Top US Navy officer to visit China amid heightened tensions

BEIJING — The U.S. Navy’s top officer will visit China starting Sunday amid increasing frictions in the South China Sea and other tensions underscoring their rivalry for dominance in Asia.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will meet with his counterpart Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong and leaders of China’s Central Military Commission during his visit to Beijing and the eastern city of Nanjing lasting through Wednesday, the Navy said.

The goal of the visit, Richardson’s second as head of operations, is to “continue a results-oriented, risk reduction focused dialogue” between the two militaries, the Navy said.

“A routine exchange of views is essential, especially in times of friction, in order to reduce risk and avoid miscalculation,” the release quoted Richardson as saying. “Honest and frank dialogue can improve the relationship in constructive ways, help explore areas where we share common interests, and reduce risk while we work through our differences.”

Richardson and Shen met previously at the 2018 International Seapower Symposium in the U.S. and have held three discussions via video teleconference, the most recent in December, the release said.

China has long chafed at the robust U.S. naval presence in its region, seeing that as a key component of a strategy to contain its development.

In recent years, the South China Sea has become the main area of contention, home to islands, rich fishing grounds, undersea mineral deposits and shipping lanes through which pass an estimated $5 trillion in goods annually. China claims virtually the entire waterway on historical grounds and has strengthened its hold through the fortification of its island holdings and the construction and man-made outposts by piling sand and concrete atop coral reefs.

Five other governments also exercise overlapping claims in the area and while the U.S. takes no formal position on sovereignty, it insists on the right to navigation and overflight, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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