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US admiral Locklear: ‘Winner-take-all’ tack won’t solve Asia rows

/ 06:24 AM May 24, 2014

Admiral Samuel Locklear III, commander of US Pacific Command. AFP

The US military’s commander in the Pacific called for compromise in Asia’s worsening maritime territorial rows, cautioning against a “winner-take-all” strategy that some nations feared China was pursuing.

US Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Locklear said on Friday that the region had become the world’s “most militarized” amid rapid economic growth, deepening the importance of dialogue to ensure the disputes did not lead to armed conflict.

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Compromise, dialogue

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“What’s going to underlie that most importantly is a commitment to the rule of law, a commitment to international forums to solve problems and to solve disputes,” Locklear told a World Economic Forum meeting being held in Manila.

“You can’t have a winner-take-all attitude. It will require compromise. It will require dialogue,” Locklear said of the various territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea that have endured for decades, but worsened in recent years amid perceived rising assertiveness from China.

China is claiming most of the South China Sea, even waters close to the shores of its neighbors, and more than 1,000 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese landmass.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are claiming parts of

the sea, which is home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas.

The disputes have for decades been regarded as a potential trigger for military conflict, and those concerns have risen amid the rising tensions between China and some of its neighbors, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam.

China sent a deep-water oil drilling rig into contested waters this month, sparking violent protests in Vietnam in which at least four Chinese were reported killed.

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‘Threatened peace’

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Wednesday that China’s decision to deploy the oil rig had “seriously threatened peace.”

Locklear meanwhile defended US efforts to build up security alliances in Asia, including  countries that have territorial disputes with China, following criticism by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Locklear said these alliances, some going back to the end of World War II, had “generally underwritten security” in the region.

“Things that we’ve done here (have) helped our economy, (have) helped the global economy and I would say (have) helped China as (they) had helped everybody in this region as well,” he said.

Xi voiced concern on Wednesday at a Chinese-run security forum in Shanghai over the United States deepening its military alliances in Asia, indicating that China felt it was being targeted.

“To beef up an entrenched or military alliance targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining common security,” Xi told an Asian regional security forum in Shanghai.  AFP

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TAGS: China, Pacific, Samuel Locklear, Territorial Rows, United States, US military, US Pacific Fleet
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