told the participants that Guam “will be the tip of the national security spear for our country here in the Pacific."