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US vows continued presence in South China Sea

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
US vows continued presence in South China Sea
Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, noted during a presentation at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday that many concerns in the region centered on the activities of China, which “quite often don’t match up with the words that come out of Beijing.”
AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The US will continue to operate in the South China Sea (SCS) to ensure prosperity for all nations in the region, the United States Indo-Pacific Command said.

Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, noted during a presentation at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday that many concerns in the region centered on the activities of China, which “quite often don’t match up with the words that come out of Beijing.”

He said China’s claims on the SCS “interfere with the well-being and prosperity of all nations in the region.”

“We view with concern (China’s) unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea — directly and negatively impacting all of the countries in the region, from their livelihood, whether it be with fishing or access to natural resources,” Aquilino said.

“Those are the things that lead me to believe that our execution of integrated deterrence has to occur now, and with a sense of urgency.”

He added that the 10 nations that border the SCS and many others depend on it for trade and that the prosperity of all depends on the continued free access to the waters there.

A third of liquid natural gas and a quarter of all global trade, he pointed out, flow through the SCS with the bordering nations relying on it for resources and fishing.

“It’s critically important for all nations. The unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea threatens all of that. When we talk about the South China Sea, understanding (its) importance is critical,” Aquilino said.

He gave assurance that the US is working with allies and partners in the region to reduce the tensions there.

“We spend a lot of time with our allies and partners to ensure that the international rules-based order is maintained and unlawful claims don’t go without challenge,” he stressed.

He noted that the Chinese unilaterally renamed 80 geographic features in the area, with an inherent claim that goes with each name. “That’s just counter to what all of the nations in the region would expect, believe, and what they need to maintain their prosperity,” he said.

The US has been operating in the Pacific for more than 80 years now, he said, and will continue to do so to maintain the agreed-upon international rules-based orders that the US and all Pacific nations depend on to ensure prosperity.

“This attempt to restate what a revisionist history view of claims is just counter to everything that those nations with common values believe. We will operate here to ensure that freedom of navigation for all is maintained. We will preserve the stability and peace in the (region’s) shared prosperity,” Aquilino said.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

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