The United States Navy’s response to China’s “aggressive behavior” in the South China Sea and the recent incident involving a Chinese coast guard ship using a water cannon against a Philippine vessel and emphasizes the need to challenge and counter such actions.
US Navy Seventh Fleet Stands Firm Against China’s Provocations in the South China Sea
VOA News – Amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, the commander of the US Navy Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, has underscored the need to counter China’s “aggressive behavior” in the region. This comes after a recent incident where a Chinese coast guard ship used a water cannon against a Philippine vessel. Speaking from the headquarters in Japan, Thomas expressed his commitment to addressing shared challenges in the area and offered assurance of U.S. support to the Philippines.
The US Navy Seventh Fleet forward-deployed fleets, commands a substantial presence in the region. With around 70 ships, over 150 aircraft, and more than 27,000 sailors, it operates across a vast expanse of 124 million square kilometers (48 million square miles), with bases in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.
The commander of the US Navy Seventh Fleet, Thomas, emphasized the importance of pushing back against actions that fall within a “grey zone,” where assertive behavior tests the boundaries without direct confrontation. He cited the incident on August 5, in which a Chinese coast guard vessel deployed a water cannon against a Philippine boat. This occurrence highlights the complex rivalry between the United States and China in the South China Sea, a strategic fault line.
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US Navy Seventh Fleet and Regional Allies Address China’s South China Sea Actions
According to the article of Reuters, the US Navy Seventh Fleet also maintains active communication and collaboration with regional partners. Thomas engaged in discussions with Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, in charge of the Philippine Western Command, to better understand the operational challenges faced by the Philippines. The US Navy Seventh Fleet seeks to provide assistance where possible, fostering a united approach to the shared challenges presented by China’s territorial assertions.
China’s actions in the South China Sea have drawn international attention and concern. The Philippines secured an international arbitration award against China in 2016, invalidating Beijing’s extensive claims to sovereignty over most of the region. China’s construction of militarized artificial islands and overlapping claims with the exclusive economic zones of neighboring nations have created a complex geopolitical landscape.