WASHINGTON - A top U.S. commander says China's "aggressive and troublesome" run-in with an unarmed American ship shows that Beijing won't behave acceptably.
Adm. Timothy Keating told senators that Beijing's suspension of military contact last year because of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the South China Sea confrontation are "vivid reminders" that it has yet to become a "responsible stakeholder."
The U.S. has pushed for more frequent and intense communications with China to avoid military confrontations that could upset a relationship crucial to solving global crises. But Keating, who heads the Pacific Command, said the bilateral military relationship "certainly isn't where we want it to be."
The United States says its Navy survey vessel was harassed and threatened by Chinese-flagged trawlers in international waters; China claims the U.S. ship was conducting surveillance within its exclusive economic zone.
Keating said the Chinese behaved in an "aggressive and troublesome manner" and are "not willing to abide by acceptable standards of behavior." In his written testimony he said the actions were "unlawful and dangerous."
President Barack Obama last week signaled a need for more frequent and intense communications with China to avoid military confrontations that could upset a relationship crucial to solving global crises.
The United States has also pushed for China to allow port visits and more contact between the countries' officers and for China to provide more information about its huge military spending.
Said Keating: "A mature, constructive, military to military relationship is hardly a reality today." He added that military contacts with the People's Liberation Army "fell short of expectations in 2008."
Keating also said that a slight warming of relations between Taiwan and China is a good sign and shows the region is "somewhat stable."
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