Will fly in international airspace: Mike Mullen
Washington: China's objection to the
America's reconnaissance flights over the South China Sea
region will not deter the US from flying in the international
air space, a top Pentagon official said here on Monday.
"We won't be deterred from flying in international
airspace," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint
Chiefs of Staff, told correspondents at a news conference.
Mullen has just returned from a trip to China, where
he said these issues were discussed with his Chinese
counterpart, General Chen Bingd, but differences persist.
"We do not agree on everything, and neither of us
really expected that we would. There are still very real, very
substantive issues between us that inhibit the sort of close
cooperation and partnership we enjoy with other militaries in
the region," he said.
"The Chinese object to Taiwan arm sales. We object to
the use of coercion in settling disputes in the South China
Sea. The Chinese don't like our routine reconnaissance flights
in international airspace. And we don't like any attempt to
inhibit freedom of navigation and access to the global
commons, to include international waters and airspace," Mullen
"I think that's just going to have to be OK for right
now. In fact, I would argue that genuine disagreement is a
healthy part of any relationship. The hard part is trying to
move past those areas where you simply cannot find common
ground to those where you can. And General Chen and I are
trying to do that," he said.
"The initiatives we agreed to are good, healthy first
steps in what I consider a burgeoning relationship, but they
are only first steps. We have a long way to go in our
relationship with China and no recent history of strategic
trust upon which to build it," he said.
"I'm under no illusion about the magnitude of the
problem in that regard any more than I am about the importance
of having a relationship with the PLA not solely given over to
reaction and overreaction by either side," Mullen said,
adding, the time is now to try to make this work, especially
given the great significance of the Asia Pacific region to
global security and prosperity.
No doubt, developing military relationship with China
is in America's interests, but the US cannot let it dominate
its thinking, planning, and force posture decisions, he said.
"We have other vital and enduring security commitments
in the region that we must also deepen and broaden. That's why
I also made it a point to visit Korea and Japan, two of our
staunchest allies there," he added.