BEIJING -- The expanding reach of China's nuclear missiles is worrisome to the United States, which would like Chinese officials to be more open about their intentions, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.
In a speech to the Academy of Military Sciences, Rumsfeld said nuclear capability is an area in which the United States would like China to show more transparency.
''China . . . is expanding its missile forces and enabling those forces to reach many areas of the world well beyond the Pacific region," Rumsfeld said. ''Those advances in China's strategic strike capacity raise questions, particularly when there's an imperfect understanding of such developments on the part of others."
His statement echoed a theme he has pressed in his first visit to China since he became defense secretary in 2001 -- that China's secretiveness creates worries about its military intentions.
Yesterday, he told students and faculty members at the Central Party School that ''growth in China's power projection understandably leads other nations to question intentions and to adjust their behavior in some fashion."
In his speech today to the Academy of Military Sciences, Rumsfeld said countries with an interest in the region are questioning China's military intentions.
While it is up to China to decide what to say on the subject, ''greater clarity would generate more certainty in the region," Rumsfeld said. He said the United States is not opposed to China's efforts to improve the training and equipping of its military.
Yesterday, the commander of China's nuclear missile forces, General Jing Zhiyuan, reaffirmed to Rumsfeld that in an armed conflict China would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. He offered the assurance while hosting Rumsfeld, according to two US officials who took part.
Rumsfeld also met with his counterpart, General Cao Gangchuan, who said US-Chinese relations are strong.