Breakthrough: Chuck Hagel tours China’s aircraft carrier

Breakthrough: Chuck Hagel tours China’s aircraft carrier

[Ed. – Peace is at hand.]

Despite friction over cyber security, officials said China’s decision to invite Hagel aboard its sole aircraft carrier represented a solid step forward in US-China military relations.

The carrier, the Liaoning, symbolises China’s ambition to project naval power far beyond its shores and reflects a military buildup that includes spending on sophisticated anti-ship missiles and submarines.

Reporters were not allowed to accompany Hagel to the carrier, but officials said the Pentagon chief and his delegation got a thorough tour of the ship, including a briefing from the carrier’s skipper and a walk on the flight deck.

After the ship visit, some members of Hagel’s staff were invited to fly from Qingdao to Beijing on a Chinese military cargo plane, officials said. …

On Tuesday, Hagel is scheduled to meet his counterpart General Chang Wanquan in Beijing, two days after warning Beijing against unilateral attempts to settle territorial disputes with its smaller neighbours.

“You cannot go around and redefine boundaries, violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation — whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific, or large nations in Europe,” Hagel said in Tokyo, drawing a parallel with Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

“So I want to talk to our Chinese friends about this.”

His comments underscored a tougher US line in recent months on China’s approach to territorial disagreements in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, after some Southeast Asian countries accused Beijing of intimidatory tactics.

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