Concerns about Indo-Pacific friction ‘alarming’, US admiral says

SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) – The current friction in the Indo-Pacific is alarming and “a trend in the wrong direction”, but the US presence was not an attempt to contain or eliminate conflict with China invite, a senior US admiral said Thursday.

Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said an “AUKUS” partnership between Australia, Britain and the United States to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines would enhance its defense capabilities.

“As good partners, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue and help to enable Australia to defend itself,” he said after a lecture in Singapore, answering a question from the audience.

“We plan to go as soon as possible. And as safely as possible.”

The United States under President Joe Biden has recently strengthened alliances in the Asia-Pacific in an effort to counter China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and over the Taiwan Strait as Beijing seeks to advance its territorial claims.

Aquilino said the United States, with its exercises and patrols in the region, was not looking for conflict or containment of China, and would not support Taiwan’s independence.

Referring to comments made by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang earlier this month that “conflicts and confrontations” would be inevitable without a change in Washington’s attitude, Aquilino said it was important he made sure his partners and China knew that the US was not looking for a fight.

“There is a place for China in this world to play by the rules and follow the rules as we all do,” he said.

Reporting by Xinghui Kok; Edited by Martin Petty

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

Xinghui Cook

Thomson Reuters

Xinghui heads the Singapore bureau and leads coverage of one of the region’s major economies and Southeast Asia’s leading financial center. This ranges from macroeconomics to monetary policy, property, politics, public health and socio-economic issues. She also keeps an eye on things unique to Singapore, such as how it has repealed an anti-gay sex law but bucks global trends by enforcing policies unfavorable to LGBT families. Xinghui previously covered Asia for the South China Morning Post and has been in journalism for ten years.

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