Tag Archives: Asia pivot

Hagel on the Asian pivot, China, and cyber espionage

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered two messages this morning to the annual Shangri-La Defense Dialogue in Singapore: he reaffirmed the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot,” or “rebalance” of its focus and resources from the Middle East to Asia, and specifically named China as a source of cyber espionage that threatens US and global security.

Hagel called the Asia-Pacific region the emerging “center of gravity” for world population, global trade, and security. Mandatory spending cuts on the Defense Department will not prevent Washington from allocating new resources and increasing its presence in the region, Hagel said. “The world is undergoing a time of historic transformation, and Asia is at the epicenter of that change,” he said.

Increased partnerships and engagement with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific are designed to encourage inclusive, transnational cooperation on the largest problems facing the region, Hagel said. “Relationships, trust, and confidence are what matter most to all nations,” he said.

Hagel put North Korea on notice that the US will not stand by as it makes nuclear threats, calling on the rogue nation to denuclearize and become a responsible member of the world community; and called for territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas to be settled with restraint, without force, and according to international law.

Hagel also named China as a source of cyber espionage targeting military and government secrets, reflecting Washington’s increasing willingness to directly confront China following reports last week of Chinese hackers stealing secrets from US military systems.

“The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said. “We are determined to work more vigorously with China and other partners to establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace.” Continue reading

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Aircraft carrier diplomacy

StennisPhoto

Singapore’s importance in the US “Asia pivot” – or “rebalancing,” as some in foreign policy prefer to call it – is underscored this week by two visits: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s meetings in Washington with President Obama and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, and the docking of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.

The cordial meeting between Obama and Lee at the White House marks strong military ties and cooperation between the two nations, with new rotational deployments of US Navy vessels – as many as four littoral combat ships — in Singapore starting later this month, as the US looks to boost its Asia-Pacific presence. Littoral combat ships are surface vessels designed to operate in shallow waters close to shore, according to a US Embassy media release.

Hagel, hosting PM Lee at the Pentagon, discussed issues including tensions in the South China Sea, and accepted an invitation to speak in Singapore at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which is held May 31 to June 2. Secretary of State John Kerry with visit Northeast Asia next week, amid tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Meanwhile, at Changi Naval Base, visitors over the past few days got to board the USS Stennis, which performs something of a showboat/PR function when it isn’t seeing action (the Stennis launched the final sorties which brought the Iraq War to a close in 2011, and recently completed a five-month tour providing air support to allied troops on the ground in Afghanistan.). As a colleague described it, the carrier is like something out of Top Gun, the size of four football fields, and carries 6,500 crew and airmen at maximum capacity, and 70-plus aircraft. The floating military base leaves Singapore today for Hawaii before heading to its home port in Washington State.

Secretary Kerry and PM Lee make remarks in this newly released video on YouTube.