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US Pacific tilt not aimed against China: Panetta

Published on Sep 19, 2012 4:52 PM
US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta (left) walks with China's Vice-President Xi Jinping (right) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Sept 19, 2012. --- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - United States (US) Defence Secretary Leon Panetta sought to reassure Beijing on Wednesday over Washington's strategic tilt to the Pacific, telling a military audience it was not an attempt to curb Chinese power.

President Barack Obama, concerned about China's growing military and economic might, has called for a shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific region, with the US Navy planning to station most of its ships in the area. But China has questioned whether the American military's "pivot" to Asia is really about countering Beijing.

"Our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region is not an attempt to contain China. It is an attempt to engage China and expand its role in the Pacific," Mr Panetta said in the Chinese capital.

"It's about creating a new model in the relationship of our two Pacific powers," he told cadets at an armoured force engineering academy. As the world's two largest economies, China and the US must forge stronger ties between their armies to avoid potential conflict or crises, Mr Panetta said.

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