Pacom Commander Discusses U
Pacom Commander Discusses U.S.-China Military
By Nick Simeone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – September 25, 2014 – A series of close encounters between U.S.
military planes and ships and those from China has stopped after some “pretty
direct dialogue” between both countries, the top U.S. military commander for the
Asia-Pacific region said today.
“These are very serious things,” Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear
III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters at a Pentagon news
conference today, saying he was disappointed, but not surprised, that the
encounters or intercepts as the military calls them occurred.
But Locklear said such incidents -- including one Aug. 19 in
which a Chinese fighter jet flew within 30 feet of a U.S Navy P-8 Poseidon
aircraft that was conducting a routine mission in international airspace east of
China’s Hainan Island -- seem to have stopped following talks between the U.S.
and Chinese militaries. There have been several other close encounters between
military aircraft from both countries since March.
“We have a pretty direct dialogue about what we saw was
unsafe and how they interpreted it as being unsafe and since the last one
occurred, we haven’t had any more,” Locklear said.
In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. Navy
surveillance plane in international airspace near Hainan Island, killing the
Chinese pilot and forcing the American plane to make an emergency landing, after
which the aircraft and its 24-member crew were detained by Chinese authorities
The United States has registered its strong concern with
China about the Aug. 19 incident, which a Pentagon spokesman called dangerous,
unprofessional and inconsistent with international law. In December, a Chinese
warship came within 100 yards of the U.S. destroyer Cowpens by cutting across
its path in the South China Sea, a maneuver that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Today, Locklear called such encounters “outliers,” saying the
majority of interactions between U.S. and Chinese ships or aircraft are done
safely and professionally. “Does it mean we won’t have another one? I hope we
don’t,” he said. “[But] if we do, we will have a mechanism to address it.” He
described his discussions with his Chinese counterparts as being “frank and
Locklear attributed the increasing number of encounters
between the U.S. and Chinese navies to the fact that Beijing now has a larger
and more active fleet of warships. He described the overall security environment
in the Asia-Pacific region as having been good for decades, despite frictions
with China, which he said can be overcome through ongoing dialogue.
(Folow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @SimeoneDoDNews)
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III
DoD News Video: Locklear News Conference
U.S. Pacific Command
Special Report: U.S. Pacific Command
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