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US general aims to ease China's concerns over Obama 'pivot' to Asia

China is deeply suspicious of US intent in its 'pivot' to Asia, and US Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Beijing this week to try to reassure China's military – and its people.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey (l.) and Chinese counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui salute during a welcoming ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Monday.

Andy Wong/AP

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Easing China's concerns over the Pentagon's strategic "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific is high on the agenda of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his visit to Beijing this week for the highest-level military talks between the two superpowers in two years.

It is a concerted campaign to win hearts and minds, and in that regard, General Dempsey has much with which to contend. 

After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military is wagering that a focus on the other side of the globe is a better use of its resources. Senior US defense officials insist that this move is in no way a reaction to China’s ascendant military might. 

China, on the other hand, sees it differently – namely, as a bit of an incursion on its turf.

A white paper released earlier this month by China’s People's Liberation Army warns ominously, if elliptically, that “some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding military presence in the region, and frequently making the situation there tenser.”


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