US Defence Secretary Ash Carter has called for a halt to island building by China and other parties in the South China Sea and an end to militarisation of the territorial disputes in the region. Mr Carter said, US would be the principal security power in the region for decades to come and that the US military’s airplanes and warships would continue to operate in the region wherever permitted under international law.
The remarks at a military ceremony in Hawaii came just a week after the US Navy sent a P-8 reconnaissance plane carrying Navy and television camera crews to film Chinese island building activity in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.U.S. officials say China has added some 2,000 acres to five outposts in the Spratlys, including 1,500 acres since the start of this year.
Carter is on the first leg of a trip that will take him to Singapore for the annual Shangri La Dialogue security conference and then on to Vietnam and India to discuss on maritime security issues and boosting security ties.
The U.S. aircraft that flew near the Spratlys was repeatedly warned by a Chinese navy radio operator to leave the area. Defying U.S. calls for halting unilateral actions, China’s transportation authorities on Tuesday hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of two “multi-functional lighthouses” to improve navigational safety on two reefs in the South China Sea.