Two Giant Pacific Powers Cannot See Eye-to-Eye

January 26, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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China and the United States are plagued by a "strategic mistrust" that hinders relations between the two. That statement was made by Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, in a panel discussion with Dr. Xinjun Zhang, associate professor of public international law, Tsinghua University, Beijing, that was moderated by former Good Morning America host David Hartman. To the audience, that strategic mistrust was evident in the exchange of comments between Zhang and Adm. Keating throughout the panel. Both expressed their country's points of view in direct opposition to each other's. Despite an amicable atmosphere, the two men expressed diametrically opposed views even when they shared the same policy goals. Adm. Keating called for greater understanding through transparency and communication, while Zhang said that China feels threatened by U.S. surveillance ships and aircraft at the edge of its territory. Perhaps issues with North Korea personified the differences best. Both men agreed that their countries' policies aimed at having a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, and both agreed that removing nuclear weapons development from North Korea was essential. However, Adm. Keating emphasized the urgency of quick action before North Korea developed an effective nuclear arsenal, while Zhang called for patience to maintain stability while all sides worked toward the same goal.

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