A China Coast Guard ship in a stand off with a Philippine supply boat. Photo: Jay Directo/AFP via Getty Images
The US is very concerned about China’s attempted restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight amid the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, a senior official said Tuesday, urging claimants to push for peaceful and diplomatic solutions.
There has been an unprecedented campaign of land reclamation and military construction in the region, but “what China is doing vastly outstrips what all other claimants have done,” Colin Willett, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said from Washington during a telephonic press conference.
“While it’s true that other claimants have at times put military personnel and weapons on their outposts, it just simply doesn’t compare to what we’ve seen China do in the last two years,” she said.
Willett also rejected China’s claims that its new outposts are civilian or for civilian purposes, arguing that its runways, for instance, are designed to accommodate strategic bombers, not cargo planes for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.