US to Stop China on Sea Reclamation at Spratly


WASHINGTON  – Leading senators expressed alarm on Thursday at the scale and speed of South China Sea and said a formal U.S. strategy was needed to slow or stop the work.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Republican Senators John McCain and Bob Corker and Democrats Jack Reed and Bob Menendez said that without a comprehensive strategy “long-standing interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk.”

The letter also says the US should develop a strategy that includes measures we can take to “slow down or stop China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea; whether we should release intelligence about these activities more frequently; should the US stop certain types of security cooperation with China if they don’t stop what’ they’re doing; and what the US can do diplomatically and in other venues to influence China’s behavior.

They said China’s land reclamation and construction in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago gave it the potential to expand its military reach and was “a direct challenge, not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community.”

The letter said Gaven Reef had grown about 28 acres (114,000 square meters) in the past year and previously submerged Johnson Reef was now a 25-acre (100,000-square-meter) “island.” Fiery Cross reef increased in size more than 11-fold since August.

Perhaps one answer would be to fund similar “reclamation” efforts by Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and South Korea? Or should the US “develop” new islands for our use? Well, those probably won’t happen because then we’d be violating our own norms, rules and agreements and mimicking “China’s coercive peacetime behavior.”

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