by James Holbrooks, Underground Reporter:
In a congressional hearing on Wednesday, former Director of National Intelligence and retired Navy admiral Dennis Blair told the panel that the United States should be prepared to use military force to oppose Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
“I think we need to have some specific lines and then encourage China to compromise on some of its objectives,” Blair, who headed the U.S. Pacific Command while in the Navy, said at the hearing.
The admiral’s recommendation came the day after a United Nations tribunal invalidated China’s claim of territorial rights to nearly all of the waters in the South China Sea. Other nations in the region — including the Philippines, who brought the action against China in 2013 — also claim sovereignty in that zone.
The U.S., citing the territorial dispute and security concerns raised by its allies in the region, have for months been sending warships into the South China Sea as a check against Chinese hostility.
Beijing, acutely aware of the military buildup off its coast, has publicly warned the U.S. it’s more than ready to defend against provocations.
“China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks,” an editorial in one of the country’s state-run newspapers said last week, “but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations.”
Hanging above the whole affair is the fact that China, long before Tuesday’s ruling, had repeatedly stated it has no intention of abiding by the U.N.’s decision. And within hours after the tribunal’s verdict, China doubled down on that stance by raising the possibility that it would erect an “air defense identification zone” over the South China Sea.
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