A top Chinese general Thursday strongly defended Beijing’s territorial claims over disputed islands in the South and East China Seas and charged that the U.S. rebalance of forces to the Pacific was encouraging unrest in the region.
Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, said “the rebalancing strategy of the U.S. has stirred up some of the problems which make the South China Sea and the East China Sea not so calm as before.”
Fang warned that China would respond to any attempts by Vietnam, Japan or other neighbors to assert their own claims over the disputed islands and reefs.
“We do not create trouble but we are not afraid of trouble,” Fang said at a Pentagon news conference after meetings with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dempsey appeared to be slightly irritated as he waited to comment while listening to a long-winded response by Fang on the current dispute with Vietnam over offshore oil drilling rights.
“We’ll go because we can and should, and we’ll go because we have to,” Dempsey said of the rebalance. Dempsey also told Fang “We will respond to threats.”
However, Dempsey mostly stuck to his long-held position that the U.S. must build better military-to-military relations with China to avoid miscalculations that could lead to conflict in the region.
Fang also made China’s case in a separate dispute over disputed reefs and shoals with the Philippines, and accused Japan of reverting to World War II militarism in asserting its claims to disputed uninhabited islands called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.
Fang said the Japanese claims were also encouraged by the U.S. rebalance of forces. “This is something that we can never agree (upon),” Fang said.
Full article: Dempsey Clashes with Chinese General On Pacific (Military.com)