Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told Pentagon reporters on Thursday, but denied he was trying to send a message to China.
AP/File
We blew up man-made islands before – US
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – The US military has a lot of experience gained in World War II blowing up small man-made islands in the Western Pacific, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told Pentagon reporters on Thursday, but denied he was trying to send a message to China.

He said Beijing has practised bomber flight landings and deployed surface-to-air missiles and other defense assets on artificial islands it has built on contested areas in the South China Sea, ratcheting up tensions in the region.

“It’s just a fact. We have a lot of experience, in the Second World War, taking down small islands that are isolated. So that’s a – that’s a core competency of the US military that we’ve done before. You shouldn’t read anything more into that than a simple statement of historical fact,” McKenzie said.

China claims almost all of the sea but other countries including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia have rival claims on several island chains and nearby waters.

“We continue to seek areas to cooperate with China where we can. But, where we can’t, we’re prepared to certainly protect both US and allied interests in the region,” McKenzie said.

He said the US military will continue to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea as allowed by international law.

Over the past few days senior US military officials have reaffirmed America’s commitment to a free and open international order in the South China Sea.

KENNETH MCKENZIE SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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