New US navy admiral values China ties

14:07, October 27, 2009      

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Ties with China will be an important task for the new leader of the US navy, who assumed his role over an area that stretches from Hawaii and Alaska to India, Chinese experts said.

Admiral Robert F. Willard became the top US commander in the Asia-Pacific region as head of the US Pacific Command. He succeeds Adm. Timothy Keating, who is retiring.

"This has happened at a vital time in the military relationship between China and the US," said Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based senior military strategist.

"The military ties between the two countries have witnessed a rise and fall in previous years and whether the relationship returns to normalcy will be an important task for the new commander," Peng added.

Willard, who will oversee about 325,000 military and civilian personnel in the US navy, admitted in his blog that China is an important player in the region's waters. "There are some that we're seeking to improve our relations with. One of those is China," Willard wrote in his blog last month.

Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher with the Chinese Navy's Military Academy said Willard's "new tasks vary from the Korean nuclear issue, US-Japan alliance, South China Sea, even including the military actions in Afghanistan - to put the new thought of Obama administration into practice," he said.

Willard has spent the last two years based in Pearl Harbor leading the US Pacific Fleet. He has also served as the commander of the US Seventh Fleet from Japan.

Source: China Daily
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