The United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned China on Saturday that the United States, despite having no territorial claims in Asia, will not “look the other way” if the international order was challenged.
The Defense Secretary spoke at an Asia-Pacific security forum in Singapore, Hagel, which emphasized the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and gave details about the robust United States strategic policies that are to be implemented in Asia.
The comments came after the backdrop of heightened tension between China and United States. The secretary, in his statement, gave a blunt warning to Beijing and said that even though the United States had “no position on territorial claims,” it was committed to the freedom of navigation and flights over the South China Sea.
“The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged,” he said. Calling the South China Sea “the beating heart of the Asia-Pacific and a crossroads for the global economy,” Hagel said there was a need to establish a cooperative regional architecture and resolve disputes peacefully. He pledged to enhance the defense capabilities of America’s regional allies.
China has claimed that almost all of the South China Seas, an area which is rich in oil and gas, belongs to the nation and dismisses rival claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.