News / Asia

Stark Differences Evident as US Pushes for Closer Military Ties With China

Stark Differences Evident as US Pushes for Closer Military Ties With Chinai
Jeff Seldin
May 16, 2014 1:24 AM
One of China's top military leaders visited the Pentagon Thursday for meetings with his U.S. counterpart, a year after the two met in Beijing. It was the latest stop on a tour that began with visits to U.S. battleships in California. And as VOA's Jeff Seldin reports, the high-level visit comes as there are growing concerns about Beijing's activities in the South China Sea.
One of China's top military leaders visited the Pentagon Thursday for meetings with his U.S. counterpart, a year after the two met in Beijing. It was the latest stop on a tour that began with visits to U.S. battleships in California. The high-level visit comes as there are growing concerns about Beijing's activities in the South China Sea.
A full honors cordon - band playing, handshakes and salutes - as General Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army arrived at the Pentagon.
It’s a visit that comes at a critical time as China’s decision to place an oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea turned deadly this week with protests in Vietnam.
General Fang defended China's drilling, giving no indication China intends to back down. “Vietnam has dispatched vessels and ships for disruptions of that activity. And that is something we are not able to accept.”
Fang also placed blame on countries like the Philippines, Manila protesting China’s attempt to build an airstrip on a disputed reef.
“We do not make trouble. We do not create trouble. But we are not afraid of trouble," he said. "For the territory that has [been] passed down by our ancestors into the hands of our generation, we cannot afford to lose [an] inch.”
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, was equally blunt. “We had a rich discussion of the status quo and who has been seeking to change it. We spoke about the fact that the use of military assets is provocative and it does increase risks,” he said.
Heightening tensions - Washington’s Asia pivot, something Chinese officials contend has emboldened some countries to start trouble.

Still, analysts contend it is dangerous to underestimate what China is doing.

James Hardy with IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, said via Skype, "Traditionally China’s had kind of a long, strategic view of how it’s going to improve its position within Asia, whether that’s East Asia looking out toward Japan or Southeast Asia looking out toward the South China Sea.”

General Fang’s visit is part of a larger tour aimed at emphasizing cooperation. It included visits to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan and an appearance at the National Defense University.

U.S. officials hope the more the two militaries talk, the easier it will be to avoid misunderstandings...and the more progress they can make on issues that concern both nations, like a nuclear North Korea.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: Alan from: USA
May 16, 2014 1:47 PM
"You cannot go around and redefine boundaries, violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation", US Defense Secretary Hagel said.

"We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.", President Obama said.

Vietnam (Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia) should joint the Philippines to bring China to the UN, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. The free world would support such peaceful resolution.

by: Frank Chung from: Los Angeles,CA
May 16, 2014 7:33 AM
Such dialogue and exchange of visitation by top military leaders of both China and US may be helpful to defuse escalating tensions in the East and South China seas;at lease such frank and plain discussion can certainly avoid miscalculation or undesirable accidents which could quickly escalate to a full scale conflict.Neither side would like to see such confrontation.However, we must be vigilant to watch rising China will flex its military muscles and insist to be more transparent of annual national defense budget increase which have unnerve its smaller regional powers and make them feel uneasy and unsafe.As a rising major power,China must be held accountable for regional security and peace,not to create more unwanted tension and hostility. And US must maintain powerful presence to counterbalance rising China's influence in the region.More importantly to meet the challenge coming out of China with equal forces and determination to deter any aggression. US is the only superpower with capability to maintain peace and security in these trouble waters.

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