Archive for the ‘Kitty Hawk’ Category

China Flexing Newly Developed Muscle

January 2, 2008

By Gordon G. Chang
The Wall Street Journal
January 2, 2008

The U.S. Navy said it was “befuddled” by Beijing’s last-minute November denial of a long-arranged port call for the Kitty Hawk carrier group in Hong Kong. This turndown was on top of China’s refusal to provide shelter for two U.S. minesweepers seeking refuge from a storm, and its rejection of a routine visit for a frigate, the Reuben James. The Air Force also received a “no” for a regular C-17 flight to resupply the American consulate in Hong Kong.

The immediate causes of these rebuffs may be American arms sales to Taiwan, which China regards as sovereign territory, and the ….

Go to The Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119923886057561427.html

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SecDef Gates sees division in Chinese actions

December 22, 2007

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
December 22, 2007

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that recent military incidents involving the U.S. and China indicate troubling signs of division between Beijing’s military and the nation’s communist political leaders.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs ...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, takes part in a news conference at the Pentagon, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Heesoon Yim)

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China’s refusal to permit U.S. Navy ship visits to Hong Kong last month and a provocative anti-satellite weapon test in January are prompting U.S. intelligence agencies to worry that the Chinese military is not under the control of the civilian government in Beijing, according to other defense officials.

Mr. Gates voiced similar concerns yesterday when asked by a reporter whether China had explained why it barred the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and accompanying warships from making a Thanksgiving Day port call in Hong Kong.

“What has been interesting to me this year is that I think we have had two situations in which there appears to have been a disconnect within the Chinese government,” Mr. Gates said.

After the Chinese military’s successful January test of a missile against a weather-satellite target, China’s Foreign Ministry “didn’t seem to understand or know what had happened” and indicated “confusion” over the test, he said.

“We seem to have had a little bit of the same thing with the Kitty Hawk, where the military may have made a decision that was not communicated to the political side of the government,” Mr. Gates said. “Now, I don’t know that for a fact, but there’s just some hint of that.”

A senior defense official said that Chinese President Hu Jintao was familiar with China’s secret anti-satellite weapon program but may not have known about the Jan. 11 test, which contradicted China’s public position against the development and deployment of space weapons.

A senior U.S. military officer said there also were signs earlier this year that senior Chinese air force generals were not aware of the existence of the anti-satellite weapons program, which is thought to be a top-secret effort directed by the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. It is led by Mr. Hu as chairman and has two senior Chinese generals as vice chairmen.

Intelligence officials are said to disagree over the analysis of a Chinese leadership split, with pro-China analysts citing a split as explaining hostile Chinese behavior as the result of differences between hawks and doves. A similar analysis during the Cold War sought to explain Soviet behavior, though post-Cold War analysis showed the appearance to be deliberate disinformation.

Still, worries over suspected divisions in China’s leadership are prompting concerns about the control over China’s nuclear arsenal, which is currently expanding in both quantity and quality, defense officials said. China’s military is deploying three new types of advanced, long-range nuclear missiles and a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.

Chinese military leaders so far have not agreed to U.S. government requests for talks on strategic nuclear weapons, despite a promise made by Mr. Hu to President Bush last year to send the commander of China’s nuclear forces to visit the United States and the military’s U.S. Strategic Command. China’s military leaders are said to fear that talks on nuclear forces with the U.S. will lead to disclosures of information that could be used against China in a conflict.

U.S. intelligence agencies know very little about the forces and command-and-control arrangements for China’s nuclear weapons, which are estimated to include about 20 long-range nuclear missiles and several hundred shorter-range, nuclear-capable missiles.

Mr. Gates said that China is continuing its military buildup but that he does not consider China “an enemy.”

“I think there are opportunities for continued cooperation in a number of areas,” he said. “I still think it’s important for us to develop the strategic dialogue with China where we sit down and talk about how we see the threat, how each of us perceives the threat and the purpose behind our modernization programs and so on.”

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military, said Mr. Gates’ comments on a possible split among Chinese leader is a cause for concern and should be clarified.

“If such a split is real, then he should also explain if there is a danger of a [military] coup against the party,” said Mr. Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “Such a coup could lead to a PLA-led war against Taiwan for ‘national unity,’ a war that could easily escalate into a nuclear exchange.”

Mr. Fisher said he knows of disturbing reports of tensions between the ruling Communist Party and the military over efforts by Mr. Hu to crack down on corruption in the military.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who appeared with Mr. Gates, also said he wants to develop closer lines of communication with the Chinese military to avoid misunderstandings over issues like the Kitty Hawk, the anti-satellite test and Taiwan.

Asked about tensions between China and Taiwan over Taipei’s plan to hold a nationwide vote seeking United Nations membership under the name Taiwan, instead of the formal Republic of China, Mr. Gates said he is not worried “there will be a military reaction.”

Mr. Gates also called “specious” claims in the Chinese and U.S. press that the reason the Kitty Hawk was blocked from Hong Kong was Chinese anger that the defense secretary had not warned Chinese military leaders during his visit to China in October that the Pentagon was set to sell upgraded Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan.

Pentagon makes official protest to China

November 28, 2007

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press 

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon issued a formal protest to China on Wednesday over its refusal to permit U.S. Navy ships to enter the port of Hong Kong on two occasions last week.

“We are expressing officially our displeasure with the incident,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters. He said a Chinese military officer who is Beijing‘s defense attache in Washington was called to the Pentagon to accept the protest from a Pentagon Asia policy official. Morrell called it an “a formal protest, an official protest, complaint,” for refusing port entry for two U.S. Navy minesweepers and, later, for the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying battle group.

Also, the Chinese foreign minister met with President Bush on Wednesday and blamed the incident on “a misunderstanding.”

Morrell said that it is not yet clear whether the Chinese military officer will indeed heed the summons to come to the Pentagon. Morrell said the summons constituted the official protest, but he did not release the wording.

Navy officials have said they are most troubled by China’s refusal to let the two 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.

In addition, the Chinese also refused to allow the Kitty Hawk, a U.S. aircraft carrier, to make a planned Thanksgiving port visit to Hong Kong.

The Kitty Hawk, which has its home port near Tokyo, was forced to return early to Japan when Chinese authorities at the last minute barred the warship and its escort vessels from entering Hong Kong harbor. Hundreds of families of sailors aboard the Kitty Hawk had flown from Japan to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Hong Kong, but had to return home after China refused the port entry.

Later Chinese officials said the Kitty Hawk could enter the port, but by then the carrier had left the area and did not return.

On Tuesday, two of the Navy’s top admirals said that China’s refusal 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. He also called it distressing and irritating but later said it should not be viewed as “calamitous.”

“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.

China’s foreign minister, in the meeting with Bush, blamed “a misunderstanding” for the refusal to allow a flotilla of U.S. warships to make a port call in Hong Kong for a Thanksgiving holiday visit.

Bush raised the issue with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi when he visited the Oval Office for talks about North Korea, Iran and other issues. The incident added an unusual twist to China-U.S. relations, strained in recent months by disputes over trade and Iran’s nuclear program.

“Foreign Minister Yang assured the president that it was a misunderstanding,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. She said she could not explain the nature of the misunderstanding.

The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and members of its strike group, including a nuclear submarine, were scheduled to dock in Hong Kong for a four-day visit. At the same time hundreds of sailors’ families had flown to the city to spend the holiday with loved ones, dozens of Americans living in Hong Kong had prepared turkey dinners for those without relatives.

Hong Kong has long been a favored port of call for the U.S. military but Beijing‘s approval has been required since July 1, 1997, when Britain handed this former colony back to China. Hong Kong’s Marine Department, which handles logistic arrangements for ships docking in Hong Kong’s deep-water port, said it had not received the documentation it normally would receive from other agencies clearing the arrival of foreign military ships.

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Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this story.