New Delhi: The US today viewed with concern
the growing Chinese assertiveness in the Asian region as India
shared its apprehensions over reported People`s Liberation
Army presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
US Pacific Command chief Admiral Robert Willard told
reporters here that he discussed with India`s top security
leadership about the reports of Chinese military personnel
being in PoK, though not much information was exchanged on it.
Willard, however, said "any change in military relations
or military manoeuvres by China that raises concerns of India"
could be considered as certainly occurring within his area of
He also maintained that this issue had to be tackled by
the Indian military on its own.
The US Admiral, who wrapped up his two-day visit, had met
Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, IAF Chief
Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma,
Army Chief General V K Singh and Defence Secretary Pradeep
Kumar to discuss regional security and the growing military
relationship between the two countries.
To a question on China`s increasing assertiveness in
South China Sea and its implications of potential military
conflict, Willard said his purpose as Pacific Commander was to
ensure that "it did not erupt into a clash, maintain security
and ensure that what we are seeing out of China or anyone else
doesn`t erupt into a conflict."
As Pacific Commander, the Admiral said, his first and
foremost responsibility was to take forward the US-China
"We are anxious to do that. It is not easy to do and its
been suspended for some time. So we have a lot of work to do
to improve our relationship with the Peoples Liberation Army
(PLA)," he said.
"The assertiveness that we have witnessed in the maritime
regions around China has complicated that fact but not
eliminated it. We think it is a regional issue and many of the
US` allies and partners are concerned about. It was expressed
well in Asean regional forum," he noted.
On the recent reports of Chinese submarines planting a
flag in the South China Sea, the Admiral said the "expansive
claims" that China had made publicly had "generated concern"
and combined with assertiveness of its security forces too had
"solicited concern" in the region.
"We believe that maritime claims and some of the
contested areas in the South China Sea region should be
settled in a peaceful way and no nation should be coercing
another nation for their own benefit and at the expense of
the other," he added.
"The US has asserted its national interests in the
region," he said, referring to the statements in this regard
by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary
Robert Gates in recent times.
Regarding the Chinese Navy`s expansion plans, Willard
said the growth of its capabilities and capacities in the last
decade had been "remarkable", particularly its ability to
sustain anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden off Somali
coast, which he described as "noteworthy."
"We are watching this growth of the Chinese navy and
understanding its goals and aims. We want it to contribute to
the growth of regional stability. India too," he added.
On the anti-aircraft carrier missile capability that
China was developing, Willard said the `anti access area
denial` capability was not new for the US Navy, which had
faced it during the cold war days too.
But it was significant that a ballistic missile was being
developed, which was "a natural evolution" that the American
Navy was dealing with.