Di­vi­sion re­jected

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

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.

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