Adm. Philip Davidson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on April 26 that he would work to recalibrate US force posture in the Indo-Pacific.
US Marine Corps/Cpl. Matthew Bragg, File
US: More troops needed vs China
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 21, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With China now effectively able to control the South China Sea, the incoming chief of the US Pacific Command has called for an increase in military presence in the Indo-Pacific region to deter Chinese aggression.

Adm. Philip Davidson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on April 26 that he would work to recalibrate US force posture in the Indo-Pacific.

He said China has built enough military infrastructure to completely control the South China Sea.

Davidson’s testimony was made even before the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) announced that it had landed planes, including the top-of-the-line H-6K bombers, on an outpost in the South China Sea for the first time. 

Social media posts on the PLAAF’s Weibo account, as well as the state-owned People’s Daily Twitter account, showed a long-range bomber landing and taking off from Woody Island—China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands.

Davidson also wrote the PLA will be able to use China’s South China Sea bases to challenge US presence in the region.

He said any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea claimants.

“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Davidson wrote. 

The US gave assurances on Wednesday that it is committed and remains an interested party in the disputed territories.

During his visit to Manila, Patrick Murphy, acting principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific of the US Department of State, said the Chinese construction, reclamation and growing militarization in the South China Sea cause great concern for the US. 

The militarization on the part of any and all parties would suggest that past commitments are being violated, he said. 

Murphy added commitments not to militarize have been made publicly and privately to the US and other parties as he emphasized a multilateral approach in resolving the South China Sea dispute.

“We’re very, very committed. As I say in the South China Sea, we’re not a claimant but we’re very interested party and we hope that the process to resolve disputes can be conducted transparently and in consultation with many third parties that are interested including the US,” Murphy told reporters in a press briefing.

Murphy said the Philippines is the US’ most enduring defense treaty ally.

“The US has five treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific region – two right here in Southeast Asia – and the Philippines is a very enduring friend, the most enduring defense treaty ally that we have in the region and over history our two countries have worked together, collaborated together, sacrificed together,” he said.

CHINA US PACIFIC COMMAND
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