In China, even General Dempsey doesn’t update Facebook

Everyone knows that China blocks Internet access to Facebook, but even, it seems, for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey

Dempsey's Facebook status, which usually actively shares the chairman's daily public appearances, has not updated since Sunday, when he was still in Seoul, South Korea.

Dempsey is in the middle of a rare visit to China, but judging from his Facebook page and most mainstream news outlets, you probably wouldn't know it.

Dempsey's visit has been virtually ignored by Western media and barely covered even by the national security press, which in the past two weeks has shifted its blanket attention from North Korea to Boston. But in the past two days, Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, has met with China's President Xi Jingping, defense chief Gen. Fang Fenghui, and Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanguan.

True, the chairman rarely travels with press, and this trip was no exception. For his trip to Beijing, the Christian Science Monitor's Anna Mulrine was the lucky Pentagon reporter given a seat on his plane to cover "the highest-level military talks between the two superpowers in two years."

Mulrine is practically the only westerner filing copy about Dempsey's visit. ABC News's Bob Woodruff is also on board and tweeting nice pictures along the way through Alaska and Seoul to Tiananmen Square, here. The New York Times's Beijing correspondent Jane Perlez also covered Dempsey's first day, here.

On Monday, Dempsey and Feng met behind closed doors and emerged to declare their shared fears about cyber attacks, the destructive value of which Feng said could be "as serious a nuclear bomb," Mulrine reported.

Dempsey and Fang later held a press conference in which a Chinese journalist asked why U.S. military exercises are conducted so close to China. Dempsey replied that the concern is at "the core" of why he came to Beijing - alluding to the Pentagon's mission to avoid any military misunderstandings.

So far, there has not been much news to report. Dempsey said the United States had treaty obligations to maintain -- a reference to Taiwan -- while Fang said, "The Pacific Ocean is wide enough to accommodate us both."

Dempsey has two more days of meetings in China, including with Chinese soldiers.

UPDATE: Dempsey's spokesman emailed the E-Ring from China saying that they plan to post one big Facebook status update on China after their visit, instead of daily updates.

When asked if that was a cybersecurity decision, Col. David Lapan replied, "Not at all."

 

Photo by Andy Wong - Pool/Getty Images

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