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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND NOMINEE PROMISES ENGAGEMENT WITH CHINA

Central News Agency

2007-03-09 13:48:22

    Washington, March 8 (CNA) The admiral nominated to serve as the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific said Thursday that if his nomination is confirmed, he will pursue robust engagement with China to help defuse tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

    Navy Adm. Timothy Keating said during a confirmation hearing at the Senate that if the U.S. military deals with some frequency at several levels with the Chinese, holds exercises with them, and ensures the Chinese are aware of its capabilities and intent, this will go a long way toward diffusing tension across the Taiwan Strait. "If confirmed, I'd intend to pursue a series of robust engagement with, principally, the People's Liberation Army of China, not just in terms of frequency but in terms of complexity, " Keating said at the hearing. "We'd engage in exercises of some sophistication and frequency, and we would pay close attention to the development of their weapon systems and their capabilities with a weather eye on whether they intend to use those against Taiwan," he further said.

    Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and a ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, asked Keating that given the possibility of political or military miscalculation between China and Taiwan, what role the U.S. military can play in trying to reduce cross-strait tensions.

    Keating answered that if he assumes the post, those relations and sustaining the calm that appears to pervade today across the Taiwan Strait will be a principal goal of his at the Pacific Command.

    In response to questions by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) , who asked Keating about his own view on the challenges involving cross-Taiwan Strait relations and the U.S. policy toward the two Chinas, Keating said that in dealing with the People's Republic of China and with the government of Taiwan, "we would emphasize that China has to be very careful in the development of offensive weapons. We want to sustain Taiwan's notion of a defensive front from their military capabilities." "We would encourage increased dialogue between those two countries on an informal basis. And we're not unaware of the burgeoning economic engine that is trade across the Taiwan Strait, " he continued. "So we would encourage all those positive signs. We will do our best to make sure that both sides are aware of our close observation of developments. And we would do our best to sustain the harmony that does appear to be the situation across the Taiwan Strait today, " Keating said.

(By Chiehyu Lin and Deborah Kuo)

ENDITEM/Li



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