BANGKOK (AP) — China’s activities in territory it claims in the South China Sea are meant to intimidate other nations in the region, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said Friday.
Adm. John Aquilino said China’s actions, including constructing islands in the disputed waters, are intended to project its military capacity.
He told journalists at a briefing in the Thai capital Bangkok that in addition to installing anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile systems and radar jamming equipment, China has recently landed bombers on runways on some of the man-made islands it built atop coral reefs and lagoons that dot one of the world’s busiest waterways.
He said it was clear that such installations ”absolutely have military purpose in order to present an optic to partners and nations in the region that show military strength and ultimately coerce and bully the nations in the region.”
China’s vast territorial claims, far beyond its shores, have been challenged by other claimants, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. About $3 trillion worth of trade passes each year through the South China Sea, and it is abundant with natural resources, said Aquilino.
Aquilino said he sees the role of the U.S. is to “keep the nations and the region secure” in close cooperation with its allies “who share same values.”
“There’s no doubt that the U.S. has stated that we are in competition with the People’s Republic of China. We have inherent disagreements between ideologies,” Aquilino said. He added, however that the competition was not a conflict.
“The U.S. will cooperate where we can, and we’ll compete where we must,” he said.
Read full article here: