US, China can work together to cool disputes

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-8 21:03:01

Gary Roughead

Editor's Note:

There have been talks about China's maritime role along with the nation's rise. How will the US respond to this? Does it want to share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region? Global Times (GT) reporter Chen Chenchen talked to Gary Roughead (Roughead), a retired US admiral who was formerly the chief of naval operations and commander of the US pacific fleet. He is now an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

GT: What's the US' bottom line in the South China Sea? Under what circumstances would the US use armed forces against China?

Roughead: That's a very speculative question. The most important thing is that we look at how we resolve these issues peacefully, and being able while we are working on the resolution, to make sure that the forces that are operating in that region, whether it's China's, that of the Philippines, Vietnam, or any of the participant countries, develop ways to communicate with one another. The objective is to not get to the point of conflict, so that's what I think where the emphasis must be, instead of speculating on what the future can be.

It's also important that China better defines the nine-dash line, and what it means. It's a very confusing concept because it doesn't have a basis in international law at all. Those are some of the things to work on.

GT: It's reported by the New York Times in February that Japanese soldiers received training in the US to practice retaking islands. Does that mean the US sides with Japan in the island disputes in the East China Sea?

Roughead: It's clear that because of our alliance with Japan and our treaty with Japan, we stand by Japan. That said, we believe that, as with the South China Sea, these issues should be resolved peacefully.

In most cases, in the East China Sea, it is not navies that are operating close to one another. It is the coast guards and the maritime patrols. Those are organizations that I believe also should develop paths of communications and protocols that can be used to bring the temperature down, and look at what will happen if something occurs.

We have to put in place mechanisms that allow problems to be discussed, resolved, for the forces operating there to be able to talk to one another.

Therefore, when there is an accident, the leadership can quickly bring down the temperature.

GT: What's the next move of the US 'pivot' to Asia, since the US forces are now being dragged back into the Middle East?

Roughead: If you look at our involvement in the Middle East, it's much less than it has been for the last 13 years. So in point of fact, we have more forces that are available than we had five or 10 years ago. If you look at the forces that we have in Asia, they have been relatively the same.

GT: Will the US share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region?

Roughead: We all along have been looking for a very cooperative and collaborative way to allow peace and prosperity to be achieved. If you look at what the US has done in the last couple of years for example, it has been reaching out to China, building better relationships with the PLA. For the first time the PLA participated in the RIMPAC exercises, and for the first time Admiral Wu Shengli went to the International Seapower Symposium.

I think these are the ways of reaching out and cooperating. It's very important that in the coming years these activities continue and China reaches out to the US and other countries to involve them in the activities in China. That cannot just be a one-way street.

GT: Does that mean the US has bid farewell to the zero-sum mentality?

Roughead: I think our approach has always been to look at ways to cooperate and work together in the broader Asia-Pacific region. And I call it the Indo-Pacific region, because more and more it's the case that the Indian Ocean will be very important.

Posted in: Viewpoint, Dialogue

blog comments powered by Disqus