US vows ‘actions’ vs China


SINGAPORE: Chinese construction on a West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) islet claimed by the Philippines will prompt “actions being taken” by the United States and other nations, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Saturday.

Speaking at a security summit in Singapore, Carter said Beijing risks building a “Great Wall of self-isolation” with its military expansion in the contested waters, but he also proposed stronger bilateral security cooperation to reduce the risks of a mishap.

“I hope that this development doesn’t occur because it will result in actions being taken both by the United States, and actions being taken by others in the region that will have the effect of not only increasing tensions but isolating China,” Carter said when asked about Scarborough Shoal in a forum also attended by senior Chinese military officials.

Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, who heads the Chinese office of international military cooperation, quickly attacked the Pentagon chief’s remarks, telling journalists they reflected a “Cold War mentality.”

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post has reported that China plans to establish an outpost on the shoal, located 230 kilometers off the Philippines, which considers it part of its exclusive economic zone.

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea and has developed contested reefs into artificial islands, some topped with airstrips.

Manila says China took effective control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012, stationing patrol vessels and shooing away Filipino fishermen, after a two-month stand-off with the Philippine Navy.

Carter declined to elaborate when later pressed on what “actions” Washington might take.

The US warning came ahead of a ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on a case brought by the Philippines against China, which has shunned the proceedings and says it will not recognize any ruling.

In a prepared speech, Carter said the United States views the upcoming finding “as an opportunity for China and the rest of the region to recommit to a principled future, to renewed diplomacy, and to lowering tensions, rather than raising them.”

‘Great Wall of self-isolation’

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims in the sea, which encompasses vital global shipping routes and is believed to have significant oil and gas deposits.

Beijing’s territorial claims, based on controversial historical records, have also pitted it against the United States, which has conducted patrols near Chinese-held islands to press for freedom of navigation.

“Unfortunately, if these actions continue, China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation,” Carter said in his speech.

He suggested the US and China would benefit from better military ties — both to build understanding and to avoid the risk of mishaps.

Pentagon officials say two Chinese fighters last month conducted an “unsafe” intercept of a US spy plane in international air space over the South China Sea.

Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of the US Pacific Command, said in Singapore that such incidents were rare, and noted that US and Chinese naval vessels generally have “positive interactions.”

Carter’s attendance at the summit is part of a broader US diplomatic push, known as the “rebalance,” to boost alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a report last month, the Pentagon said China put its land reclamation efforts on hold in the Spratly Islands chain at the end of 2015. Instead, it focused on adding military infrastructure to its reclaimed features.



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  1. William t dungo on

    I am a Pilipino recruited by US navy in olongapo US naval station. I was train by the US Navy to be a real great soldier. For twenty years I was station on the Pacific. Protecting the Asian country for becoming a communist country that Communist China And USSR communist wanted to the Asian country. But with President Reagan he build a 600 US Navy in which was part of it ” stronger US Navy of our time. Communist China and Russia were defeated and communism collapse and the Phillipine did not become a communist country because the communist in Asia collapse. Then the US help this communist China and Russia to build their economy now they’re doing good in their economy and China try to take the whole west Philippine sea and Russia taking Ukraine. They to be ashamed Russia and China.

  2. William t dungo on

    It is the policy of Clinton and Obama that make situation to occur. In the nineties as Clinton started the policy of scaling down the US Navy and when Obama came as president he scrap the US Navy. So there no more Seven Fleet in Asia. When China took over the west Philippine sea they had no more enemy to stop them. So the cause of is Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama because the downgrade the US Navy that it can function anymore and instead they send one drone to fight against Chinese modern Navy. At the same cause by Aquino ad Joseph Estrada and radical communist activist of the Philippines to remove the US naval base in subic bay.

  3. Joshua Schneider on

    Editors: Thank you for posting… sorry about the physical/physically thing… My bad.

    Joshua Schneider

  4. Joshua Schneider on

    Please read the following about China not abiding by any decision of the Hague Court and also the inability of the current US President’s ability to project power in the South China Sea. Esteban G. Pena Sy excellent article on “Can we talk to China on the West Philippine Sea” should be required reading for those that think the US under the current administration is physical going to make its presence known. Talk is cheap.. Sr. Esteban has in one article given us a blueprint for the future.

    Another red line in the sand.