Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made recent remarks at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue that clearly showed that the U.S. is not backing out against China when it comes to the issue of the South China Sea.
Carter had even promised that the U.S. will continue to send “its best people” into the Asia Pacific region. They will also be accompanied by some of the U.S.’ “most advanced capabilities.” These include F-22 and F-35 fighter jets; B-2 and B-52 bombers; the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and some of the newest U.S. surface warfare ships.
Aside from these, Carter also made sure to mention that U.S. is also making investments in a new B-21 long-range strike bomber, new undersea drones and Virginia-class submarines.
This sends a clear message to China. They can choose to negotiate its territorial disputes or simply put up a “Great Wall of self-isolation.” The U.S. has also remained adamant that it will continue with its freedom of navigation operations along the South China Sea as rumors continue to grow that China will soon implement an Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ in the disputed area.
In response to Carter’s remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that “certain countries” are merely using a negative publicity campaign regarding freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea in order to pursue “hidden motives.”
“By sensationalizing the so-called tensions in the South China Sea, and driving wedges between countries in the region, they are trying to justify their political and military involvement in the South China Sea issue,” she said.
While tensions were high at the Shangri-La dialogue, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson mad a trip to the USS John C. Stennis. For him, the situation along the South China Sea will be just fine because he believes in the abilities of the strike group stationed in the area.
“Everybody is concerned about the stability, the peacefulness and prosperity of this region, as I talk to them I know that things are going to be okay because we have the John C. Stennis Strike Group on station here in the South China Sea,” Richardson explained.
The John C. Stennis Strike Group is made up of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53. As much as 6,000 sailors are also assigned here.