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Top US Admiral: Exchanges With China Conditional on Safety

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson (L) and Commander of the Chinese navy, Adm. Wu Shengli shake hands at Chinese Navy Headquarters in Beijing, July 18, 2016.

The top U.S. admiral says friendly exchanges with China's navy are conditional on safe and professional interactions at sea.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's comments Wednesday follow several fractious encounters between the two sides' ships and planes in and over the disputed South China Sea.

On a visit to the northern Chinese port of Qingdao, Richardson says he supports deepening the relationship between the two navies but that the sides need to judge each other by their actions, not just words.

Richardson met Monday in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Shengli, who took a hard line on China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. Richardson is on a five-day visit to improve mutual understanding and encourage professional interaction.