US urged to stop re­con

China calls US close sur­veil­lance by mil­i­tary un­nec­es­sary risk to ties

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

China has once again urged the US to re­duce and stop its close mil­i­tary sur­veil­lance along the Chi­nese coast as the two mil­i­taries are hold­ing bi­lat­eral talks in Wash­ing­ton this week.

Min­istry of De­fense spokesman Yang Yujun said on Thurs­day that the so-called “in­ter­cep­tion in­ci­dent” is in­valid since the na­ture of this in­ci­dent is the fre­quent and close-in re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties by the US air­craft against China.

“So I think it should be rightly called ‘US air­craft close-in re­con­nais­sance in­ci­dent’,” Yang told a press briefing in Bei­jing.

Pen­tagon spokesman John Kirby told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton on Aug 22 that the US side has reg­is­tered its strong con­cerns to the Chi­nese about the un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional in­ter­cept on Aug 19 con­ducted by an armed Chi­nese fighter jet against a US Navy P-8 Po­sei­don pa­trol air­craft in the South China Sea.

US of­fi­cials have de­lib­er­ately avoided dis­cussing whether its long-term and high-fre­quency close-in re­con­nais­sance mis­sions con­ducted by its mil­i­tary planes and ships near the Chi­nese coast are provoca­tive.

China has over the years called on the US to re­duce and stop such ac­tiv­i­ties and has re­garded them as a threat to China’s na­tional se­cu­rity.

Chi­nese mil­i­tary lead­ers have de­scribed the US re­con­nais­sance, along with US arms sales to Tai­wan and the US laws re­strict­ing mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with China, as three ma­jor ob­sta­cles in im­prov­ing bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tions.

Yang said China has ex­pressed its con­cerns to the US diplo­mat­i­cally through mul­ti­ple chan­nels. “Op­er­a­tionally, we have been strictly mon­i­tor­ing th­ese re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

The spokesman re­minded the US that the lo­ca­tion of the in­ci­dent is 220 km from China’s Hainan Is­land and not 220 km from Hawaii and cer­tainly not 220 km from Florida.

“The rights and wrongs of the case are very clear,” he said. Sev­eral Chi­nese mil­i­tary bases are lo­cated in Hainan Is­land, in­clud­ing its ad­vanced sub­ma­rine base.

Yang em­pha­sized that the US has been fo­cus­ing on tech­ni­cal is­sues such as the dis­tance dur­ing an en­counter, but has rather ig­nored the fact that the US has been main­tain­ing a high fre­quency of close-in re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties against China.

He de­scribed such ac­tiv­i­ties as “not only dam­ag­ing China’s se­cu­rity in­ter­est but also dam­ag­ing the strate­gic trust and bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship between China and the United States”.

Such ac­tiv­i­ties are the very root cause which could pos­si­bly lead to un­de­sir­able in­ci­dents, ac­cord­ing to Yang.

He called it con­tra­dic­tory that while the US ex­presses its will­ing­ness to deepen a mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship with China, it is re­luc­tant to give up its fre­quent clo­sein re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties against China.

“We be­lieve that the US side should step up to the strate­gic height of build­ing a new mode of ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship between China and the US and the new model of mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship and take con­crete steps to de­crease the close-in re­con­nais­sance ac­tiv­i­ties against China to­wards a com­plete stop, so that a fa­vor­able at­mos­phere for fur­ther de­vel­op­ing our mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship can be cre­ated and prop­erly main­tained,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Yang, when the PLA has con­ducted weapons tests, ex­er­cises and train­ing in re­lated airspace and mar­itime ar­eas in the past, the US side of­ten showed up with­out be­ing in­vited or even broke into China’s ex­er­cise or train­ing zones which had been an­nounced in ad­vance.

“Th­ese be­hav­iors of US mil­i­tary ships and air­craft could eas­ily cause mis­per­cep­tion and mis­cal­cu­la­tion or even air or sea ac­ci­dents,” Yang said.

Some Chi­nese ex­perts be­lieve that China should con­duct sim­i­lar kinds of re­con­nais­sance mis­sions along the US coast in or­der to demon­strate to the US how of­fen­sive such ac­tiv­i­ties can be.

“As to what mis­sions PLA ships and air­craft will take in the future, it will be de­cided based on var­i­ous fac­tors,” Yang said.

He said the Aug 25-29 meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton between mil­i­tary of­fi­cials of the two coun­tries are part of the mea­sures to im­ple­ment the con­sen­sus between Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama when they met in Sun­ny­lands, Cal­i­for­nia, in June last year. Talks will pri­mar­ily fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing the rules of be­hav­ior for air and sea mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties on the high seas.

Yang dis­missed US State Depart­ment spokes­woman Jen Paski’s com­ment that the US op­er­ated in a trans­par­ent man­ner. He said the US has never no­ti­fied China of its re­con­nais­sance mis­sions, and said even if a no­ti­fi­ca­tion was made, the na­ture of a wrong be­hav­ior would still not be changed.

Pres­i­dent Obama is ex­pected to visit China on Nov 12 af­ter at­tend­ing the APEC lead­ers’ sum­mit in Bei­jing for two days, when a host of bi­lat­eral is­sues, in­clud­ing the re­con­nais­sance along China’s coast, will come up.

Robert Wang, US Se­nior Of­fi­cial for APEC, told re­porters on Wed­nes­day that the US be­lieves the US side would pre­fer smaller meet­ings where is­sues can be dis­cussed in a more per­sonal way.

“So we have quite a num­ber of is­sues between the US and China, and so far I think we’ve been able to man­age them” Wang said.

He said that the two sides need to ex­pand their co­op­er­a­tion as much as pos­si­ble. “And hope­fully, the pos­i­tive side will, in the long term, win out,” Wang said.

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