Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Navy Chief Surprised at China's Refusal of Port Visit for U.S. Ships

"Two of the Navy's top admirals said Tuesday that China's refusal to permit a U.S. aircraft carrier to make a Thanksgiving port call at Hong Kong was surprising and troubling.

"This is perplexing. It's not helpful," Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters in a videoteleconference from his headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

"It's not, in our view, conduct that is indicative of a country that understands its obligations as a responsible nation," he said, adding that he hopes it does not indicate a lasting blockage of port visits.

The USS Kitty Hawk, which has its home port near Tokyo, was forced to return early to Japan when Chinese authorities at the last minute refused to let the warship and its escort vessels enter Hong Kong harbor.

Keating said that by the time the Chinese acted, hundreds of family members of sailors aboard the Kitty Hawk had already flown to Hong Kong from their homes in Japan to join in the port visit.

Asked about seeking an explanation from the Chinese, Keating said he had heard nothing from Chinese military authorities and that it would be a matter for the State Department to pursue. He said he did not expect the Chinese to apologize. Adm. Gary Roughead, in his first Pentagon interview since becoming the chief of naval operations eight weeks ago, described the Chinese action as disruptive.

"That was surprising and not helpful," Roughead said. "The Kitty Hawk had been planning to go in there and it was disruptive to many people's plans."

Roughead, who was commander of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific before he replaced Adm. Mike Mullen as chief of naval operations on Sept. 29, said he was even more troubled by China's refusal, several days before the Kitty Hawk incident, to let two U.S. Navy minesweepers enter Hong Kong harbor to escape an approaching storm and receive fuel. The minesweepers, the Patriot and the Guardian, were instead refueled at sea and returned safely to their home port in Japan, he said.

"As someone who has been going to sea all my life, if there is one tenet that we observe it's when somebody is in need you provide (assistance) and you sort it out later," the admiral said. "And that, to me, was more bothersome, so I look forward to having discussions with the PLA navy leadership," he said, referring to the People's Liberation Army.

Keating made a similar point. He called the denial in the case of the minesweeping ships "a different kettle of fish for us — in some ways more disturbing, more perplexing" than the Kitty Hawk case because the Chinese action violated an unwritten international code for assisting ships in distress.

Keating said he still plans to visit China in mid-January to discuss, among other things, ways to strengthen U.S.-China military relations.

Roughead said China's actions would not stop the U.S. Navy from seeking future port visits to Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong remains a very welcoming place for our sailors to be when they get there and it remains one of the world's great cities where sailors for centuries have gone, and it's still part of the draw of why young men and women choose to do what we do. It will remain a port of interest," he said."

The highlighted paragraph says all that need be contemplated. The Chins find themselves a barbaric country having great difficulties assuming the guise of a responsible, modern nation. Because they are not a responsible, modern nation, and no amount of trade monies can magically make it so. A house of cards awaiting the slightest jolt to topple, a nation playacting at freedom and democracy while firmly rooted in the 5th Century. Sound familiar? Oil money has hoisted Arabia by its bootstraps, foregoing the normal run of events that leads a people to modernism. Tyrannical dictatorships with their feet planted firmly in the past, neither entity can be welcomed into the brotherhood of civilization until their people can call themselves free. At least Arabia has contributed something to the growth and prosperity of humankind, albeit not lately, but China has never bequeathed the world anything of worth, and please now, the fortune-cookie Sun Tsu proclamations of all things painfully obvious doesn't count.

Of course they still don't know how to act. Believing otherwise in instances such as the rhubarb over our aircraft carrier being denied entry into Hong Kong bespeaks a lack of sophistication rivaling that of the Chinese themselves.

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