O YΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ ΑΜΥΝΑΣ ΤΩΝ ΗΠΑ ΔΡ ΑΣΤΟΝ ΚΑΡΤΕΡ ΠΡΟΤΕΙΝΕΙ ΚΑΛΥΤΕΡΕΣ ΣΧΕΣΕΙΣ ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΚΙΝΑ ΑΛΛΑ....
ROBERT BURNS,Associated Press
SINGAPORE (AP) — Striking a notably positive tone,
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Saturday offered closer U.S.
cooperation with China in pursuit of a deeper and broader Asian security
network. He said he intends to visit Beijing this year. In a speech to an international security conference
in Singapore, Carter repeated frequent U.S. complaints about China
unnerving its neighbors with expansive moves to build up reefs, islets
and other land features in the disputed South China Sea. But he did not
explicitly accuse China of militarizing those areas. He emphasized possibilities for cooperating with China while stating that the U.S. will remain the pre-eminent power. "America wants to expand military-to-military
agreements with China to focus not only on risk reduction, but also on
practical cooperation. Our two militaries can also work together," he
said, bilaterally or as part of a broader security network to combat
global threats like terrorism and piracy. "The United States wants to work with China to find
solutions for the global problems we're both facing and seize the many
opportunities before us," he said. Tom Mahnken, president of the Center for Strategic
and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank, praised Carter's
emphasis on developing partnerships. "Secretary Carter was right to emphasize multilateral
approaches in the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, America's alliances and
partnerships in the region give us an enduring competitive advantage,"
Mahnken said by email from Washington. "By contrast, China's actions
have increasingly isolated it." Carter called for establishing a "principled security
network" across Asia, which he defined as "nations building connections
for a common cause, planning and training together, and eventually
operating in a coordinated way." He said that in September he will
co-host, with his Laotian counterpart, a meeting of defense ministers
from across the Asia-Pacific, to find new ways to broaden and deepen a
regional security network. In raising the prospect of conflict in the South
China Sea, Carter said China is isolating itself by building up man-made
islands there. The Chinese in some cases are erecting airfields that
will extend Beijing's military reach. He said for the second time in a
week that China's actions could erect a "great wall of self-isolation." "There is growing anxiety in this region, and in this
room, about China's activities on the seas, in cyberspace, and in the
region's airspace," he said. "Indeed, in the South China Sea, China has
taken some expansive and unprecedented actions, that have generated
concerns about China's strategic intentions."
He also noted a coming ruling by a U.N.
arbitration tribunal on the Philippines' challenge to China's claims in
the South China Sea. He called this ruling, which is expected this
summer, "an opportunity for China and the rest of the region to recommit
to a principled future, to renewed diplomacy, and to lowering tensions,
rather than raising them." During a question-and-answer session with his
audience, Carter was asked why the U.S. attaches such importance to
exercising its right to fly and sail military aircraft and ships near
other countries' coasts, including China's. "What we stand for is the principle of rule
of law and abiding by international law in the commons," Carter said.
"It's not a focus on China. It's a focus on principle." Sen. John McCain, who was attending the
Singapore conference as part of a U.S. congressional delegation, said
Friday that the arbitration outcome will present sent a chance for China
to show its acceptance of international norms. "This decision should not be viewed by China
as a suggestion, but as a law that China must acknowledge, abide by and
uphold," he said in his prepared remarks. "The region and the world will
be watching to see what choice China makes. In short, China can choose
to disrupt the rules-based order. Or it can choose to become a vital
partner in maintaining it. I fear the consequences if China chooses the
path of disruption." In his speech, Carter mostly emphasized the positive. "The United States welcomes the emergence of a
peaceful, stable and prosperous China that plays a responsible role in
the region's principled security network," he said. "We know China's
inclusion makes for a stronger network and a more stable, secure and
prosperous region." He also made clear, however, that the U.S. intends to maintain, even expand, its military presence in the Asia-Pacific. "The Defense Department maintains its
world-leading capabilities because the United States has made
incomparable investments in it over decades. As a result, it will take
decades or more for anyone to build the kind of military capability the
United States possesses," he said. He mentioned only in passing North Korea's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.
did not send its defense minister to Singapore, and Carter held no
meetings with members of Beijing's delegation. But at a
conference-opening dinner Friday evening Carter shook hands and spoke
briefly with the senior Chinese representative, Adm. Sun Jianguo,
according to a U.S. official who was present.
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