19 March 2015
LANGKAWI — The commander of the United States Navy Seventh Fleet has called on South-east Asian nations to form a combined maritime force to patrol areas of the South China Sea where territorial tensions flare with China.
Countries could streamline cooperation on maritime security while respecting sovereignty and coastal space, as in the case of counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, Vice-Admiral Robert Thomas said at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia.
The US has reassured allies in the region it will back them against China’s assertions to about four-fifths of the sea. China has ratcheted up pressure on some Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and has accelerated reclamation work on reefs in the waters crisscrossed by claims from Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia.
…The maritime force is “a nice idea, but it’ll never be anything meaningful”, said Mr Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “Creating interoperability will be a nightmare — you need common communications equipment, intelligence-sharing agreements. Above all, you need a common threat perception.”
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 23/11/2015