News / Asia

US Pacific Commander Sees Challenges in Chinese Military, North Korea

David Dyar

The top U.S. commander for Asia and the Pacific, Navy Admiral Robert Willard, says a growing and assertive Chinese military presents a challenge for the United States and its regional partners. Willard heads U.S. Pacific Command. He briefed reporters this week on security challenges in the Pacific region, which he says include an unstable government in North Korea.

Admiral Willard says Chinese military expansion has been dramatic, especially during the past decade, and that the United States wants to engage Chinese military officials in areas of joint interest. "My charter is to enhance the military relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and to the extent that we can, to see the People's Liberation Army service components enter into the region as a constructive partner.  We are having limited success in military engagement with the Chinese. "
China suspended military-to-military exchanges with the United States early this year in response to an announcement in January of a $6.4 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates defended the sale at a security conference in Singapore last month.  He noted the recent buildup of Chinese cruise and ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, and said the military sale is in accordance with U.S. law and serves to keep the peace in the region.  Gates said the United States does not support independence for Taiwan, which China views as a renegade territory.  A senior Chinese general at the conference, however, blamed the United States for the chill in military relations.  

In San Diego, Admiral Willard contrasted what he called the sophistication and maturity of the dialogue with China's civilian leadership to the reluctance of the country's military to engage in exchanges.  Willard notes that China has separate lines of authority for its military command and civilian government, although the lines meet at the top in the person of President Hu Jintao, who heads both the military and civilian branches.  Still, Willard says, the branches are largely separate.

"And to the extent that there are two Chinas that we're viewing, the People's Liberation Army on one side and the very sophisticated civilian side among their ministries, then it should be a concern, I believe, inside China, but also a concern for the region and for the United States with regard to that apparatus and how effective it will be, given the growth in military capability and capacity that we have witnessed over these past years."

Willard says U.S. and Chinese officials agree on the importance of cooperation in areas such as disaster response, countering piracy and peacekeeping.  He notes that China was involved in relief efforts in Haiti and has plans for humanitarian work in the Pacific, work that the U.S. military also engages in.  He says expanded military-to-military exchanges would benefit both sides and could lead to productive discussions over disagreements.

Willard says U.S. officials are monitoring recent confrontations between Chinese authorities and foreign vessels in the East and South China Seas, where he says the Chinese military has become increasingly assertive in enforcing China's claims to disputed territories such as Paracel, Spratly and Senkaku Islands.

With regard to the Korean Penninsula, Willard says the United States is finalizing plans for military exercises with South Korea, following the sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March.  The ship is widely believed to have been struck by a North Korean torpedo, although Pyongyang denies any role in the sinking.  

Willard says U.S. officials assume that little happens in North Korea without approval of the government, and that they believe the attack was an effort by North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il to assert his authority.  Willard notes that Mr. Kim is believed to be in poor health and that he has named a son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor.  "Succession tends to bring provocations with it as they attempt to shore up, in this case, his son's reputation and authority over the military and the North Korean regime," he said.

The American commander says U.S. officials are working with their Asian counterparts on other security issues, including transnational terrorism.  He says that is also an area in which China and the United States share a common interest.  

There might be hints of a possible thaw in military relations between the two countries.  The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that a senior Chinese military official says Defense Secretary Gates is welcome to visit China at what the official termed "an appropriate time."

U.S. officials say Gates had hoped to visit Beijing when he was in Asia in June, but Chinese officials withdrew their invitation in response to the Taiwan arms sale.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid