US, Asian defence ministers to meet amid China tensions

Defence ministers from the United States and China meet key Asian counterparts for the highest-level security talks ever held in a region.

Last Updated: Oct 10, 2010, 12:42 PM IST

Hanoi: Defence ministers from the United States and China meet key Asian counterparts for the highest-level security talks ever held in a region where tensions are rising over Beijing`s assertiveness.

The ASEAN-led meeting in Vietnam comes against the backdrop of the worst row in years between China and Japan, and renewed US diplomatic push in Southeast Asia, where concern is growing over Chinese activity in the South China Sea.

Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said on Friday he would meet his US counterpart Robert Gates in Hanoi to discuss how to deal with China`s increasing naval presence.

China issued threats and cut all high-level diplomatic contact with Tokyo after the September 8 arrest by Japan of a Chinese trawler captain. His boat collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels near a disputed East China Sea island chain, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Japan released the captain in late September but two Chinese fishery patrol boats sent to the area did not withdraw until last Wednesday, Tokyo said.

Kitazawa said he hoped to meet his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie on the fringes of the Hanoi forum.

"Between Japan and China, I would like to propose establishing a mechanism to resolve accidental incidents," he said, describing the East China Sea security environment as "getting severe and volatile".

Last month, a Japanese defence paper voiced concern over China`s growing military muscle, after a US Defence Department report in August said China was ramping up investment in an array of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare.

Bureau Report

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