'US is not trying to contain China in Asia Pacific'



Washington: The US wants to build a healthy, transparent and sustainable relationship with China, and this is one of the main reasons for rebalancing the defence posture in the Asia Pacific region, a top Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

Deputy Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, told a Washington think-tank that the US was not trying to contain China in the region, rather, it was reaching out to the country.

"A key objective of our rebalance is to build a healthy, transparent and sustainable US-China defence relationship, one that supports a broader US-China relationship," he said at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

Referring to the recent remarks of Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta that a strong and cooperative US-China partnership is essential for global security and prosperity in the 21st century, Carter said the US seeks to cooperate with China on a range of diplomatic, economic and security issues, including working closely with them to build an enduring foundation for a bilateral military-to-military relations.

"Recently our navies participated in a joint counter piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, an area of strategic and economic importance for both countries. The exercise helped us to build trust and gave our sailors a chance to work together," he said.

"And Secretary Panetta invited China to participate in the annual Rim of the Pacific Exercise, which is our largest multilateral maritime exercise. So our defence relationship with China is an essential part of our rebalance," he said.

At the same time, Carter insisted that its rebalance in the Asia Pacific region is not only about the United States or China.

"It's not about any other individual country or group of countries. It's about a peaceful Asia-Pacific region where all countries can enjoy the benefit of security and continue to prosper," he observed.

Carter strongly refuted the notion that the US is trying to contain China in the region.

"To those who have concerns, I'd say: Watch the steps. And the steps we want to take are ones that are cooperative. We're reaching out". The United States, he said, is trying to make the Chinese military a part of the security mix in the region.

"It's been that environment in which these tremendous economic transformations of one Asian state after another can take place. We welcome that. We think that's a good thing. We want to keep going with that. That's what it's all about," Carter said.

PTI