Pure Coincidence

Chinese President Hu Jintao assured Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday that news of the Chinese J-20 stealth aircraft making its first flight coming on the same day that Gates and Hu met in Beijing was purely coincidental and not planned. “I asked President Hu about it directly. And he said that the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a pre-planned test. And that’s where we left it,” Gates told reporters after his meeting with Hu on the second of Gates’ three-day official China visit. Asked if he believed Hu’s explanation, Gates said, “yes.” He added, “I take President Hu at his word that the test had nothing to do with my visit.” Asked if the timing of the J-20 flight was appropriate—since some might perceive it as in-your-face muscle flexing—Gates said, “that’s why I asked President Hu about that.” (Gates transcript) (See also our initial coverage of the J-20 flight and Los Angeles Times report)