Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will head to China this weekend for a three-day visit with the military leaders of the rising power.
Richardson will sit down with members of the Central Military Commission as well as Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army (Navy).
He will stop in Beijing and Nanjing, with a focus on a “results-oriented, risk reduction” dialogue, according to a Navy release.
Richardson should have plenty to discuss with his counterparts because his visit comes during a time of rising tensions for both countries.
Beijing’s forces continue to assert themselves in the South China Sea, a move countered by U.S. Navy freedom of navigation operations, or FONOPs, that are designed to demonstrate the unfettered flow of vessels through what have long been regarded as international waters.
Last year, the guided-missile destroyer Decatur was nearly broadsided by a Chinese warship during a Sept. 30 FONOP near contested reefs that are occupied by Beijing’s troops but also are claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Chinese hackers are believed to have raided the computer files of Navy contractors and made off with everything from ship maintenance records to missile plans.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer warned last year about the telecommunications company Huawei showing up in military contracts.
Due to security concerns, the federal government moved to restrict Huawei’s operations in the United States and the Pentagon ordered military exchanges to stop selling electronics made by Huawei and its Chinese competitor, ZTE.
The economic giants also continue to tussle in a trade war, although talks continued this week in Beijing to find an end to the stalemate.
While Richardson met with Shen last year during the International Seapower Symposium the CNO hosted in Newport, Rhode Island, the Navy also booted China from last summer’s massive Rim of the Pacific exercises in the Pacific Ocean.
Richardson and Shen have also held three discussions via video, the most recent occurring last month.
“I am looking forward to this trip,” Richardson said in the Navy release. “A routine exchange of views is essential, especially in times of friction, in order to reduce risk and avoid miscalculation. Honest and frank dialogue can improve the relationship in constructive ways, help explore areas where we share common interests, and reduce risk while we work through our differences.”
Richardson first traveled to China in 2016 for a similar visit.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.