Adm Keating's tough statements to the Senate Armed Services Committee (Here) (Here) (Here)
"aggressive and troublesome" run-in with an unarmed American ship shows that Beijing is not yet ready to behave acceptably.and
Beijing's suspension of military contact last year because of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and last week's South China Sea confrontation are "vivid reminders" that it has yet to become a "responsible stakeholder."
"unlawful and dangerous."
The above statements seem to be inconsistent with his recent push for a greater cooperation with the Chinese military; in a 2007 visit to China, he famously (here) told Vice Admiral Wu Shengli, PLAN's commander, that United States would be willing to help China to build an aircraft carrier if that is what China decides to do" and ""if something comes up, I'd like to call you."
At the same time, Defense Secretary Gates made some very reconciliatory statements in opposite of what Keating stated above at a Pentagon briefing (Here) (Here)
"I don't think that they're trying to push the 7th Fleet out of that area. And I hope, based on the diplomatic exchanges that have taken place since the aggressive acts against the Impeccable ... that there won't be a repetition of this,"
"And I would like to see us put this behind us, not have another incident like it, and continue that improvement in the relationship."and
"I hope, based on the diplomatic exchanges that have taken place since the aggressive acts against the Impeccable, will mean that there won't be a repetition of this.
Gates later called off the idea of sending US warships to escort "route operations" suggested by Keating last week (here) with this statement: "So it would make it unnecessary to send warships."
Few hours later, the Chinese seems to be happy with the Gates decision and quickly responded with a China Daily article headlined "Sino-US sea standoff appears to have ended". (here)
"It is time to call an end to it," said Li Jie, a senior naval researcher at the Chinese Navy's Military Academy.and
Top commanders do not have plans to increase the military presence in the South China Sea following a confrontation earlier this month between a US spy ship and five Chinese vessels, naval sources told China Daily, also on condition of anonymity.
The US defense chief said on Wednesday that diplomatic exchanges since the confrontation would prevent a similar incident to that of March 8.
Gates yesterday also announced the nomination of Admiral Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific Fleet, to replace Timothy Keating as the commander of US Pacific command. (here)