New Delhi: Recognising the clear and present threats to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, Chief of US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris Jr. said on Thursday that threat from North Korea and challenge from China is a big burden.
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, Admiral Harris Jr. said - without taking names - that several countries in the Indo-Pacific region are detrimental to stability in the region. "There are nations, entities in Indo-Pacific region that are disrupting potential for prosperity, openness & inclusivity," he said. "As like-minded democratic nations, we are burdened by an immediate threat from North Korea, long-term challenge that China poses and terrorism is real in Indo Pacific region in 2018. Multilateralism is way ahead."
The US has for long maintained a strong presence in the Pacific and has several military bases in the Indo-Pacific region as well. In recent years though, China has stepped up naval activity as well maintaining that its merchant vessels need a safe passage. Many security experts however suspect that active patrolling by ships, cruisers and even submarines point to something larger.
The US is wary about China's possible designs in the region even as it keeps a close watch on an increasingly volatile North Korea. A Republican Study Committee report last year had stated that China is knocking on the doors of several sovereign nations in the region - many of whom are key US allies. "While tensions between China and Taiwan have persisted since the 1950s, China has now mounted an aggressive and expansionist policy towards other nations in the region in order to enlarge their sphere of influence," the report read. "The Chinese have done so at the expense of established borders and the sovereignty of other countries, many of which are key US allies. Small and remote islands like the Senkaku Island chain, as well as the Spratly and Paracel Islands, are now being threatened by China's Navy."
India too is keeping a close eye and reports of China possibly docking a nuclear submarine at Pakistan's Gwadar Port has caused some degree of alarm.