WASHINGTON – The US Pacific Fleet is prepared to respond to threats against the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China’s undisputed land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, its commander said.
“My intent is not to plan for war against any particular nation, but rather to lessen the chances of conflict by increasing security and stability more broadly throughout the region. But the Pacific Fleet is prepared, unequivocally, to respond to threats to our nation, our interests and our allies from a position of strength,” Admiral Harry Harris told a security conference in Canberra on Tuesday.
China claims most of the sea and its coral reefs, rocks and sandbars but competing claims by the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries stoke tensions and increase the potential for miscalculations, he said.
But what’s really drawing a lot of concern is the unprecedented land reclamation currently being conducted by China, he said.
“China is building artificial land by pumping sand on to live coral reefs – some of them submerged – and paving over them with concrete. China has now created over four square kilometers of artificial landmass,” he said.