Thursday, May 17, 2007

"We them"

Having previously written about the strategic and political questions surrounding China's rumored aircraft carrier program, I found this VOA article (hat tip: China Digital Times) on Admiral Keating's visit to China fascinating.

VOA reports that Keating discussed the operational difficulties of deploying and maintaining aircraft carriers with Vice Admiral Wu Shengli of the PLAN — but not necessarily as a way of dissuading China from developing aircraft carriers.

Rather, Keating apparently said that if China is determined to develop an aircraft carrier, the US will offer its assistance: "It is not an area where we would want any tension to arise unnecessarily...and we would, if they choose to develop [an aircraft carrier program] help them to the degree that they seek and the degree that we're capable, in developing their programs."

With the US offering help to the PLAN in developing aircraft carriers, does anyone still think that the region's security environment can be neatly summarized as the US seeking to build up a coalition to contain China?

I think Keating's suggestion contains a certain logic. US help in building a blue-water navy reinforces the idea that a Chinese blue-water navy need not be a threat to US interests, because the US and China share an interest in keeping maritime Asia stable and open.

I wonder, though, what Japan thinks about Keating's offer.

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