19.1.17

PACOM Commander comments on the South China Sea

In the same forum, ADM Harris went on to discuss the U.S. stance on China’s construction and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea: “we will not allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally -- no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea.”
The Cipher Take: Harris’s comments on the South China Sea are consistent with the United States’ longstanding policy regarding it and other maritime regions. However, Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump’s pick for secretary of state, made comments in his recent confirmation hearing that took that stance one step further, and have the potential to escalate the U.S. stance on the South China Sea: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.” Once Trump takes office, determining whether U.S. policy on this issue will change or remain the same will be one of his most important foreign policy decisions.

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