GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Online Extras

August 20, 2013

Defense secretary says he will visit China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday that he will visit China next year to capitalize on an improving trend in U.S.-China relations, even as Beijing casts a wary eye on the Pentagon’s strategic “pivot” to Asia and the Pacific.

During a break in meetings at the Pentagon, Hagel and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chang Wanquan, told reporters they see room for greater U.S.-China military cooperation, including joint exercises and high-level visits. Chang affirmed that China’s navy next year will participate for the first time in a major international maritime exercise.

Hagel said he accepted Chang’s invitation to visit Beijing in 2014. The last U.S. defense secretary to visit China was Leon Panetta in September 2012.

Chang and Hagel both spoke hopefully of building greater trust between the two nations’ militaries and chipping away at long-held suspicions. But Chang in particular cautioned against mistaking his country’s friendliness for weakness.

“No one should fantasize that China would barter away our core interests, and no one should underestimate our will and determination in defending our territory, sovereignty and maritime rights,” Chang said through an interpreter.

He appeared to be referring to China’s disputes with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and other Asian nations over territorial boundaries in the South China Sea. Hagel alluded to these tensions, saying in a prepared statement that while the U.S. does not take sides in territorial claims, it encourages all parties to avoid allowing tensions to escalate into armed conflict.

Chang seemed to suggest that the U.S. not intervene in the territorial disputes.

“The Asia-Pacific is our common homeland,” Chang said. “Any action that leads to trouble or provocation, any unwanted action out of self-interest or (that) further complicates or magnifies the situation would be highly irresponsible and will not lead to a favorable result.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Online Extras

NDN Video
Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down Rise of the Milkbots TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Raw: Keflezighi, Jeptoo Win Boston Marathon Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret President Sends Message To Boston And Marathon Runners LA Pastor Attracts Churchgoers with Pot Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body