US Defense Secretary Ash Carter toured the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea yesterday and expressed concern about China’s activities in those waters.
Carter said the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier’s presence is a “symbol and a sign of the critical role the United States’ military power plays in what is a very consequential region for the American future.”
The defense secretary also commented on regional tensions resulting from disputes over land features in the South China Sea, saying that “there is a lot of concern about Chinese behavior out here.” Several Asia-Pacific countries, including China, are involved in those disputes.
Those concerns, Carter said, were discussed the day before at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting – Plus in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
Carter toured the aircraft carrier with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
The USS Roosevelt, with about 3,000 crew members, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego. The move is part of a three-carrier homeport shift.
Carter, who is on an eight-day trip focusing on the Asia-Pacific rebalance, will travel on to Hawaii, then California, before returning to the Pentagon.
Image: US Air Force