Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Visit of Top US Navy Admiral to China Forestalls Chinese Military Response to Arbitration Ruling


(Photo : US Navy) Adm. John Richrdson and Adm. Wu Shengli

The U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson will visit China from July 17 to 20 to meet with Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

It will be the first person-to-person meeting between the two leaders whose navies teeter on the brink of war over China's illegal claim to own most of the South China Sea. A United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration last July 12 declared illegal China's claims to the South China Sea and found China had infringed the territorial rights of the Philippines.

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The goal of Adm. Richardson's three-day visit to Beijing and Qingdao (headquarters of PLAN's North Sea Fleet defending Beijing) is to improve mutual understanding and encourage professional interaction between the U.S. Navy and the PLAN.

High on their agenda will be tensions in the South China Sea; the ongoing Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and future opportunities for the two navies to operate together.

This is Adm. Richardson's first visit to China as CNO. Over the last year, however, the two admirals have held three discussions via video teleconference to ease tensions.

The U.S. Navy CNO is the most senior naval officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. He is a military adviser to the President, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense.

"I have been looking forward to this trip and to meeting Admiral Wu for some time," said Adm. Richardson, 55.

"These are important times for our two navies and for maritime forces throughout the region. As we seek to learn from each other, there is no substitute for these types of face-to-face meetings."

While in Beijing, Adm. Richardson will visit PLAN headquarters and meet with senior Chinese defense officials. In Qingdao, he is scheduled to visit the PLAN's submarine academy and tour the aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV-16).

Adm. Wu, 70, was appointed Commander of the PLAN in August 2006. He took charge of expanding the PLAN from a brown water navy confined to coastal patrols to a blue water navy with worldwide reach.

Under his watch, the PLAN first deployed a counter-piracy task force overseas, to the Gulf of Aden in 2008, and conducted the successful 60th Anniversary Fleet Review in 2009. He also oversaw the commissioning of Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, in 2012.

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