US commander says China ties 'collegial'

The United States' top naval commander in Asia described military relations with China as "collegial" and rejected Cold War comparisons, urging "methodical and thoughtful" diplomacy in the region.

Vice Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the Japan-based US 7th Fleet and in Sydney for bilateral exercises, said maritime security was an increasingly important issue in the Indo-Pacific region as both trade and militarisation boomed.

"Economic power is being converted to military power in many parts of the region, which may increase the temptation to use coercion or force in an attempt to resolve differences between nations," he said in a speech to the Lowy Institute foreign policy think-tank.

"The rising of the seas and the opening of the (Arctic's) Northern Passage will bring new security challenges that must be dealt with as well," he added, speaking of global warming's impact in the region.

Swift said he was "very encouraged by the pace" of military connections in the region amid escalating tensions over issues including the South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the sea, rejecting competing claims to parts of it by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Some of the claimants have expressed concern at Beijing's increasingly assertive military and diplomatic tactics to stress its control.

US President Barack Obama warned China last week against using force or intimidation in its maritime disputes and urged a peaceful resolution.

Swift said his focus was on inclusive military operations, seeking "to the maximum extent possible multilateral exercises", adding he had had "very collegial exchanges with PLAN (Chinese navy) ships throughout the region, and really throughout the world".

"We need to be methodical and thoughtful about the process by which we pull the relationships together," he said.

"In the past I think there's been a rush to achieve a form of success without fully understanding what success is, especially in the context of the parties that are coming together."

Swift said he believed military collaboration with China was "bringing us closer" to a naval understanding similar to that which existed between the US and the Soviet Union to prevent conflict at sea during the Cold War.

But he distanced himself from comparisons with the 40-year US-Soviet standoff, saying there were "very, very different circumstances", starting with the fact that the 7th Fleet was as large as the entire Chinese navy.

"We have much more in common than we do have in competition with China," Swift added.

"The Cold War was really a competition between governments, competition between our militaries, who was the strongest was the question of the day. I just don't see that in today's maritime environment."

Swift said he was "heartened" by the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the region and welcomed discussions about whether its mandate should extend beyond economic issues.

"The instability that is resident within the South China Sea is really ringed by all those countries that are participants in ASEAN, so its relevance is much higher than what it was even four or five years ago," he said.

"If it grows into a maritime focus more than what it has now, I'd be very anxious to participate in that process."

He said he was "very interested in furthering the code of conduct in the South China Sea", an ASEAN initiative which "has great value".

But if it were to be meaningful there must be agreement on its structure and contents, he said.

China has been reluctant to reach such a code of conduct with the ASEAN bloc, preferring to negotiate individually with each country.

US Secretary of State John Kerry urged progress on the pact at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Brunei this month.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro Manila …

  • Leni Robredo may run for senator
    Leni Robredo may run for senator

    The widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that running for higher office in 2016 had crossed her mind. Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Leni Robredo said she is focused on her re-election, but there is always the possibility that she would seek higher office. “There is always that possibility… because the filing (of certificate of candidacy) is in October yet,” Robredo said in an interview after her speech during the 23rd Girl Scouts of the Philippines Council …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options