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Pacom Commander Discusses U

Pacom Commander Discusses U.S.-China Military Encounters

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.

Direct dialogue

“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 for days.

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 called irresponsible.

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 friendly.”

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)
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Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).