US warns of ability to take down Chinese man-made islands
A Pentagon official has warned China that the US military could “take down” Beijing’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.
“I would just tell you that the United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands,” Pentagon’s Joint Staff director said on Thursday in response to a reporter asking about whether the US has ability to “blow apart” China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea.
The indirect threat against China by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie came amid heightened tensions brewing between China and the US military in the South China Sea.
“We have a lot of experience, in the Second World War, taking down small islands that are isolated,” McKenzie added later in the briefing that he was stating “historical fact” and not trying to send a message to China.
China has dismissed US official’s claims of militarization.
Beijing claims sovereignty over the South China Sea and the islands in it.
However, the US has ramped up freedom of navigation operations in the hotly-contested region.
The naval operations have been a source of tensions in the disputed waters claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Outgoing US Pacific Command head, Admiral Harry Harris said on Thursday that China's growing power in Asia would presents the greatest challenge to the US.
“China remains our biggest long-term challenge. Without focused involvement and engagement by the United States and our allies and partners China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia," he said.
Admiral Harris made the remarks at a ceremony in Hawaii where he handed over leadership of the US regional command.