The U.S. Navy will sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows, Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander of the United States Pacific Command, said at an Armed Services House committee hearing yesterday, February 24.
The U.S. Navy Admiral, in confirmation of U.S. fears, said that China was “clearly militarising” the region by setting up missile launchers on the disputed islands.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, when asked about the missile launchers and radars, did not deny anything and reasoned that the “limited and necessary” defence facilities on the islands were within international law regulations.
Asked about what could be done to stop China in its intentions and deter militarization, Harris said he believes a stronger naval presence might do the job. He added that the U.S. Navy could consider putting another attack submarine in the region, among other options which would not entail a full-blown carrier group.
The Admiral, however, did note that an enhanced engagement could face certain “fiscal and political hurdles”.
As the tensions in the region are constantly on the rise, U.S. officials are continuing to endorse the freedom of navigation policy in the South China Sea, most of which China claims for itself.