Dempsey: Asian Nations Need
to Dial Back on Provocations
By Jim Garamone, American Forces
Singapore – (AFPS)
– May 30, 2014 – Tensions have ratcheted up in the Asia-Pacific region, and
countries need to dial back on provocative acts to avoid the dangers of
miscalculation, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during an
interview here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Japanese television
network NHK that “the region is less stable principally because of the actions
of certain countries and their coercion and provocation in an attempt to solve
Dempsey is visiting Singapore to participate in the Shangri-La
Dialogue regional security conference.
Though the United States takes no position on these
territorial disputes, “we do have some definite thoughts on behaviors, and the
behaviors have changed,” he said.
Two years ago, regional nations didn’t demonstrate their
military power to pressurize what rightly is a diplomatic issue, the chairman
said. “That dynamic has changed, and now there is military power being used.
That’s not a positive outcome,” he said. “We have to confront the fact that that
is a path that will inevitably lead to less stability and probably make a
diplomatic solution far more complicated.”
The behaviors are provocative and unsettling to U.S. allies
in the region, Dempsey said. “This is something we have to continue to discuss,
to try to mitigate, like … the codes of behavior we’ve been discussing,” he
The United States has worked with individual countries and
with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to establish these codes of
behavior, but more needs to be done in the air domain, the chairman said. On May
25, Japan accused Chinese fighters of flying “dangerously close” to Japanese
reconnaissance aircraft over a disputed area in the East China Sea.
Dempsey said this happens often to American aircraft as they
conduct reconnaissance missions. “There are open lines to discuss such things,”
the general said.
Dempsey discussed the dangers of miscalculation with Chinese
Gen. Fang Fenghui, the chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation
Army, when Fang visited Washington on May 15. Both men said they want to
establish rules of behavior for the air domain. “We’ve already made rules for
the maritime domain, and I do think it’s a worthwhile enterprise to seek
agreements, because certainly we don’t want to have a miscalculation that puts
us in a position where the conversation gets much more tense,” Dempsey said.
The chairman stressed that recent American moves to rebalance
to the Asia-Pacific region are not in any way intended to offset or contain
China. “Frankly, I think the Chinese have a different view of that, and I
acknowledge that,” he added.
The United States has responsibilities to treaty allies in
the region, Dempsey said, but there are many reasons for the United States to
seek broader relationships with other nations. “There are many areas of common
interest for all the nations in this region, not the least of which is freedom
of navigation and open access to markets and trade, humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief, piracy -- there’s plenty of things on which we ought to be
broadening our engagement,” he said.
And that includes engagement with China, he said. The U.S.
military-to-military relationship with China is developing, Dempsey said, and it
will become more effective when it reaches farther down the ranks in both
Partnerships are key to success for the United States, the
nation’s top military officer said. “The real strength of the U.S. armed forces
is our own internal capabilities, but it is also the degree to which we are
involved with, and bring capability and capacity to, multinational and
multilateral venues such as NATO,” he said. “Most of our alliances in this part
of the world tend to be bilateral, but where we can, we encourage multilateral
exercises and engagements on issues of common interests.”
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Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Special Report: Travels With Dempsey