The Navy’s top officer stressed the importance of his personal relationship with his Chinese Navy counterpart and in continuing a dialogue to minimize the risks from the obvious tensions between the two most powerful Pacific naval forces.
“I don’t think there is any question that we’re in a competition and there are going to be areas where we’re going to have tensions,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said Jan. 28. He cited the South China Sea as a particular area of “disagreements,” obviously referring to China’s claims of territorial authority over virtually all of the large, heavily transited international waterway.
But in response to a question from the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, Richardson that while “I think there are a lot” of tensions, “I have a good working relationship with my counterpart,” Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Richardson cited Shen’s visit and speech to last September’s International Seapower Symposium at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and Richardson’s recent visit to China. He said the Chinese Navy officials “were open to everything we asked. I had a very rich visit.”
He strongly endorsed “this idea of continuing to meet, to communicate, to get a better understanding of each other’s intent.”