Friday, August 24, 2007

Cambodian Defense Minister meets with both US and Chinese officials

China’s military build-up could threaten security: US

PHNOM PENH: The region’s top US military commander on Tuesday expressed concern over China’s rapid military build-up, just days after an unprecedented display of Beijing’s firepower during war games with Russia.

“China professes to be advocating a peaceful rise”, said Admiral Timothy J Keating, head of the US Pacific Command, during his first official trip to Cambodia, where he met with senior defence officials.

“Some of the systems they’re developing and some of the capabilities that they’re demonstrating would indicate to us that perhaps their intentions aren’t exactly beneficial to security throughout the pacific”, he said. “So we’re watching carefully,” he added after talks with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Bahn. Cambodia has in recent years become a stronger focus for both Washington and Beijing. China, a former patron of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, continues to eclipse the impoverished country’s other donors with hundreds of millions of dollars in largely-unconditional aid.

Just moments before Keating’s arrival at Cambodia’s defence ministry, Chinese ambassador Zhang Jin Feng was seen leaving with a delegation of senior Chinese military officials.

Zhang divulged little about her talks, and Keating downplayed the ambassador’s appearance, and said that his visit to Cambodia this week was not to counter Beijing’s regional military influence.

“I don’t view my visit as offsetting anyone else’s. We’re anxious to have more transparency with China,” he said. “We are not competing against the People’s Republic of China militarily.” But after years in the diplomatic wilderness, Cambodia’s star has abruptly begun to rise with the United States.

US chief visit: The United States and China have begun to ease suspicion over their military intentions but uncertainties persist over Beijing’s long-term goals, a senior US military official said on Tuesday.

US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen said after meetings with top Chinese commanders and a visit to a naval training base that he had developed a better grasp of Beijing’s military modernisation. “There’s a long way to go, but I’m reassured,” he told reporters during a visit to meet Chinese defence and foreign policy officials. “I’m very encouraged about their commitment to continuing to improve this relationship.”

“It really is that long-term-where-are-you-going question that is one we need to continue to just reach a better understanding of,” he said.

China says its growing military strength is a force for peace that does not threaten any other country. But across the region some worry that Beijing’s military plans could risk war over Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing says is part of its territory, or destabilise East Asia.

Mullen said Taiwan came up in talks, but nothing new was said. The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognising “one China”, but is obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help the island defend itself in case of attack. Mullen said China’s navy appeared to be a mix of old and new and that he had noticed it had developed new ships and what he called “very capable submarines”. agencies

My comments: Further thoughts and information about this 'dance' can be found here at:

Cambodia, Security and American Oil Interests

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