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US-China interactions in East China Sea 'remain professional'
Publication Date : 06-02-2014
China's contentious air defence identification zone over the East China Sea has not led to a "significant" increase in interactions between its forces and United States military planes flying in the area.
Interactions between the two sides "have been and continue to be professional", the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said yesterday during a conference call from Tokyo with reporters in the region.
Washington does not recognise the zone - which Beijing unveiled last November to sharp protest from its neighbours - and has not changed its operations in the area, he added.
"We haven't seen a significant change in those interactions since the reported establishment of the defence zone," Locklear said.
"The good news is that military forces are acting professionally as we interact in these areas."
But even as simmering territorial disputes in the South and East China seas that have pitted the US and its allies against China threaten to boil over, he stressed the need to keep track of the bigger picture and offered positive signs that ties between the militaries of the two countries were improving.
"We have to be focused on the security environment on some of these individual issues but we have to keep track of the bigger picture," he said.
"In the long run, we want China to be a participant in a peaceful security environment with the rest of (its) neighbours as well as with the US."
The US and China will continue to pursue opportunities to develop military relations, and Washington has invited the Chinese navy to participate alongside about 20 countries in the Rim of the Pacific exercise this summer in Hawaii, he revealed.
"I have it on good authority that they are coming", and the Indians are also considering participating, Locklear said.
"These are confidence-building military measures that help us prevent miscalculation and allow us to move forward peacefully."