Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Pentagon hosts China's chief naval officer

POSSIBILITIES Wu Shengli's visit was his first overseas, meeting with his Western counterparts who were eager to discuss the future of Sino-American naval relations

AFP , WASHINGTON

The US on Wednesday asked China to join a global effort to maintain international maritime security, as the Pentagon welcomed Beijing's navy chief Vice Admiral Wu Shengli (吳勝利) on a rare visit.

Admiral Michael Mullen, the US chief of naval operations, called on Wu to consider "China's potential participation in global maritime partnership initiatives" during talks at the Pentagon, his spokesman, Commander John Kirby, said.

Mullen was referring to the "1,000-ship Navy" concept, first proposed at an international seapower symposium in 2005, aimed at building -- on a voluntary basis -- a transnational network of navies, the shipping industry and law enforcement agencies to respond to crises or emergencies at sea.

The idea was tossed by two US admirals following the rapid international responses to the Asian tsunami in December 2004.

The US, India, Australia and Japan, the four most powerful democratic nations in the Asia-Pacific region, joined hands in a swift operation to help in relief work during the disaster.

Wu "expressed interest" in the 1,000-ship Navy plan and "shared concerns in maritime security both regionally and globally," Kirby said.

The Chinese admiral "asked for more information" about the plan "so that he would better acquaint himself about it," he said.

Wu is on his first overseas visit since taking over the helm recently and the Washington trip comes just after the Beijing visit by General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, aimed at boosting US-Sino military ties.

Mullen and Wu discussed "issues of mutual concerns," Kirby said, adding that the talks "contributed to a greater sense of transparency between the two leaders and our two navies."

Mullen, speaking at a Washington forum on Tuesday, noted that the Chinese were shifting from a "land-centric force to an air-centric and naval-centric force and clearly that force and capability has the potential to focus very much on the US navy.

Mullen said the key was building up ties with China to better understand the nation as Washington had been doing particularly over the last couple of years.

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