SEA of JAPAN (March 6, 2012) - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), middle, Republic of Korea (ROK) navy destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG 991), front, and ROK navy destroyer ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin sail in formation while on patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor)

US and Korean warships patrol the Sea of Japan

WASHINGTON:  The much-debated “pivot to Asia” works even in the face of sequestration and is reassuring our Pacific allies that we will stand behind them, the Navy’s most senior officer said on his return from the region. “Our budget situation is tough, [but] it’s not going to stop the rebalance,” pledged Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, in a speech Tuesday night at Washington’s Willard Hotel. What’s next, he said, is to take old alliances to the next level in northeast Asia, build new relationships in southeast Asia, and, most challenging of all, come to a better understanding with our potential adversary, China.

When Greenert talked to partner nations on a previous trip, he said, “the question sort of was, ‘Are you guys going to be here?… You’re writing this new strategy and we’re a little anxious.’”  That strategy was the Defense Strategic Guidance, issued January 2012, which said the US “will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region,” and the Pentagon has made some effort to put ships, aircraft, and marines behind those words.

Now, on this latest trip, “I didn’t catch any of that [uncertainty],” Greenert went on. “The question became, ‘Good, you’re here; we see that. What’s next?’”

What’s next, among many other things, are baby steps towards joint exercises between the US and China. Brunei will be hosting a humanitarian relief exercise in June, Greenert said, in which US, Chinese, and Japanese vessels will all participate. Beijing has already formally accepted an invitation to the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (fondly known as RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises off Hawaii. But it was just on this trip, Greenert said, that the Chinese put some meat on the bones by agreeing to participate in planning conferences with the US.

They “sealed the deal” at a conference of the chiefs of 30 navies which Greenert attended in Singapore. (Greenert took the opportunity to show off the newly arrived Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom to foreign dignitaries). “We all met the commander of the [Chinese] South China Sea fleet, and he gave me his coin,” Greenert said, flashing an enormous golden disk, a exaggerated imitation of the “challenge coins” that US commanders have made a fetish of handing out to visitors. “Their fleet’s getting big and so are the coins,” the CNO chuckled. “This is perhaps the biggest coin that I’ve laid my hands on.”

More substantively, Greenert said, “we talked about their commitment to getting interactions right in the East China Sea and the South China Sea,” where mainland China’s expansive territorial claims have rankled US allies like South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, as well as America’s old nemesis turned newfound friend, Vietnam. The US itself has had several tense clashes with China, when a Chinese fighter crashed into an American EP-3 spy plane off Hainan Island and when Chinese navy ships sailed within 50 feet of the USNS Impeccable in a calculated effort to force the ship to leave international waters in the South China Sea.

“We continue to fly our P-3s and EP-3s down through the South China Sea, and we’re insistent that that’s international airspace,” Greenert said. “We talk about it with the Chinese, and we have lots of conversations about it,” he added noncommittally, perhaps on the old theory that if you can’t say anything positive, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Pacific nations have been working on a general-purpose code of Conduct for Unalerted Encounters at Sea (CUES) and a region-specific code of conduct for the South China Sea. Under the leadership of Malaysia’s top admiral, Greenert said, “everybody has voted yes, except for the Chinese Navy, on a set of protocols.” So the assembled admirals handed the Chinese delegation the agreed text and told them to come back with a counterproposal everyone could agree to.

“I think we want the same thing, prevention of miscalculation,” Greenert said of his Chinese counterparts.

For America’s longstanding treaty partners in Japan and South Korea, however, Greenert said, “China is definitely important, but China was looked at as more of an opportunity than a threat. The focus was on North Korea.” There the most erratic leader from a long-erratic dynasty, Kim Jong Un, has alarmed US allies – and even frustrated his family’s long-time patrons in Beijing – with a series of threats and missile launches.

The trick with ballistic missile defense, however, is that it’s an inherently regional endeavor: South Korea and Japan both have to worry about the same launch sites. “We need to reconcile our BMD capacity and capability,” Greenert said. “We need to look at our connectivity and our link construct, and in the end, evolve towards a trilateral framework: Japan, US, and Republic of Korea.”

“This is kind of a step way into the future because there are cultural issues,” Greenert said understatedly. (Japan occupied Korea, brutally, from 1895 to 1945, and the two nations still regard each other with suspicion that edges into loathing). But there have been cracks in the mask of fear and hate. Last June, Japan and South Korea came very close to signing an agreement to share classified information, seen by many as a step toward the two states becoming formal allies. But that fell apart when South Korean groups opposed to reconciliation with Japan learned of the pact just days before it was to be signed and objected. Also last summer, warships from both nations did an exercise with the USS Nimitz carrier group.  “Folks scoffed, we’ll never get a trilateral exercise off with those three navies,’” Greenert said. “It can be done.”

Comments

  • Don Bacon

    Who knew? The vaunted “pivot” to Asia-Pacific is a Nixonesque Navy detente with China, a new realization that China is becoming a sea power in its ‘near abroad.’

  • george

    People do not seem to get it with the Chinese. I have been studying them for over ten years. They are a race based on power. If you have power it is accepted that you will use it whether it be pushing your car in a 2 meter gap or getting to the front of a queue or using your position to take bribes. What is more it is so ingrained that the people who are disadvantaged by the use of this power accept it without question. Road rage does not exist in China. Their response to the use of power is ingrained. It makes them falsely appear humble.

    If they have military power they will certainly use it unless they are outclassed.

    • Young

      Obviously you don’t know but a superficial understanding of China. Read the long history. If you have no time I recommend this book.

      The Rise of China vs The Logic of Strategy. By Edward N. Luttwak. Belknap Press of Harvard Univeristy;

      • george

        So I assume your point is China can be trusted. I recommend you read “Poorly Made in China” It details clearly the Chinese psyche” Your comments are based on what? Have you lived in China, have you been involved socially in China, have you done business in China, do you know the Chinese system, is your family part Chinese?

        • Young

          Stick to the facts and not straw-man accusations. I suggest you read their long history. If you read and studied that you will understand the huge internal problems that China always faced that always limited any expansion. Suematsu Kanchou was a excellent historian of China and Luttwak’s book found similar findings more than a century later. For example if you actually study their history you would learn that the Hans only ruled the whole of China for 357 of the last 1000 years and that includes the Ming Dynasty and the modern era Republic of China and People’s Republic of China. As for trust, can any country be trusted? Go study their history and you will understand your assessment is superficial.

          • george

            I speak Chinese, I have lived and studied their culture for 15years. I have had 4 Chinese girlfriends, two businesses based in China and one in Taiwan. From the period of the 3 cities their values have changed little, monkey business and power.

            The Chinese remain dangerous, unprincipled and largely misunderstood. They will use any advantage ruthlessly. To go back in history, the Mongolian bow, a technological marvel maybe, they used to rampage across Europe and parts of Russia.
            The educated elites idea of personal success is to get to a position where they can make illegal money. Statistic: The top 10% salaried workers in China get twice their salaries under the table in black money. It is a rotten corrupt dangerous society, and their billionaire club leaders are the mirror of Chinese success. The educated utterly despise the farmers, they are of no consequence. You may remember the case of a child that was run over with streams of crimson tire tracks leading away from her body in the middle of the road. 18 Beijing suited people looked down and passed by. 18 is statistically significant. Eventually a migrant worker came across the child and immediately gave support.
            It is a broken, selfish and dangerous society.
            In my time in China I could give you countless examples of similar uncaring acts, cheating, lying and callousness.

          • Young

            The Mongols are not Chinese. The Ming Dynasty came to power based on ethnic Han nationalism with all of the resentment to overthrow the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty, only to see the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty of similar horse riding Altaic peoples dominating over them again. A real expert would have known this obvious fact about the difference in ethnicity. You shown that you not only lack historical knowledge but even correct knowledge. All else you say is nothing new and if you ever read the long history of China you would have realized that China is in the same conditions of past dynastic changes. Even Kissinger’s book on China noted this. However Chinese as a civilization has existed for thousand of years repeating this pattern. The quote by Suemitsu Kenchou in 1905 has explained in very succinct terms that explain that pattern exactly. China for the past 2000 years has reached an overstretch point a long time ago. Any expansion that did occur had been under foreign Altaic ruling dynasties. Tibet and the Turkic Xiangjiang were conquered by the Manchus and left the borders within the Sinocentric system that is no longer. Again, what you provide is inaccurate and your expertise superficial at best.

          • Euripides

            Seems to me – the debate here is “long history” of the Chinese powerful and elite vs. the “practical reality” of everyday the modern China businessman/autocrat. For my money, I’d go with the practical reality when choosing a strategy for the present. To do otherwise is tantamount to going to a pub after a Liverpool soccer match and expecting to see the manners and practices of the English royal family.

          • Young

            Such thinking like that, you will fail to understand how the British ever had built an empire such as theirs or for that matter fail to understand how they lost it. If you are to be a strategist or analyst, then all your the expertise you will have will be limited to the same level of a tour guide.

          • george

            Queen Victoria and the British thought that they were educating the heathen and providing them with just governance. They believed in what they were doing and the empire. We now appreciate that sticking ones nose in other peoples business is ill informed. However, where we have been the British have indeed left a good system. The strife that some former colonies find themselves in is mainly due the British leaving.

            You still have not answered my question why you consider yourself a fit person to offer any view on China.

          • george

            That sums it up well. As I said, I believe that World leaders and business men all see the ‘Putong Hua’ on the wall and I believe they will act accordingly.

          • george

            I am really only interested in the Chinese psyche today. It is callous and power driven. In China there is no shame in being disadvantaged by someone more powerful, it is ingrained. China will use any power it has to bully or worse. Chinese yearn for the days when their country had power. Fully 90% of the TV programs are about emperors and their courts or about War. Dozens of Channels about war at any one time. People need to be aware of what they are dealing with. I think Western countries are getting a new understanding about China. That pleases me greatly.

          • Young

            Again superficial. If you have ever read the long history, you would have realized that strict rule is nothing new and in fact had been worse in past dynasties, who even then had to rule to what amounted to overstretch of government control. Lack of knowing history provides a superficial understanding of their culture and their “psyche”. George C. Kennan was a man that truly understood the Slavic Russian from their time as primitive peoples, to the period of when the Varyag (Viking) dominated them, to huge Greek influences, and the Mongol yoke. Each experience has shaped the Russian to what they are today. From that knowledge he formed the strategy of containment, to be specific to the USSR which in reality in his words was at its core was a continuation of past Russian strategies. The Chinese have never been mobilized as a central controlled military and historically the generals of the imperial army would become warlords upon the collapse of the dynasty. Latest example was after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. Even now region military districts have PLA generals form their own alumni organization influencing politics aligned in that manner. Finally in Chinese culture, they historically are materialists and formed many of the early concepts of capitalism that would filter into the West. This included fiat currency (the worlds first use of paper to print money), banking institutions used along the Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty, etc. Yet history has always shown that it created the condition of severe economic disparity. Dynasties in the past all followed the same pattern of strict central political control, while left commercial activity alone but Darwinian. The Communist Party didn’t return to this historical default until the late 1970s when the Communist experiment failed. Finally, mass media has always been superficial and escapist. If policies and strategy is to be driven by that, then expect utter catastrophe. The Chinese are that way as it was their history that shaped them that way, manifesting them to the culture they are, what they are and are not capable, and what their strategic interests are or not. To claim oneself as an expert without studying their long history is lazy and incompetent.

          • george

            You give lots of colorful information but do not seem to really understand what you are talking about, least ways as regards the Chinese psyche. Assuming you are not a ‘wu mao dang’, have you lived in China, experienced anything in fact. Have you seen or witnessed their family life or done business deals with them, navigated the corrupt structures, seen xing hui paid and received.  Apart from reading books what is your connection exactly and why do you think you can give an objective assessment?

          • Young

            Another straw man argument. You have what the Prussians would say reminiscences but no real experiences as you have no context but the superficial veneer. Tour guides have been in China longer than you state but that doesn’t make them qualified for statecraft now does it.

          • george

            Do not prevaricate, answer my questions, what makes you qualified to have an opinion on the Chinese
            psyche? If you think 15 years of living in China and experiencing first
            hand is ‘straw’ experience then you will have no credence anywhere.

          • Young

            How can someone who claims 15 years experience mistake the Mongol to be the same as a Chinese? Sorry but there is no point to discuss someone that lacks real knowledge.

          • Young

            BTW you also committed the logical fallacy of pleading to the audience, appeal to accomplishment, and genetic fallacy.

          • george

            You are truly an empty vessel. You offer no qualifications for your views on China at all and cannot be taken seriously. Your intent seems to be to discredit those who have. I give one more chance to put forth your credentials or I will assume you are a mere paid 50c troll.
            The Chinese will push to the limit any military advantage they obtain. To my great satisfaction the West is already countering this.

    • Don Bacon

      China values power? Funny thing, China hasn’t invaded any other country like the Western countries regularly do.

      China had an advanced civilization for thousands of years when Americans were still running around in loincloths with spears and war-paint.

      • george

        Their whole culture is built on power and passive aggression. You are
        driving, you leave a gap 3 yards long and somebody will push in if they
        can. The point here is ‘if they can’ The person disadvantaged does not
        get angry, there is no road rage in China, he just thinks ‘uh, I left a
        gap’. At every level if a person has the power to do something he
        will. What you interpret as humility is nothing of the sort, it is an ingrained acceptance of this status quo. They do not say thank you, or please. Part of the same pattern.

        For my part I hope they never have military power over us.

  • Young

    “The expansion of China is an important subject in history, but its limit was reached long ago. . . . The area of the original centre of China was very limited, but its sphere of influence and activity gradually spread, generation after generation, as its civilization developed and extended to the surrounding regions. . . . The one peculiarity of this extension is that, roughly speaking, it has not been the result of aggressive conquest. China has always been on the defensive, and it is the surrounding peoples who have always assumed the offensive against her.”

    Baron Suematsu Kenchō 1905

    • Joseph DeMartino Jr.

      Tell that to the Tibetans.

      • Mike

        Well said…. One has to be concerned by the fact that the Chinese have the fastest growing military budget in the world… If one doesn’t believe that that growth is aimed at world domination, perhaps they need to reread the history of Europe from the 1930’s into the 1940’s…

    • george

      Young is a young Chinese guy from college whose IQ has a long way to go to catch up to his ego. He loves playing sophist games because scoring points is more important to him than the truth. Ignore the clown.

  • Mike

    One might ask one’s self if the world is safer today since Nixon embraced the Chinese, or is it not?…..

    Few know that when our troops invaded France in WW ll, we found
    the newest Ford turbo charged diesel engines powering many of the destroyed German tanks. They were sold to the Nazis by some of the most powerful families in America who cared only that they were making a buck.

    Those same people thought they could build factories in China and make a buck, again at great expense to the average working American. Neither worked well.. Those short term gains by our rich and powerful later proved disastrous in the long run to the average American.

    One might consider reading “The Bear and The Dragon”, by Tom Clancy. Mr. Clancy wrote that book over 13 years ago…….

    • Joseph DeMartino Jr.

      Ford factories had been in Germany pre-war, genius. they were taken over by hitler, much like our oil rigs were by hugo chavez a few years ago. ford had no real choice in the matter.

      • Mike

        Do your homework, genius!… Those turbocharged Ford Diesel engines were cutting edge and available only in the United States. They were shipped to Belgium to an American subsituary, then that Belguim company sold them to the Nazis. The serial numbers on the engines were followed back to the U.S. Interestingly, those powerful people were never charged or brought to trial for Treason

        • Joseph DeMartino Jr.

          Do you have any actual EVIDENCE of this, or are these just things you over heard at your local tinfoil hat club?

          And I’m being serious, I’d like to see one article about advanced ford motors being smuggled into Nazi Germany at a time when Germany’s local industries were already producing some of the most advance machines of the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Everett/1031257371 Jack Everett

    American greedy business concerns made Modern China what it is today. America continues to cause international harm with it’s expansionism in every part of the world. The problems in this part of the world is between China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam and America should mind it’s own business for a change and stay out of it. It’s Americas insatiable greed that forced Russia and China to make defense agreements when they were traditional enemies. It’s American greed that started a cold war with Russia when their was no need for it. Americas economic problems did not start with Nixon they started with our corporate politicians being allowed to create an economy in communist China to create more bloated profits and allow China the economic power to build up a modern military machine. Just like with Hitler American business will sacrifice everything America has stood for through their insatiable greed at the expense of good American lives.

    • fu

      wow, another 50 cent shill who thinks he can trick us into believing he’s American by using a fake English name.