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China proposed division of Pacific, Indian Ocean regions, we declined: PACOM chief

China proposed division of Pacific, Indian Ocean regions, we declined: PACOM chief

Author: Manu Pubby
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 15, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/china-proposed-division-of-pacific-indian-ocean-regions-we-declined-us-admiral/459851/0

In a startling disclosure, a top US Admiral has revealed that China offered to divide the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions between China and the US after Beijing launched its own fleet of aircraft carriers.

The offer was made by an unnamed top Chinese Navy officer while discussing the country's ongoing aircraft carrier programme, one of the senior-most officers of the US military, Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Timothy J Keating said. He added that the incident was disclosed to Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta during their meeting on Thursday.

Keating said that the offer, which was made somewhat "tongue in cheek" was declined by the US but the top Chinese officer indicated that Beijing would pursue the development of aircraft carrier technology.

"We (Keating and Mehta) talked a little about the potential development of a Chinese aircraft carrier. I related (to Mehta) a conversation I had with a senior Chinese Naval officer during which he proposed, in his words, that as China builds aircraft carriers - he said plural - we can make a deal," the PACOM chief said after meeting the top Indian military leadership besides the National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary.

The proposed "deal" envisaged that after China has its own aircraft carriers - it remains the only major naval power currently without such a capability - the Pacific region could be divided into two areas of responsibility.

"(The Chinese officer said) You, the US, take Hawaii East and we, China, will take Hawai West and the Indian Ocean. Then you will not need to come to the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean and we will not need to go to the Eastern Pacific. If anything happens there, you can let us know and if something happens here, we will let you know," Keating recalled.

Keating and Mehta also discussed the recent "aggressive" tactics of Chinese vessels against US Navy warships operating in the East China sea. Calling the tactics, which were described in reports as very close passes and attempts to block US warships by Chinese vessels, as "irresponsible", Keating said that he and Mehta viewed them with "concern".

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