The senior Air Force commander in the Pacific last week threw cold water on a Chinese military proposal to divide up the Pacific Ocean into U.S. and Chinese spheres of influence.
Gen. Paul V. Hester was asked about China’s recent plan to give the United States control of the eastern Pacific region, while China would control the western Pacific.
“Our policy is not to cede space to anyone,” Gen. Hester said in a telephone press conference from Hawaii.
He said the United States “needs to be” in the western Pacific, “as opposed to running through a proxy, if you will, by ceding a certain part of territory and asking them to take care of it for us.”
The proposal was made to Adm. Tim Keating, the overall commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, during a recent visit to China.
Some pro-China officials in the U.S. government, including in the intelligence community, are said to favor the Chinese proposal. But defense officials say such appeasement would be a huge mistake since it would be tantamount to giving China complete hegemony in the western Pacific, a move that would severely undermine U.S. alliances in Asia and threaten the neutrality of vital sea lanes.