Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is concerned about China's
recent acquisition of warships with a ``blue water'' capacity,
the admiral in charge of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in Beijing.
``Clearly the growth and capacity of China's navy, its
ability to go into the blue water is very, very clear,'' Admiral
Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a
briefing at the U.S. Embassy in the Chinese capital today.
Roughead is in China to help oversee a joint U.S.-China naval sea
rescue exercise off the south China coast beginning Nov. 19.
Since 2004, China has spent more than $2 billion building or
acquiring from Russia more than a dozen 6,000 or 7,000 ton battle
ships, mostly destroyers, and a dozen kilo-class submarines,
enabling it to ``project power far into the western Pacific,''
said Andrew Yang, a Taipei-based military analyst.
``This gives China the ability to conduct maritime patrols
beyond its coast, beyond Taiwan and all the way deep into the
Western Pacific,'' Yang, who is also secretary general of the
Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, said in a phone
interview today. ``If the building and acquisitions continue at
the current pace, by 2025 China will have a full fledged blue
water capacity and can pressure the U.S. in Asia.''
Roughead said he will be meeting with People's Liberation
Army naval commanders to ``discuss what their vision is and what
their operating doctrine is.'' Specifically, the admiral said he
hoped to learn more about China's naval capability and whether it
has ``intent to do harm.''
The best way to avoid confrontation between the U.S. and
China is to regularly hold joint exercises so officers on both
sides can communicate and build relationships, he said.
``I think more than even our leaders coming together, that
it's more important our younger leaders come together,'' said
Roughead, who refused to comment on a report in the Washington
Times today that a Chinese submarine ``stalked'' a U.S. aircraft
carrier in the Pacific last month.
``I believe there are great values in those relationships,
so that 10 or 15 years from now, our forces can work together, or
perhaps if there is a misunderstanding, that our forces can pick
up the phone and avoid a conflict,'' he said.
The USS Juneau, a forward deployed amphibious transport dock,
and the USS Fitzgerald, a destroyer, and their combined crew of
nearly 700 sailors and officers will participate in the joint
exercises, said Roughead, who wouldn't disclose which Chinese
warships are participating.
The two navies held similar exercises off the coasts of
Hawaii and San Diego in September, the first since the U.S. and
China broke off military contact in 2001 after a U.S. spy plane
and a Chinese jet fighter collided over the South China Sea.
Roughead's visit follows the Sept. 26 talks between U.S.
Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Christopher Henry and People's
Liberation Army Deputy Chief of Staff General Ge Zhenfeng. The
two militaries resumed talks after then U.S. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld visited Beijing in October 2005.
General Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of China's Central
Military Commission, visited the U.S. in July at the invitation
of Rumsfeld, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported at the time.
U.S. and China held their first-ever offshore search and rescue
exercises on Sept. 9 off the coast of California, with two
Chinese naval vessels involved, Xinhua reported.