The rationale behind the arguments against Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert’s offering his Chinese naval counterpart a tour of a U.S. aircraft carrier is intriguing (“U.S. Navy admiral ‘receptive’ to giving Chinese counterpart a tour of carrier,” Web, July 24). I agree with Adm. Greenert’s statement that “offering a tour of a U.S. aircraft carrier to Chinese naval personnel is not a revolutionary idea.”
Since its inception, the U.S. Navy has offered tours of naval vessels to foreign dignitaries, including Soviet naval personnel during the Cold War. These tours are meant to foster relationships and promote dialogue among foreign navies.
During the Cold War, Soviet Adm. Sergei Gorshkov wanted to build a navy to rival the U.S. Navy’s supremacy, which resulted in heightened tensions between the two nations and caused several incidents at sea. In the 1970s, Adm. Gorshkov and Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner formalized an arrangement to diplomatically resolve any incidents that happen at sea. This included the ability for the U.S. Navy to sponsor Soviet tours of U.S. naval vessels.
Today, China is building a more modern and powerful navy. There is an inarguable need to monitor the technologies and capabilities the Chinese are developing, just as there would be for any nation that could threaten the security of the United States. However, our two nations need to foster a relationship that allows for the establishment of arrangements such as those created during the Cold War. This will help ensure incidents at sea do not result in war.
The Chinese government has initiated the first steps to foster such a relationship by hosting a tour of their aircraft carrier Liaoning for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Adm. Greenert. Adm. Greenert is only proposing that the United States respond in kind.