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China accuses US of garrisoning the Pacific

General Austin says the US is prepared to step up to be a leader and a guarantor of a free and open Indo-Pacific. "Big powers carry big responsibilities," he says

CNN - US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin  Shangri-La Dialogue summit  Singapore  June 11 (CNN)
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin addresses the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in  Singapore on Saturday  (CNN)

| CNN | Edited extracts

SINGAPORE – On Saturday, United States defence secretary Lloyd Austin called out China and vowed the US would stand by partners after a series of coercive, aggressive and dangerous actions that he said threatened stability in Asia.

"Indo-Pacific countries shouldn't face political intimidation, economic coercion or harassment by maritime militias," Austin said in a keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's premier defence conference.

"The PRC's moves threaten to undermine security, and stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," Austin said, using the acronym to refer to the country by its official name, the People's Republic of China.

He listed a series of areas where China is ‘muscling its neighbours’, including sending large numbers of warplanes into the skies near Taiwan, dangerously intercepting the patrol planes of US allies and illegal fishing operations that "plunder the region's provisions."

Taiwan played a key role in Austin's address, as it did during a meeting he had with Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe on Friday evening.

During that meeting, both sides accused the other of trying to change the decades-long status quo over the self-governed democracy of Taiwan and its 23 million people.

"We're determined to uphold the status quo that has served this region so well for so long," Austin said.

Under the ‘One China’ policy, the US acknowledges China's position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognised Beijing's claim.

Austin said the US was acting appropriately in the region but China was operating differently.

"We've witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilising military activity near Taiwan,” he said.

“That includes PLA aircraft flying near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months - and on a nearly daily basis," he said, referring to flights of Chinese warplanes into Taiwan's air defence identification zone.

Austin’s accusations against China went well beyond Taiwan.

"In the East China Sea, (China's) expanding fishing fleet is sparking tensions with its neighbours,” he said.

“And China is using outposts on man-made islands bristling with advanced weaponry to advance its illegal maritime claims," Austin said.

"We're seeing (Chinese) vessels plunder the region's provisions, operating illegally within the territorial waters of other Indo-Pacific countries.”

Austin also pointed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an example of the "turmoil" that can ensure when nations veer from international law.

"It's a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in."

How the Ukraine war can affect Pacific security was also brought to the forefront by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

"Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow," Kishida said, adding that to ensure its security Tokyo would be substantially increasing its defence budget.

"We will not rule out any options, including so-called counterstrike capabilities, and will realistically consider what is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people," he said.

Austin noted the bigger roles that Japan and other allies are playing in US Pacific policies. One of these partners is India, which along with Japan and Australia is a member of the informal Quad alliance.

“We believe that India’s growing military capability and technological prowess can be a stabilising force in the region." Austin said.

In a key move in the Pacific Islands, where China has been making a push to make new security and economic agreements with small island states, Austin said Washington was making "unprecedented" US Coast Guard investments.

This includes for the first time permanently stationing a Coast Guard cutter in the region for the first time.

Zhang, said the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific is to "maintain its hegemony."

"The United States is trying to form a small circle in the Asia-Pacific region by roping in some countries to incite against some other countries," Zhang said.

He accused the US of trying to "push the Indo-Pacific region into the trap of geopolitical games and camp confrontation."

Austin said the Biden administration is prepared to step up to be a leader and a guarantor of the free and open Indo-Pacific.

"Big powers carry big responsibilities," he said. "And so we'll do our part to manage these tensions responsibly, to prevent conflict, and to pursue peace and prosperity."


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Corney Korokan Alone

'Unprecedented' US Coast Guard investments (?) in the South Pacific Islands....

Citizens of the South Pacific Islands countries don't need that projection of hegemonic power:

The South Pacific Islands countries must seriously consider terminating any and all Coastguard related agreements and arrangements with the hypocritical terroristic state of the USA that are in place right now.

Harry Topham

Might be time for Japan to muscle up and enter the fracas as by doing so may take the heat out of the debate.

Considering past histories, a tooled up Japan might be something China would definitely not want to contemplate.

Paul Oates

Let's look at this situation in reality. With so much pawing the ground and sabre rattling it's hard to understand what issues are and what will eventually happen.

The situation is as old as humankind, which has always come into conflict over ambition, power, greed and ego.

The underlying issue however is far more serious. The world is running out of resources to feed and water an ever increasing population that is out of control.

The reason for the problem getting out of control? Previous controls over excess population are not keeping pace with the numbers of live births.

It is after all, far easier to produce a child and the wonder how to feed it than it is to grow and produce the food required to feed the child.

No one in power has the intestinal fortitude however to bring themselves to confront the real issue because it will have as much appeal as a smelly fish left forgotten in the back of the bus.

How does the plea from the bus company go? 'Would the person who left their dead fish in the back of the bus last Friday please come and collect the bus on Monday'.

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