Chinese naval chief debuts at Seapower forum

Updated: 2014-09-18 11:53

By Chen Weihua in Washington(China Daily USA)

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China is for the first time attending the International Seapower Symposium (ISS), a biennial gathering of the world's chiefs of navies held at the US Naval War College since 1969.

On Wednesday morning, Chief of US Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert welcomed attendees from China and Madagascar, both of whom are attending for the first time.

"It's very good to have you aboard, joining the collective group here," Greenert said in his opening remarks at the 21st edition of ISS webcast live Wednesday morning.

The Chinese participant, Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy, is no stranger to Greenert. It is the fifth time they've met in the past year, including during Greenert's official visit to China in July and Wu's official visit to the US last September.

This year's conference, with a theme of global solutions to common maritime challenges, drew 170 representatives, including many chiefs of navies and coast guards, from 113 countries to Newport, Rhode Island.

Greenert stressed the commonality of all navies in his opening speech. "The common environment is the sea. The common interest: stability and economic growth. The common responsibility that I share and you share with your nation: that is the security of your homeland and security of the seas," he said.

Greenert pointed out that there were also numerous common challenges.

US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus echoed what Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work stated in a video speech: that in the 21st century, no single nation has the capacity to protect and defend the global system alone.

"To keep the sea lanes open, all nations and people that seek freedom of movement and trade and also security have to carry their own share of the responsibility," Mabus said.

"A collective effort will assure that our navies provide that necessary presence. Whether in blue water or brown, we can help assure stability and security, creating and strengthening global relationships, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, deterring adversaries when possible, and meeting and defeating threats wherever necessary," he said.

"We have to remember that collective security is just that, collective," he said.

Wu, the PLA Navy chief since 2006, is expected to deliver a speech on establishing a new-type maritime security view and jointly building an oceanic environment for peaceful development. He will also participate in a panel discussion on the Pacific Ocean region and meet with naval leaders from various countries, according to China's Ministry of National Defense.

Greenert said the ISS is just one of the many platforms to build on cooperation. In April, China hosted the biennial Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao, Shandong province. At that meeting, more than 20 navies voluntarily signed the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

In a speech in Washington last week, Greenert praised China's role in hosting that conference. "I think we made a pretty good step forward," he said. "It will establish professional behavior and clear communication that we need to reduce uncertainty when we meet and increase safety."

While Greenert said last week that the US has no intention to stop or reduce the close-in reconnaissance along the Chinese coast, Wu, the PLA navy chief, told the Phoenix TV on Wednesday that as long as foreign planes and vessels conduct close-in reconnaissance on China, China will not stop its identification and interception.

But Wu told Harry Harris Jr, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, that he hopes to avoid the repetition of the collision between a Chinese fighter jet and US spy EP3 spy plane.

"I want to assure you that China's PLA Navy commander not only does not hope but want to avoid a second collision between Chinese and US military jets, and the sacrifice of life of a second Wang Wei," Wu told Harris, according to a Phoenix TV report.

Wang Wei was the Chinese pilot killed during the 2001 collision between a Chinese fighter jet and US EP3 spy plane off China's Hainan Island. The EP3 made an emergency landing in Hainan Island and its 24 crew members were detained and released 10 days later after US made an apology.

Wu also refuted the US saying that the Chinese pilot has been provocative in the recent Aug 19 encounter. He called it groundless and asked the US side to show the evidence.

(China Daily USA 09/18/2014 page1)