Maui News

Hirono Questions China’s Role in N. Korea Threat

April 9, 2013, 9:15 AM HST
* Updated April 9, 9:30 AM
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US Senator Mazie Hirono. Courtesy file photo.

US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy file photo.

By Wendy Osher

The commander of the US Pacific Command  reaffirmed the strategic importance of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and discussed long-term threats to the Asia-Pacific region during a hearing today on Capitol Hill of the Senate Armed Services Committee, officials said.

The commander also answered questions posed by US Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi who sought answers regarding China’s engagement in the growing tensions coming from North Korea.

During the hearing, Hirono asked Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III if he foresees action on part of the Chinese to stop or reduce the level of provocations from North Korea.

Locklear’s response was detailed in a press release issued by Sen. Hirono’s office in which he reportedly stated:

“Well, I think there’s been statements by both Xi Jinping and by their minister, I believe, of foreign affairs in the last day or two that would indicate that they have some concerns about any disruption — continued provocations or disruptions in this part of the world, or anything that would put a potential negative situation on their border,” Admiral Locklear answered. “I believe these are not as direct as we would like to see here but they are indications that the Chinese government is engaging.”

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Also in response to Hirono’s dialogue, Locklear discussed the “strategic direction” of operations at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard saying it is expected to remain on track.

“I assume that the changes we are going to make in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard will continue to make it competitive in nature but certainly what they produce for us from a military perspective… will continue to be important.”

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The hearing also reportedly included discussion of climate change as a long-term threat to the region and the importance of infrastructure, planning and coordination with allies and partners.

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