United States gets sounding out despite iterated their presence and projection of power in East Asia and South East Asia is the Yankees’ interpretation of ‘Re-Balance of Power’, amidst China’s expansionary mode, arrogance and attitude playing the role of ‘neigbourhood bully’ and protagonist.
The Wall Street Journal story:
U.S., China Defense Chiefs Trade Barbs Over Regional Ambitions
Chang Wanquan Tells Chuck Hagel: China ‘Can Never Be Contained’
By DION NISSENBAUM CONNECT
Updated April 8, 2014 1:26 p.m. ET
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, left, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday. Reuters
BEIJING—Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s call for a new model in relations with Beijing’s military swiftly ran into headwinds Tuesday as China’s defense minister castigated the U.S. and its allies for raising tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
Standing side-by-side during Mr. Hagel’s first official trip to Beijing since he became defense secretary a year ago, the two men traded pointed jabs over the geopolitical ambitions of both nations in the region.
Over the course of an hour, Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan criticized Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and the U.S. for various measures he said undercut stability.
And he pushed back against America’s plans to shift more military resources to the region—a move widely seen in Beijing as an attempt to contain China’s expansionist aims.
China “can never be contained,” Gen. Chang told reporters during a one-hour news conference at the defense ministry with Mr. Hagel standing by his side.
Gen. Chang castigated Japan for stirring up trouble in the East China Sea over who should control a group of disputed islands there and accused the Philippines of illegally occupying other islands in the South China Sea. He blasted U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and urged America to take a more measured approach to regional disputes.
In turn, Mr. Hagel criticized China for unilaterally establishing an air-defense zone over the East China Sea islands without conferring with its competitors in the region.
“That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to and eventually get to a dangerous conflict,” said Mr. Hagel, who wagged his finger as he emphasized his concerns.
The sharp exchanges came as Mr. Hagel worked to promote a “new model” of military cooperation and transparency during his three-day visit to China.
The divide re-emerged later in the day when Mr. Hagel trumpeted the new chapter in military relations in a speech to 150 Chinese military officers. Mr. Hagel diverged from his prepared remarks several times to cut the most pointed barbs at China and argued that “great powers must resolve their disputes peacefully.”
Chinese officers questioning Mr. Hagel accused the U.S. of stoking tensions in the region by backing China’s rivals and trying to curb the country’s influence.
“The American rebalance to Asia-Pacific is not to contain China,” Mr. Hagel said in response to one skeptical officer.
Despite the friction, neither government said it viewed the encounter as a sign of hostility or deterioration in relations.
As if to underscore that, both men salted their comments with words of conciliation. Gen. Chang said the Pacific was big enough to hold the ambitions of both China and the U.S. And Mr. Hagel praised China as essential to the stability in the region.
Defense officials said they had expected the sharp questions from the Chinese defense minister and the students at the military school.
“I certainly didn’t sense hostility.” said Col. Steve Warren, the Pentagon spokesman, who reviewed the transcripts. “It was a good dialogue.”
Gen. Chang’s comments were unusually direct for a Chinese official hosting a foreign counterpart and were likely directed primarily at China’s domestic audience.
Still, Mr. Hagel’s visit still represents progress of sorts given the volatile history of China-U.S. military relations. When then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited in 2011, his visit was emphatically overshadowed by the first test flight of China’s prototype stealth fighter—just a few hours before he met then-President Hu Jintao.
U.S. officials noted that the Chinese military also demonstrated openness by granting Mr. Hagel a rare tour of its lone aircraft carrier.
Military ties between the two countries will become increasingly important as the U.S. presses ahead with attempts to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific by shifting more ships, planes and military personnel to the region.
The U.S. and China agreed on moderate measures to reduce military tensions over relations with North Korea and disputes over who should control the region’s seas.
It remains to be seen how deep the military ties will go. Tuesday’s measures mainly create new channels for dialogue between the two and lay out plans for a humanitarian-aid exercise when details can be worked out.
“Moderate steps are still steps in the right direction, so these are good steps,” said one U.S. defense official.
The relationship has been tested in recent months by accusations between the two countries over cyberattacks, China’s claims to vast expanses of the South China Sea and a territorial standoff with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Last fall, the U.S. military directly challenged China’s unilateral declaration of an air-defense identification zone over the East China Sea islands by flying two B-52 bombers through the area.
China’s move has raised concerns among the U.S. and its Asian allies that Beijing would try to expand its influence by declaring a similar zone over the South China Sea.
But Washington’s plans to increase its influence in Asia are likely to be tempered by a tightening U.S. defense budget and China’s increasing military spending.
The Pentagon’s push for a new military model is part of America’s broader campaign to build a new relationship with China following the formal appointment last year of Xi Jinping as China’s president.
Mr. Xi met with President Barack Obama in June at a private estate in southern California to discuss major issues of contention. Last month, Michelle Obama and her two daughters visited Beijing.
—Carlos Tejada, Jeremy Page and Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.
More of China’s Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan gives US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel an earful as the latter made his first official visit to the largest communist country after appointed to the cabinet post over-sighting the largest free-world and most modern armed forces.
U.S. defense chief gets earful as China visit exposes tensions
BY PHIL STEWART
BEIJING Tue Apr 8, 2014 2:15pm EDT
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan participate in a joint news conference at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing April 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEX WONG/POOL
(Reuters) – Tensions between China and the United States were on full display on Tuesday as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faced questions in Beijing about America’s position in bitter territorial disputes with regional U.S. allies.
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, standing side-by-side with Hagel, called on the United States to restrain ally Japan and chided another U.S. ally, the Philippines.
Then, Hagel was sharply questioned by Chinese officers at the National Defense University. One of them told Hagel he was concerned that the United States was stirring up trouble in the East and South China Sea because it feared someday “China will be too big a challenge for the United States to cope with.”
“Therefore you are using such issues … to make trouble to hamper (China’s) development,” the officer said.
Hagel assured the audience that America had no interest in trying to “contain China” and that it took no position in such disputes. But he also cautioned repeatedly during the day that the United States would stand by its allies.
“We have mutual self defense treaties with each of those two countries,” Hagel said, referring to Japan and the Philippines. “And we are fully committed to those treaty obligations.”
The questioning came just a day after Hagel toured China’s sole aircraft carrier, in a rare opening by Beijing to a potent symbol of its military ambitions. Chinese Defense Minister Chang called Hagel, the top civilian at the Pentagon, the first foreign military official to be allowed on board the Liaoning.
Chang and Hagel spoke positively about improving military ties and announced steps to deepen them. But the effort could do little to mask long-standing tension over a range of issues, from cyber spying and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to China’s military buildup itself.
At a seminar in New York, China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said Washington needed to think hard about the purpose of its military presence in Asia and whether its political agenda and those of its Asian allies were the same.
He spoke of the need to move away from “outdated alliances” and warned against any attempt to create an Asian version of the NATO Western military alliance to contain China.
“If your mission there is to contain some other country, then you are back in the Cold War again, maybe,” he said. If your intention is to establish an Asian NATO, then we are back in the Cold War-era again. This is something that will serve nobody’s interest, it’s quite clear.”
Beyond developing an aircraft carrier program, China’s People’s Liberation Army is building submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles, and has tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.
“RISK OF MISCALCULATION”
That expansion carries risks as Chinese forces come into greater contact with U.S. forces the Pacific, Hagel said.
“As the PLA modernizes its capabilities and expands its presence in Asia and beyond, American and Chinese forces will be drawn into closer proximity – which increases the risk of an incident, an accident, or a miscalculation,” Hagel said in a speech at the National Defense University.
“But this reality also presents new opportunities for cooperation.”
The risks of a mishap were highlighted in December when the American guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a Chinese warship operating in support of the Liaoning.
China’s military modernization has also been accompanied by a more assertive posture in its territorial disputes.
China claims 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) South China Sea, where the Philippines, along with other countries, stake claims. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea over uninhabited islets that are administered by Japan.
Chang asked the United States to “keep (Japan) within bounds and not to be permissive and supportive”, and railed against the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who Hagel met in Tokyo last weekend.
“It is Japan who is being provocative against China,” Chang told a news conference after talks with Hagel.
“If you come to the conclusion that China is going to resort to force against Japan, that is wrong … we will not take the initiative to stir up troubles.”
Chang called the Philippines a nation “disguising itself as a victim” and renewed its opposition to Manila’s pursuit of international arbitration in its territorial dispute.
Hagel, who met the defense minister from the Philippines last week, said he raised U.S. concerns in Beijing over the tension in the South and East China Sea.
He cautioned that no countries should resort to “intimidation, coercion, or aggression to advance their claims.”
The U.S. State Department has accused China’s coastguard of harassment of Philippine vessels and called an attempt to block a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed atoll, provocative and destabilizing.
Also speaking at the New York seminar, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who led the U.S. effort to engage with Communist China in the 1970s, compared the rivalries in Asia, particularly between China and Japan, and the latent threat of the use of force, to 19th Century Europe.
“I would give both of them the same advice – to be extremely restrained and not to permit that situation to develop into a military confrontation,” he said, referring to the leaders of Japan and China.
“We as Americans, being allied with Japan, but in partnership of some kind with China; we should not be put in a position to chose. We should make clear to both sides that we will be sympathetic and helpful, but we are strongly opposed to a military confrontation, which really would have huge consequences in the region.”
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and Grant McCool)
China’s progressively threatening maneuvres getting systematically more aggressive since 2008. These projections of power and force, deemed to be ‘unfriendly’ gestures especially in areas believed to have rich hydro-carbon deposits all over South China Sea and East China Sea.
These projection of force maneuvres guised as “Training exercise” within the imaginary and unsubstantiated claim of ‘Nine-Dash-Line’, China also instilled fear to fishermen.
China which is a signatory of United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) since 1982 and Declaration of Code of Conduct (DOC) with ASEAN nations on 4 November 2002, is expected to honour her commitments to resolve issues in the South China Sea by consultations, negotiations and diplomatic dialogues.
However China is not interested to hold multilateral diplomatic dialogues but instead demanded that each of the ASEAN countries do separate bilateral dialogues to resolve border and territorial disputes.
It is very clear that China intends to arm-twist her way around during these mutually exclusive bilateral dialogues and push of joint development programs and terms for areas with rich hybdro-carbon deposits which is beneficial to her. This cannot be achieved if the resolution is obtained through multilateral diplomatic dialogues.
China is also in stern opposition of the Philippines’s decision to go to United Nations International Court of Justice at the Hague, to seek resolution for areas such as Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal.
The Philippines is in no position to oppose China’s projection of force with her own military assets and capabilities.
In reciprocity, United States pronounces her commitment to stand by the Philippines in this stand of, which translated of the mobilisation of military might. This is a commitment made by the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the annual Singapore international military and geo-political forum, Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2012.
China’s neighbours particularly South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia can’t help it but the presence of the United States projection of power and force provide some degree of sanity and better predictability to an aggressive People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of over 3 million active personnel.
PLA is independent from China’s administration as it is under the China Central Military Commission (CMC), which answers directly to the communist party politburo.
Defense Secretary Hagel’s visit to China today is an initial step of ‘repositioning’ United States role and commitment to reduce or escalate the ‘Panda Stand Off’ which China. It interesting to watch the development from President Barack H. Obama’s tour of South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines in slightly over two weeks time.
Three days ago Defense Secretary Hagel reassured Japan of the US military commitment. More over in the escalation of China’s expansionary behaviour and arrogant attitude. Otherwise, there is no reason “To contain China”.