US Sends Warships to Japan as Tensions Rise
Chuck Hagel gives warning to China on 10-day Asia trip
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2014 1:30 PM CDT
An American sailor walks in front of the USS Milius (DDG 69), an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, as it docks at Manila's south harbor, Philippines on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

(Newser) – Visiting Japan today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US is sending two more ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter a possible North Korean attack, the AP reports. But he saved his sharpest remarks for China, linking Russia's takeover of Crimea with China's aggressive behavior in a spat over the East China Sea Islands: "Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict," he said. "All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small." Hagel's 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific is part of Washington's "pivot" toward Asia and a reaction to China's increased military spending, Reuters reports.

His trip also coincides with tit-for-tat disputes between China and Japan that "would not be out of place in Mean Girls," the New York Times reports. In one twist, China barred Japan from displaying its fleet at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium—so Washington agreed to keep its fleet away too. "It is so totally high school," said a senior US defense official. "We were, like, 'Really? You’re going to do that?'" As for the missile-defense warships—Washington's sixth and seventh in Japan—they can fire cruise missiles as well as track and destroy missiles aimed at the US or its allies.