left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

Admiral: US flights should stop

Updated: 2014-09-19 07:05
By Chen Weihua in Washington and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing (China Daily)

Officer reaffirms China's right to defend its territory and airspace

A senior military officer has reiterated that China has a right to protect its maritime territory and airspace, and said that frequent close-in reconnaissance by the United States should stop.

China will not stop identification requests and interceptions "as long as foreign planes and vessels conduct close-in reconnaissance on China," said Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the Chinese People's Liberation Army navy.

"Close-in reconnaissance, either by vessels or aircraft, by the United States should not occur again," he said.

Wu was speaking to reporters as he led a delegation at the International Seapower Symposium, a biennial gathering of the world's navy chiefs that has been held at the US Naval War College since 1969. China is attending the symposium for the first time.

US close-in reconnaissance of the Chinese coast is one of the most contentious issues to be discussed, and analysts noted the frankness of exchanges between Beijing and Washington as they undertake a range of military-to-military discussions to avoid the risk of an accident.

Chief of US Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert said in Washington last week that while the close encounter of a Chinese fighter jet and a US surveillance plane off Hainan Island in the South China Sea on Aug 19 drew much attention, "it should not define our relationship".

Greenert said that the US has no intention of stopping or reducing close-in reconnaissance along the Chinese coast.

Admiral Wu told Harry Harris Jr, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, that he hopes to avoid a repetition of the collision between a Chinese fighter jet and US EP3 spy plane that occurred in 2001.

Recounting the conversation to Chinese reporters, Wu said he told Harris:

"I want to assure you that China's PLA navy commander not only hopes that an accident does not occur, but wants to avoid a second collision between Chinese and US military aircraft, and the sacrifice of a second Wang Wei."

Wang Wei was the Chinese pilot killed during the collision. The US plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were detained and released 10 days later.

Yuan Peng, a US studies expert and vice-president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the August incident, which saw Beijing and Washington trade barbs over the Aug 19 airspace encounter, was being dealt with.

The incident was one of the negative aspects of the relationship over the past two years, and the recent visit by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice to China has shown the effort of both countries to limit the damage, Yuan said.

Zhang Junshe, deputy director of the Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said that: "divergences will not be eliminated unless the two countries embark on interaction and cooperation".

"In this process, the countries should show deep understanding and respect each other's core interests and major concerns," he said.

Wu also dismissed US claims that the Chinese pilot had been provocative in the Aug 19 encounter. He called the claims groundless and asked the US to show what evidence it had.

Despite the differences, military-to-military exchanges have increased substantially in the past two years, with more high-level visits and joint exercises.

Contact the writers at chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com and zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn

Admiral: US flights should stop Admiral: US flights should stop
 Navy crews from China, US compete in matches  China urges US to stop close-in surveillance
  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.