While it is becoming increasingly clear that tensions between Japan and China (and in fact most of the Asian nations) are escalating; the fact that Admiral Samuel Locklear - commander of US forces in the Pacific - believes "risk calculations are growing," as the two large powers have a disagreement but are not willing to talk to each other, shows this is more than just talk. As The AP reports, Washington's treat obligations to its ally Japan mean it could be sucked into a conflict.
The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific says the tensions between China and Japan are likely to grow unless they talk to each other.
The two Asian powers are at loggerheads over remote islands that are administered by Japan but also claimed by China.
Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters Thursday that "the risk calculation can grow" when two large powers have a disagreement but are not talking to each other.
Locklear said the U.S. has to continue to encourage restraint and professionalism by the two nations' maritime security forces as they operate around the contested islands, and also hope for a diplomatic dialogue.
Washington's treaty obligations to its ally Japan mean it could be sucked into a conflict.
"In many cases, those are young naval officers or young civilian mariners who are out there" making decisions, Locklear said.
The Dec. 5 incident involving USS Cowpens and a Chinese naval ship was "unnecessary," Locklear said, attributing it to "unprofessional" Chinese conduct or a "lack of experience."
China's defense ministry has given few details about the confrontation — the most serious incident between the two navies since 2009 — but said its ship handled it according to operating procedures. Chinese media reports blamed the U.S. ship for getting too close to vessels escorting China's new aircraft carrier Liaoning.
"This just highlights to both of us, to both the PLA and to the U.S. military, that we have to do better at being able to communicate with each other in a way that allows us to not lead to miscalculation," Locklear said, referring to the People's Liberation Army, as China's military is formally known.