By: Alex HenshawThe US and China are looking to establish an “arms race” in the Pacific region, with the US expanding its naval presence in the South China Sea and China ramping up its military presence in East Asia.
The US is already building military bases in the region, including a naval base on Woody Island, a naval airbase at Subic Bay, a marine facility in the Spratly Islands, and two airstrips in the Paracels.
The Pentagon says it is considering building more than 10 aircraft carriers and submarines, but has not specified when.
China is also developing new naval platforms, including the Liaoning, which the US says it plans to replace with the Liaosong.
A report by the Pentagon’s inspector general found that US officials have not adequately consulted with China on the new technology it plans for the new carriers.US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter says the report shows that the US and its allies are making the right decisions.
Carter said he expects that the Chinese military will eventually be able to strike a balance between “national security and commercial interests”.
He said the US has done “a good job” of “pursuing the right things” with regards to the “balance” in international relations, but the US is “not a leader in that area”.
Carter said the Pentagon would “continue to work on our relationships with all countries, but we need to be able make the right decision for our security, our economy, and our people”.
“We have to have the right balance,” Carter said.
“That is our responsibility as a country, not the government.”
Carter added that he would be “concerned” if China did not take steps to protect the islands and other reefs that are claimed by China.
The report also said the United States was “deeply concerned” by the rise in tensions in the Asia-Pacific, which include the South and East China seas.
It also said China’s militarisation of the South East China Sea has made the region “increasingly volatile and uncertain”.
It also highlighted concerns about the impact of the US-China Free Trade Agreement, which will enter into force in 2017.
The Asia-Atlantic Economic Cooperation (AEEAC), the world’s largest free trade bloc, is due to open in late 2019 in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the third largest city in the world.
China has previously said the move would benefit its economy, but it has not yet provided details on the economic benefits.US officials have previously said they expect the agreement will lead to a stronger US presence in Asia.