China, US navies work on re­la­tions

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

The US’ top naval of­fi­cial has as­sured the pub­lic of the im­prov­ing mech­a­nism be­tween the US and China to pre­vent any con­flict at sea.

Ad­mi­ral John Richard­son, chief of naval op­er­a­tions, talked about China’s an­ti­ac­cess and area-de­nial strat­egy, known as A2/AD, and the sit­u­a­tion in the South China Sea, on Mon­day at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton.

He told the au­di­ence that he and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Ad­mi­ral Wu Shengli, com­man­der-in-chief of China’s Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, have a di­a­logue mech­a­nism “so that in the rare event, un­likely event of some­thing hap­pen­ing, we can get on the phone with each other, and deesca­late quickly.”

Richard­son vis­ited China in July and had in­ten­sive in­ter­ac­tion with Wu. The two hold reg­u­lar video tele­con­fer­enc­ing ses­sions to ex­change views on key is­sues, a legacy in­her­ited from Wu and Richard­son’s pre­de­ces­sor Jonathan Green­ert.

Richard­son, who as­sumed the cur­rent post a year ago, praised the Code for Un­planned En­counter at Sea, known as CUES, which was agreed upon by more than 20 navies in the re­gion at the 2014 West­ern Pa­cific Naval Sym­po­sium held in Qing­dao, China.

“I talked about the CUES quite a bit be­cause it’s such a great ex­am­ple of how we can man­age our way to­wards dis­pute res­o­lu­tion with­out cre­at­ing prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly con­flict,” he said, adding that it was “very suc­cess­ful.”

As an ex­am­ple, Richard­son talked about when he was on the USS John C. Sten­nis months ago as a strike group was de­ployed to the South China Sea and there were a lot of ships from other navies and a lot of en­coun­ters, in­clud­ing with the PLA Navy.

“Ev­ery one of those

We can get on the phone with each other, and deesca­late quickly.”

Ad­mi­ral John Richard­son, US chief of naval op­er­a­tions, dis­cussing his China coun­ter­part Ad­mi­ral Wu Shengli

en­coun­ters by and large, not 100 per­cent, but the vast ma­jor­ity was con­ducted right in ac­cor­dance with CUES,” he said.

Richard­son said the US and all the part­ners in the re­gion, in­clud­ing China, have com­mon in­ter­ests in many ar­eas. “Of­ten those are glossed over, but there are an aw­ful lot of ar­eas where we do have com­mon in­ter­ests. And we have to make sure that we do pile in and re­in­force those ar­eas where our in­ter­ests align,” he said.

He ad­mit­ted that there were also ar­eas of dis­agree­ment. “And as we work through those dis­agree­ments to­wards a com­pro­mise, I think ev­ery­body’s de­sire in the re­gion, all naval lead­ers es­pe­cially, want to do so in a way to mit­i­gate the risks of some kind of mis­cal­cu­la­tion, or es­ca­la­tion that would just send us in the wrong di­rec­tion,” he said.

He said the hope was that an agree­ment will be reached and ac­cept­able to all players in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the US, China and ev­ery­body else, in a way that does not in­volve con­flict.

“Cer­tainly we won’t want to do any de­lib­er­ate con­flict, but we also want to make sure we don’t do any kind of con­flict that re­sults from mis­cal­cu­la­tion or mis­take,” he said.

De­spite ten­sions, the China and US mil­i­taries, es­pe­cially the navies, have strength­ened their ex­changes.

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