US Vice President Joe Biden attacked China’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea, saying Friday that Beijing’s actions raised the potential for conflict in the region.
In the graduation ceremony at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Biden said Chinese actions in the South China Sea were testing the principles of peacefully resolving territorial disputes and ensuring freedom of navigation in the crucial waterway.
“They’re building air strips, they’re placing oil rigs,” said Biden, the highest ranking American official to date to criticize Beijing.
He also cited China’s unilateral ban on fishing, the declaration of air defense zones, and the massive reclamation of land in disputed territories.
Addressing the graduates from the naval academy, Biden added: “We are going to look to you to uphold these principles wherever they are challenged [and] to strengthen our growing security partnerships and to make good on our unshakeable commitment to the mutual defense of our allies.”
Biden also said that US policy was shifting toward a stronger presence in the Asia-Pacific region. By 2020, he said, 60 percent of the US naval forces would be in the region.
Biden’s remarks came in the wake of a row with Beijing over US reconnaissance flights in the region last week.
In a radio interview Sunday, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the government should tap Filipino-Chinese taipans who maintain businesses in China to talk to their friends there while official diplomacy continued.
“So there will be official and unofficial talks with the Chinese,” Marcos said.
He said the government should explore all possible solutions to ease the tension now that the Americans have entered the picture.
“This means the problem is becoming more complicated,” Marcos said.
Senator Francis Escudero said he does not see the situation escalating into war.
“China has no interest in a war in this part of the world,” he said. The Americans, with their huge debts to China, also had no intention to go to war, he added.
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