Admiral John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, is on a long planned visit to China, with the South China Sea at the top of the agenda. A week ago, an international court rejected China's claim to the area. As expected, China rejected the ruling. We have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.
Admiral Richardson's first visit to China as CNO couldn't have come at a better time. Since taking the job last September, he's met his Chinese counterpart three times in videoconferences, but this will be his first chance to engage Admiral Wu Shengli in person. In a statement issued by the Navy ahead of the visit, Admiral Richardson said, "These are important times for our two navies. As we seek to learn from each other, there is no substitute for these face to face meetings."
During the visit, Admiral Richardson will visit China's submarine academy in Qindao and tour the Chinese Navy's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. The two admirals are also set to discuss Rimpac 2016...five Chinese ships are participating in this year's exercises that are underway in and around Hawaii. But there is no question that the South China Sea will dominate their discussions. Over the last few months, the US Navy sent guided missile destroyers through disputed waters three times to challenge Chinese territorial claims. A week ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration changed the entire framework of the issue when it dismissed China's legal claims in a case brought by the Philippines. China argues that the court has no jurisdiction and refuses to accept the ruling...so the two admirals have a great deal to talk about, including whether China will act to reinforce its claims? If so, how? And what might happen the next time the US stages a Freedom of Navigation patrol in the South China Sea.