- The US Navy Pacific fleet is planning to step up its military operations in the West Philippine Sea
- Admiral Harry Harris says China is clearly militarizing the region despite the latter’s repeated denial
- He also reaffirms the US commitment to “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows them”
MANILA, Philippines – The United States Navy will step up maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea as concerns over China’s recent deployment of surface-to-air missiles and jet fighters in the Paracels chain grow over the past weeks among regional powers like Japan, US and Australia.
Speaking before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing early this week, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific fleet, said Washington needs to boost its military operations in the region by sending more warplanes, battleships and submarines to deter China’s continued militarization of the disputed island-features currently under its control.
Harris said China is without a doubt militarizing the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and no amount of excuses from the Chinese government could deny the fact.
“In my opinion, China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea. You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise,” Harris told US lawmakers.
Changing the operational landscape
Harris accused China of trying to change the “operational landscape” in an attempt to enforce dominance in the region.
It is along this premise, the Navy official said, that his fleet is planning to send more assets in the contested waterways and counter China’s continued aggression that worries other regional powers in Asia and Oceania.
“We will be doing them more, and we’ll be doing them with greater complexity in the future and we’ll fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” Harris reiterated.
He added further: “We must continue to operate in the South China Sea to demonstrate that water space and the air above it is international.” (Click here to read more)