PENTAGON - The U.S. response to China’s controversial actions in the South China Sea is “consistency,” the Navy’s top admiral said.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with VOA, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said the United States Navy has been “at about the same force levels” in the South China Sea for about 70 years.
“Nothing has elevated too much or decreased too much. We've been pretty steady,” he said.
China and the U.S. strongly disagree on territorial claims in the sea's international waterways.
China considers much of the sea its territory — overlapping with the territorial claims of other nations — and has created hundreds of hectares of artificial islands to bolster is territorial claims.
The U.S. frequently conducts freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to dispute China's claims and to promote free passage through international waters that carry half the world's merchant fleet tonnage, worth trillions of dollars each year.
Richardson said the U.S. Navy has advocated rules and norms that have “fueled the emergence of the Asian economies.”
“We're going to consistently be there,” Richardson said, “and we'll be ready to advocate for those up and down the spectrum of competition, as needed.”