China is destabilising south-east Asia, US defence secretary says


The Chairman
Apr 17, 2009
China is destabilising south-east Asia, US defence secretary says

"¢ Chuck Hagel says US will not ignore from Beijing's actions
"¢ Chinese general says 'criticisms are groundless'
"¢ Washington pledges to support uneasy allies, including Japan

China's aggressive moves to claim jurisdiction over land and sky in the Asia-Pacific risk undermining peace and security in the region and beyond, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday. Beijing scoffed at the "groundless" charges.

Hagel told an international security conference that the US "will not look the other way" when China and others try to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea are destabilising the region, he said, adding that Beijing's failure to resolve such disputes threatens East Asia's long-term progress.

A Chinese general took issue with Hagel's comments, saying that "although I do think that those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor."

Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the general staff, told Hagel during a brief meeting after the defense secretary's speech: "You were very candid this morning and, to be frank, more than our expectation."

Reporters were taken from the meeting room before Hagel responded. But the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said Hagel told Wang all regional disputes should be solved through diplomacy, and encouraged China to foster dialogue with neighbouring nations.

As he did in 2013, Hagel used his appearance at the Shangri-La conference to single out China for cyberspying against the US. While this has been a persistent complaint, his remarks came less than two weeks after the Obama administration charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.

The Chinese, in response, suspended participation in a US-China Cyber Working Group, and released a report that said the US is conducting "unscrupulous" cyber-espionage and that China is a major target

Noting the suspension, Hagel said the US will continue to raise cyber issues with the Chinese, "because dialogue is essential for reducing the risk of miscalculation and escalation in cyberspace".

In comments aimed directly at China, Hagel said the US opposes any country's use of intimidation or threat of force to assert territorial claims.

"All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions of people around the world," he said.

China and Japan have been at odds over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are controlled by Japan but claimed by both.

The US has declined to take sides, but has made clear it has a treaty obligation to support Japan. The US also has refused to recognize China's declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including the disputed islands.

In response, Major General Yao Yunzhu of China's People's Liberation Army questioned whether the US and its allies followed international law and consulted with others whey they set up air defence zones.

Yao, director of the Center for China-America Defense Relations at the PLA's Academy of Military Science, also challenged how the US can say it is not taking a position on the island sovereignty issue, while still saying it is committed to its treaty obligation to support Japan.

Hagel said the US and allies consulted with its neighbours and, unlike China, did not unilaterally set up air defence zones.

While the two public exchanges with the Chinese officials were sharp, a senior US defence official described Hagel's private meeting with Wang as fairly amicable.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wang began by criticising the speech, but also talked about increasing military cooperation with the US and the two nations' trade relationship.

The official said Wang indicated China was looking forward to participating in a major military exercise in the Pacific with the US and other nations later this year.

US officials also have raised concerns about Beijing's decision to place an oil rig in part of the South China Sea also claimed by Vietnam. The move has led to a series of clashes between the two nations in the waters around the rig, including the recent sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat.

Chinese leaders have blamed the Obama administration's new focus on Asia for emboldening some of the disputes.

But some Asian leaders have expressed worries that the US is doing little more than paying lip service to the complaints, fueling doubts about America's commitment to the region.

China is destabilising south-east Asia, US defence secretary says | World news |

A good summation of Chinese hegemonic activities, but is the US serious in its pillow talk?

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