News / Asia

Panetta Gets Rare Tour of Chinese Naval Base

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L) meets with the Commander of the North Sea Fleet Vice Adm. Tian Zhong (R) in Qingdao, China before touring Chinese naval vessels, September 20, 2012.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L) meets with the Commander of the North Sea Fleet Vice Adm. Tian Zhong (R) in Qingdao, China before touring Chinese naval vessels, September 20, 2012.
VOA News
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was allowed a rare look inside a Chinese naval base on Thursday, as he finished up his three-day visit to China.

Panetta toured a Chinese warship and a submarine at the headquarters of the Chinese navy's North Sea Fleet in the eastern city of Qinqdao. He is the first Pentagon chief to visit the facility.

A senior U.S. defense official said Panetta also met with the fleet's commander, Vice Admiral Tian Zhong. He said the two discussed the importance of each country's navy and noted Washington's invitation for China to join a major maritime exercise in 2014.

But most of Panetta's tour of the sensitive naval base was off limits to journalists, who were instead sent on a tour of a local brewery.

Washington has repeatedly accused Beijing of not being transparent about its rapidly expanding military, which boasts 2.3 million members. But Panetta's trip has largely focused on improving military ties with China.

On Tuesday, Panetta told a group of Chinese cadets at a military academy that Washington's new military focus on Asia should not be viewed as an attempt to contain China, but to promote regional stability.

Many in China suspect that the Obama administration's shift toward Asia is aimed at curbing the power of the emerging world power. The so-called "pivot" includes plans to transfer Marines to Australia and shift 60 percent of U.S. naval forces to the Pacific by 2020.

Panetta is wrapping up his week-long Asian tour that also included a stop in Japan, which is involved in a heated dispute with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Later, Panetta will head to New Zealand to meet with the country's defense minister.

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Comment Sorting
by: Peter from: DC
September 20, 2012 11:39 AM
We are wondering whether the purpose of U.S. Defense Secretary's trip to China and Japan was both to support Japan and to threaten China over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

by: Ian from: USA
September 20, 2012 10:03 AM
What the defense secretary wasn't invited to see is more important then what was shown to him .
By the way in modern time, a satellite can give you more information than what anybody can show you .
The weapons are not important, the communistic ideology remnant remains in the psyche of China leadership party members with hidden agenda to bring down USA (or other countries in the capitalist system) in the future is much more harmful .
In Response

by: zzj from: China
September 20, 2012 11:08 AM
Why do American people always think the development of China is harmful?As you can see,China has been limited by so many American navy base in the Pacific Ocean .Though China is a communistic country,has different views in international affairs,it is obviously important to forge a peaceful relationship between China and USA.The United States of America often intervene in China 's internal affairs, obstructing the reunification of China, actually develop a hostility. How could this saying is China threatening American?

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