By Dempsey Reyes /Manila Times
The United States remains committed to patrolling the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) given its interest in keeping trade flowing, a senior official said.
“Our operations there have really not fluctuated much over those seven decades, including in recent times. And so we’ll consistently be present. We have a tremendous amount of national interest,” US chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in a press briefing via telephone on Thursday.
“About a third of the world’s trade flows through the South China Sea. The United States is a maritime nation. We have a great national interest in that body of water. So, we’ll consistently be there,” he added.
He denied claims by Beijing that the patrols were provocations and urged partners in the region to also step up operations in the area.
The US has deployed ships to the South China Sea in recent months and also conducted military exercises with the Philippines, Japan and India.
Jakarta and Canberra, Richardson said, were both “strong advocates” of maintaining stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Both are strong advocates for the rules-based order… using, enabling their navies to provide the security that would support that system of order that… will lead to prosperity for those two very important countries in the region — Indonesia and Australia,” he added.
He urged other nations in the region to assess the situation in their respective areas and adopt their own positions.
“One size doesn’t fit every part of the Pacific. There’s a lot of variability there. Neither does one approach fit for every nation in the Pacific. Everybody’s got to determine their own approach,” Richardson said.