Ashton Carter, the U.S. Defense Secretary stated Wednesday that China is breaking international law and must put an immediate stop on the buildup of man-made islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago. He also made a comment that the U.S. military will continue with regular patrol of the international waters and airspace of the disputed region in the South China Sea.
China has been pushing their claim on the Spratly islands, as well as more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which is doubted to be rich is oil and gas resources, as well as being a very successful trade route with an estimated $5 trillion. The region is being claimed by other countries as well, such as Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The Pentagon is concerned of the recent developments in the region of the Spratly archipelago this previous weeks, due to China building mobile artillery weapons systems, making another reclamation of land and not respecting the agreed upon norms of the international law.
According to Reuters, Ashton Carter, ahead of his security forum in Singapore about the issue of maritime security and freedom of navigation, has stated that China is making a reclamation of land and that the scale on which it is being done is something that cannot be allowed and is a cause of great concern about the safety and security of the region.
The US and other countries have called on China to put a stop on the militarization of the region and halt the island-building in the region. Also, the U.S. navy has send a reconnaissance mission and captured a video of the Chinese dredging work and making outposts.
According to Reuters, Carter replied to the comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that the US must take a more responsible role in keeping the peace and stated that “The United States will fly, sail, operate, wherever international law allows. We have been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and will continue to do that.” He also said that the US is maintaining a shared regional security system that has been beneficial for everyone in the past 70 years.
Ashton Carter during his Honolulu speech this Wednesday stated that neighboring countries should take action and own the problem, and according to Reuters he said that the “region’s security architecture and the consensus for non-coercive approaches has been violated. The Chinese are making a dispute that will bring surrounding countries closer together”.
The South China Sea security is of immense importance to the U.S. national security and the global economy and due to that fact the U.S. will remain the principal security power in the Pacific region. Carter is expected to take part at the regional security forum in Singapore, where the Spratly islands dispute will certainly take a centre stage.