Pentagon: Military facilities for Asia Pacific remain a priority

The Pentagon says its services will keep developing locations around the world for military airfields, facilities and forces.

The US and its allies in the Pacific face an increasingly aggressive China in the South China Sea.

In a press briefing Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Pentagon will “continue looking for even more places” to maintain military facilities, such as airfields and command bases, in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We have no plans to close bases. We have no plans to minimize bases. We will maintain the right number,” he added.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have grown following Chinese moves to claim airspace over the South China Sea, which is rich in fisheries and home to scores of rich fishing nations, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

Chinese construction of artificial islands and outposts has cut off access to crucial reefs and shoals in the sea, expanding Chinese military control over the strategic waterway.

Beijing’s claims are “incompatible with international law,” according to a September report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China conducts patrols in disputed waters, angering neighboring countries. In June, a Chinese plane was refused permission to land at the disputed Nansha Islands in the South China Sea by the Philippines, while last month, a Chinese plane was stopped by Vietnam from landing on an airport built on the Hughes Reef in the Spratly archipelago.

Tensions between China and the United States are growing.

Leave a Comment