Foreign Policy Situation Report
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
By Paul McLeary with Ariel Robinson
He’s kind of a big deal. One of China’s top military officials, Gen. Fan Changlong, arrived in the United States on Monday for a weeklong trip that will culminate in the full red carpet treatment at the Pentagon.
But while Fan’s public welcome from Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday may be warm, U.S. officials say that behind closed doors, the gloves are going to come off. Carter plans to again deliver the message that Washington doesn’t like the land reclamation efforts that China is undertaking in the South China Sea.
During the Shangri-La security conference in Singapore last week, Carter said that “turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty,” or allow a country to push air or maritime borders outward. It was a rebuke to Chinese claims that a rock is an island, and an island is sovereign territory.
But the Chinese delegation will be busy doing things other than ignoring American objections to their policy. They’ll head to San Diego to tour the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and check out the Naval Station North Island and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. They’ll also stop by Fort Hood in Texas, and it’s believed Fan will tour a Boeing factory in Seattle.