US asks China to be transparent on defence issues

WASHINGTON (PTI)

Expressing concern over growing might of China’s armed forces, a top pentagon official has said that absence of clarification from the East Asian country on its military modernisation efforts has significant implications for regional stability.

“Absent clarification from China, its military modernisation efforts hold significant implications for regional stability,” the US Pacific Command Commander Admiral Robert Willard, said in his testimony before House Armed Services Committee.

The region is developing its own conclusions about why the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to expand its ability to project power outside China’s borders, and to range both US forces and its allies and partners in the region with new anti-access and area-denial weaponry.

Willard said China’s rise will largely define Asia-Pacific environment in the 21st century.

He said China’s naval activities are a direct challenge to accepted interpretations of international law and established international norms.

“Of growing concern is China’s maritime behaviour.

China’s recent official statements and actions in what Beijing calls its –near seas — represent a direct challenge to accepted interpretations of international law and established international norms,” Willard said.

“While China does not make legal claims to this entire body of water, it does seek to restrict or exclude foreign, in particular, US, military maritime and air activities in the –near seas — an area that roughly corresponds to the maritime area from the Chinese mainland out to the –first island chain–(described, generally, as a line through Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, and Indonesia) and including the Bohai Gulf, Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea,” he said.

“Unquestionably, China has made tremendous investment in its maritime capabilities across the board, to include the PLA navy,” Willard said.

Willard said that many of China’s maritime policy statements and claims stand in contrast to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The US has consistently sought the appropriate balance between the interests of countries in controlling activities off their coasts with the interests of all countries in protecting freedom of navigation.

“China has questioned whether a non-party may assert such rights under UNCLOS, a baseless argument but one that would be removed if the US was a party to UNCLOS,” he said.

Willard said China continues to accelerate its offensive air and missile developments without corresponding public clarification about how these forces will be utilised.

Willard said Chinese naval and maritime law enforcement vessels have been assertive in recent years in trying to advance China’s territorial claims in the South China and East China Seas which has resulted US partners and allies in East Asia seeking additional support and reassurance to balance and curb the Chinese behaviour.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Apr 9 2011. Filed under All News, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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