Countries across Asia-Pacific region have been voicing concern over massive Chinese militarisation and assertiveness, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said, noting Beijing's actions in the disputed South China Sea are raising regional tensions.
"Recently not all the news out of the Asia-Pacific has been positive: indeed, in the South China Sea, China's actions in particular are raising regional tensions," Carter said in his remarks before Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank, on the eve of his departure for a visit to India and the Philippines.
"That's why countries across the Asia-Pacific are voicing concern with militarisation, and especially over the last year with China's actions, which stand out in size and scope... they're voicing those concerns publicly and privately, at the highest levels, in regional meetings and global fora," Carter said.
This is the reason why many of those countries are reaching out anew to the US to uphold the rules and principles that have allowed the region to thrive, he said. "That's why we support intensified regional diplomacy, not increased tensions, the threat of force, or unilateral changes to the status quo," he added.
"And that's one reason why we are making enormous investments in our capabilities; why so many are asking us to do more with them; and why we'll continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. Because we must continue the progress that has helped so many in the region rise and prosper," Carter insisted.