U.S. Not Seeking to Contain China, Pentagon Official Says

Recent moves to deepen the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region are not part of an effort to restrict the rise of China, a senior Defense Department official said on Thursday in Beijing (see GSN, Dec.7).

High-level U.S. and Chinese defense officials met in Beijing for yearly talks that are aimed at improving military-to-military communications and understanding, thus reducing the prospects for strategic miscalculations.

Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy said she informed Chinese defense officials that the recent decision to move 2,500 Marines to Australia, along with heightened links with the armed forces of Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam were intended to demonstrate Washington's continued commitment to the region, the Associated Press reported.

"We assured [lead Chinese negotiator Gen. Ma Xiaotian] and his delegation that the U.S. does not seek to contain China," Flournoy said at press conference after the meeting. "We do not view China as an adversary."

"This really isn't about China. This is about Australia and ensuring that we remain present in the region in a way that is really relevant to the kinds of, particularly nontraditional, challenges that we face," the undersecretary said.

Despite Flournoy's remarks, observers in both the United States and China do view the recent measures as an effort to militarily constrain the nuclear-armed power.

Flournoy said the two governments agreed to talk about setting new dates for senior-level military visits that China delayed in September following the Obama administration's approval of a nearly $6 billion arms deal with Taiwan. China claims the self-governing island as its territory.

North Korea's nuclear weapons development was also discussed at the meeting, Fluornoy said.

Key improvements in Chinese missiles and other weapons were not addressed (Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, Dec. 7).

December 8, 2011
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Recent moves to deepen the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region are not part of an effort to restrict the rise of China, a senior Defense Department official said on Thursday in Beijing.

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