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Pentagon chief says U.S. flights over South China Sea will go on

38 Comments

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday strongly defended America's right to fly over artificial islands that Beijing is building in the South China Sea, but gave few hints ahead of a visit to Asia this week about what the United States was willing to do to halt the construction effort.

Carter responded to Chinese complaints about U.S. military flights over the projects by saying, "There should be no mistake in this, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."

His comments came in the wake of a formal Chinese protest over the flight last week of a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over Fiery Cross Reef, where China is reclaiming land to build an island. Carter's forceful message signaled a sharp start to his 11-day trip that will take him across the Asia-Pacific region, with stops in Singapore, Vietnam and India.

But Carter did little to clarify what the U.S. is willing to do - diplomatically or militarily - to get China to stop the island construction.

One senior U.S. official said there are discussions about conducting more military flights and patrols in the South China Sea near the projects. Officials also are looking at ways to adjust the military exercises in the region to increase U.S. presence there if needed. The official was not authorized to discuss the options publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

One possibility would be for U.S. ships to travel within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the artificial islands, to further make the point that they are not sovereign Chinese land.

The Navy routinely conducts surveillance and other aircraft flights in the Asia-Pacific region, but China's escalating land reclamation projects have raised concerns about the country's military intentions. China further inflamed tensions Tuesday by issuing a report that laid out Beijing's more assertive national defense posture.

China insists the building is within its rights and has no intention of stopping.

Carter, who spoke during a ceremony Wednesday in Hawaii as Adm. Sam Locklear turned over leadership of U.S. Pacific Command to Adm. Harry Harris, called for an "immediate and lasting halt" to all land reclamation projects by any Pacific nations.

China's building far outstrips other countries' efforts, but some, including Vietnam, also have done some land reclamation.

While the U.S. has many disagreements with China, the two nations have worked to improve relations in recent years through increased diplomatic and military contacts.

The Pentagon said in a recent report that the construction - estimated at more than 2,000 acres (800 hectares) - could be used for military airstrips, naval ports or to host surveillance systems. U.S. officials are concerned that China's land reclamation projects may be a prelude to enforcing a possible air defense identification zone over the South China Sea, similar to one it declared over disputed Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea in 2013.

The U.S. official said there are concerns that China is working to build a perimeter around the South China Sea so it potentially can claim the entire region as its own economic zone, with rights to all the natural resources there.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
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Hallelujah. Need some boat visits, too. Everything that can show that China's claims have no weight whatsoever.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

phoenix.jones: Hallelujah. Need some boat visits, too. Everything that can show that China's claims have no weight whatsoever.

And beachfront Tiki parties on the disputed islands!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The day will come when the Chinese will hear: "THIS IS US NAVY FIGHTER SQUADRON VFA-XXX. DO YOU WISH TO ENGAGE!" China is really wishing for something they shouldn't!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

U.S. flights over South China Sea

Should read U.S. spy flights just off the coast of China. The headline is calling Charles Manson " a guy who got a lot of press in the 1960s."

China had been internally focused for decades, but the U.S. just cannot resist going over to their backyard fence and provoking them and now complains about the result.

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

I'm really starting to wonder whether this is just Bread and Circuses. The Chinese have been building up these islands for over a year now.

Hey! Look over there!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

china fully expects the US to fold and go home- something the current president might do, and something Madame President Hopeful might do as well.

as for Living Memory's comment's- sign of the times for the 60's . but look at today- russian bears flying over Alaska, China attempting to fly over carrier fleets, china building the island- which can currently land transports- so if a transport can land i hazard a guess fighters could too.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

How destructive is this to the area is one concern. And "Reclaiming Land" is an incorrect term used in the article. Building an island is more accurate. And how in their right mind can the Chinese leadership feel they have every right to build the islands and claim the airspace as their own.. Go to hell I say!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

PRC's shore line is not in the middle of SCS 1000Km away from mainland china. Those artificial islands that had been reclaimed does not posess territorial status beyond 400 METERS under UNCLOS which PRC is a Signatory of.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Good Bad CrazyJoeMAY. 28, 2015 - 09:01AM JST The day will come when the Chinese will hear: "THIS IS US NAVY FIGHTER SQUADRON VFA-XXX. DO YOU WISH TO ENGAGE!" oh they don't wish that unless they want to sacrifice lives and hardware! Though it would demonize the U.S. once more.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@MarkG

And how in their right mind can the Chinese leadership feel they have every right to build the islands and claim the airspace as their own..

Just copying Japan with Okinotorishima. But alas, when China plays America's and Japan's own games, the double standards never seem to end.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Which PRC is arguing and disclaiming it's relevance. One difference is Okinotorishima is not within disputed waters.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

http://www.smh.com.au/national/china-moves-weapons-on-to-artificial-islands-in-south-china-sea-20150527-ghb3vv.html

China has moved weaponry onto artificial islands that it is building in contested areas of the South China Sea, adding to the risks of a confrontation with the United States and its regional security partners including Australia.

Australian military officers and officials have discussed a need to demonstrate that they do not recognise any 12-mile territorial zone or more expansive economic zone that China may unilaterally claim around its freshly-minted islands. But they are grappling with the need to avoid inflaming a potential confrontation Australia's largest trading partner.

Last week the United States demonstrated its position with a flyover by a P-8 surveillance plane, which carried a CNN journalist.

The voice of an Australian can be heard over the aircraft's radio.

Too late?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Carter responded to Chinese complaints about U.S. military flights over the projects by saying, “There should be no mistake in this, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”

Good. Bullies only understand one thing -- force. Talk means nothing to them. And Obama got a recent lesson in this from Putin in the Ukraine. He cannot afford to make the same mistake in Asia, where such a large percentage of the world's population is, and so much of its future economic growth is expected.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

@Triring

Which PRC is arguing and disclaiming it's relevance.

Is it hypocritical? Sort of. We don't know how Okinotorishima is going to play out. But I do notice that no one other than China is complaining about it. Japan may well set a very horrible precedent. And China would be a fool not to follow suit if it too can gain. Japan started this and no one is hassling Japan but China over it. You reap what you sow, or fail to stop others from sowing.

One difference is Okinotorishima is not within disputed waters.

Yeah, well China has gotten screwed in the past. Again, look up Japan and the Senkakus. Japan decided to play by European style rules of claiming uninhabited territory and disregard the long standing Asian principle of such places being buffer zones. So the Senkakus went to Japan and stay with Japan yet. China is late to the game but given how they have been historically treated they are definitely playing a grudge match.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

@FizzBit

I'm really starting to wonder whether this is just Bread and Circuses.

You mean because the little emperors in Beijing have to resort to circuses to keep their masses in line and their supply of bread is running out? Bread and circuses indeed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

China is looking to start a war. That's why they are disregarding the Treaty of the Sea and trying expand their territory with force and by illegal means such as building islands. China is the antagonist here and they hope to start a war that lead to them eventually dominating east Asia. In order to do so they need to defeat the US. This is the long term goal. So think about that when you read the words of those excusing China or trying to make Japan and the US into the ones seeking war. Japan and the US would rather trade with China than fight it.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

You mean because the little emperors in Beijing have to resort to circuses to keep their masses in line and their supply of bread is running out? Bread and circuses indeed.

Along with the little war pigs in the US.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Fizzy its China that's beating the war drum.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Notasap

My comment was deleted. But anyway, IMO there will be no "war" between the US and China, there too much joined at the hip. There might be a skirmish, but that would just be for show since both are just playing games, and they both know it.

And if as you say, that China is beating a war drum, then the US is conducting a war symphony in the world. Including wars started, secret wars and operations, economic war and weapons sales. You're looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

U.S. just cannot resist going over to their backyard fence and provoking them and now complains about the result. the only provocations have been by the Chinese, building islands in waters they have no legal international claim over. "international law not Chinese law"

2 ( +5 / -3 )

'The day will come when the Chinese will hear: "THIS IS US NAVY FIGHTER SQUADRON VFA-XXX. DO YOU WISH TO ENGAGE!" China is really wishing for something they shouldn't!'

Is anyone going to join in with 'the most awesome military machine in human history', 'bulls and horns' or the more direct 'don't #### with us' rhetoric? This kind of talk terrifies me but it is almost erotic to many in the US and convinces me that a full scale war between the US and China is not out of the question. These are two countries not exactly afraid to see their people dead - the US has been sacrificing rivers of blood for disastrous wars of choice for decades and the CCP is historically swimming in the blood of its own citizens.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@USN What would you do if such a war broke out? Watch it for a while and then support the side you think looks more likely to win?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

To be fair, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam have also been building on disputed islands. So this development is not completely new. But the scale of China's building is unprecedented, and China claims ALL of the SCS. The source of tensions in the SCS is of course mainly China.

I hope a concerted alliance of South-East Asian nations, Japan, and the U.S. will come together to stop Chinese expansionism. Chinese control over the SCS would be a geopolitical disaster.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Countries really need to reconsider doing business with China. Will it be economically painful? Yes, of course it will. But how do we think an all out war with China will affect the global economy? We need to quit enabling this country, yesterday. But with most of the world running on pure greed and short-sighted monetary morality, I just don't think it will happen.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The day will come when the Chinese will hear: "THIS IS US NAVY FIGHTER SQUADRON VFA-XXX. DO YOU WISH TO ENGAGE!" China is really wishing for something they shouldn't!

ahh the keyboard warrior. I can just imagine the arousal typing out that ridiculous passage must have caused.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Hmmmm, here's one way for China to put the US in a jam:

-seed the area around these artificial islands with underwater mines.

If a USN warship hits a mine and they try to blame China:

"We're not responsible/liable for those mines. You yourself said they were international waters. If you want to acknowledge our claim to these waters.....we'll apologize for the unfortunate damage/loss of life. Which wouldn't have happened if you weren't violating our territory. Oh, and thanks for legitimizing our claim to this area."

That said, I'm sure if the Russian Navy was doing joint exercises in the Gulf of Mexico with Venezuela, most US warmongers would have an aneurism. But the US Navy playing in China's backyard is somehow China being a "bully".

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Or the US Navy can just start target practice at those artificial reefs and when PRC conplains the US can just say sorry but we are doing naval practice in international waters, it's your fault placing something that doesn't belong there in the first place.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@wtfjapan

the only provocations have been by the Chinese,

How about I stand outside your house and point various equipment at it, such as binoculars, infrared scopes and keep a blog on when you leave for work, come home, etc. I will be on the street when I do this, so no, you should just go about your business and not even look at me funny.

building islands in waters they have no legal international claim over.

They have no legal claim?? I beg your pardon? Either someone has a valid claim to those waters or they empty ocean and China can build all they want.

Your not liking China does not mean they can't claim anything anywhere. Or, you can explain in detail. I would love to hear it.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Pentagon chief says U.S. flights over South China Sea will go on

This whole story + reading everyone's comments remind me of Tom Clancy's SSN novel. Scary scenarios that guy comes up with.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jimizo

@USN What would you do if such a war broke out? Watch it for a while and then support the side you think looks more likely to win?

I'm rather puzzled by your question because it makes no sense. You speak as though I have or would ever want a choice as to who to "support", whatever that means. I'm an active duty member of the U.S. Navy in Japan. What do you think I'd do? What do you think I'm here for?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Adm. Sam Locklear..., called for an “immediate and lasting halt” to all land reclamation projects by any Pacific nations.

From world police to world overlord. No, Pacific nations, you can't do that because an American Admiral said "No!" and that is all the reason you need. You have got to be kidding me!

Can anyone come up with some clear law or rule with this?

And yeah, this coming from America. How did America get so big? Well it wasn't by relatively benign land reclamation projects, that is for darned sure!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Living Memory

Either someone has a valid claim to those waters or they empty ocean and China can build all they want.

Uh, no. They, or anyone else, actually can't. How do you not understand this?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

'I'm rather puzzled by your question because it makes no sense. You speak as though I have or would ever want a choice as to who to "support", whatever that means. I'm an active duty member of the U.S. Navy in Japan. What do you think I'd do? What do you think I'm here for?'

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@phoenix.jones

At which point the international community would be totally justified in flipping over China's government for mining international waters.

Right....because "flipping over" the government of a industrialized nuclear-armed state with a population of 1.3 billion is totally feasible. Like flicking a light switch, really.

And if, in your mind, deliberately sinking a rival's military vessel and covering it up is an offense worthy of "regime change", then surely regularly causing collateral civilian casualties due to airstrikes in half-a-dozen different sovereign nations should have earned the US a "regime change" long ago.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

China wouldn´t dare comfront the USA.....NEVER

Now....a smaller nation like Malasia, Vietnam,etc will catch hell from the Chinese.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

From ancient time the sea was always open and no nation can make claim this applied to ancient China as well.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@USNinJapan2

Uh, no. They, or anyone else, actually can't. How do you not understand this?

How can you not understand that without a clear law or rule, just stating a thing can't be done does not make it true?

All you have to do is cite a rule and BOOM, you win. Just do it or admit you can't.

@Triring

From ancient time the sea was always open and no nation can make claim this applied to ancient China as well.

Well Japan manufactured an island is now claiming an EEZ around it. Only China complains. So, it looks like times have changed.

But if we are going to apply a standard its going to have to apply to Japan and China equally obviously.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

International area is international area - meaning no one can keep others away from that space.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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