TOKYO (AP) — The Navy's new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet sounded a conciliatory note toward China on Tuesday during the last stop of a three-country Asian tour.
"We have much more in common than we do in competition," Adm. Scott Swift told reporters in Tokyo.
He added, though, that the Navy is ready to respond to any situation that might arise, if called upon by the American president.
The U.S. and China have quarreled over China's land reclamation and construction activity on reefs in the South China Sea that are claimed by multiple countries.
Swift said that progress is being made on the U.S.-China relationship, but that the friction often overshadows it. He cited a new code to govern unplanned encounters at sea that both countries and others in the region have implemented.
He also predicted that any change in the Navy's ties with its Japanese counterpart resulting from legislation to expand Japan's military role would be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Swift, on his first trip to Asia since assuming command of the Pacific Fleet in late May, visited the Philippines and South Korea before Japan. The 200 ships and submarines and 1,100 aircraft of the Pacific Fleet cover a vast area that encompasses nearly half the earth's surface.