US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, warned the Senate in a hearing on Thursday that China’s building of three landing strips on artificial islands and their further militarization was of “great concern militarily” also, it represents a risk to all nations in the region. He said “the islands were designed for military use as forward working bases.” China is developing a 3,000 meter long runway in Fiery Cross Reef and it can accommodate any size of planes.
He gave the Senate’s Armed Services Committee a heads-up about China’s conceivable sending of cutting edge weapon system frameworks, including rocket sites, new fighter jets and different types of aircraft that will use the runways. He additionally said China is developing ports that can fit any warships.
“It creates a mechanism by which China would have de facto control over the South China Sea in any scenario short of war,” Admiral Harris told the session, which took place ahead of next week’s visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States.
“United States should exercise freedom to air and sea navigation in the South China Sea against those islands that are not islands”, he added.
“I agree that the South China Sea is no more China’s than the Gulf of Mexico is Mexico’s,” Harris said, the admiral also added that he is now awaiting from his superiors.
Recently, Chinese Navy was spotted sailing near Alaska. Authorities said that it was a provocation or to test the waters. Harris said, “My opinion is that they went into the Bering Sea to demonstrate their capability to operate that far north.”
In his recent statement several months ago, Harris said that “By maintaining a capable and credible forward presence in the region, we’re able to improve our ability to maintain stability and security,” he said. “If any crisis does break out, we’re better positioned to quickly respond.”
By: Robert Beerlak