SINGAPORE – (UPDATE, 2:11 p.m.) The United States on Saturday vowed to keep sending military aircraft and ships to disputed parts of the South China Sea and called for an immediate halt to reclamation works by Beijing in the tense region.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore that Beijing’s intensifying reclamation activity was “out of step” with international norms.
“First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants,” Carter said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on security with a high-level Chinese military delegation attending.
“We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features,” he said.
He acknowledged that other claimants have developed outposts of differing scope and degree, including Vietnam with 48, the Philippines with eight, Malaysia with five and Taiwan with one.
“Yet, one country has gone much farther and much faster than any other.
“And that’s China. China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined and more than in the entire history of the region. And China did so in only the last 18 months,” Carter said.
“It is unclear how much farther China will go. That is why this stretch of water has become the source of tension in the region and front-page news around the world.”