US Admiral Stops Short of Calling China an 'Adversary'

© AP Photo / Xinhua, Gan JunChina's amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China's Hainan Province in the South China Sea.
China's amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China's Hainan Province in the South China Sea. - Sputnik International
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When asked whether he considered China to be Washington's adversary, Admiral John M. Richardson, expected to become the next Chief of Naval Operations, replied that some of Beijing's activities are "adversarial" in their nature, adding fuel to the flames of the already strained bilateral relations.

"China is a complex nation. Many of the things they're doing have an adversarial nature to them," the current Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program said during a confirmation hearing in Senate Armed Services Committee referring to China's land reclamation project in the South China Sea.

The admiral called China's peaceful endeavor on the Spratly Islands "destabilizing for the region," adding that it "has increased the risk of miscalculation or conflict among regional actors."

© REUTERS / U.S. Navy/Handout via ReutersChinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still file image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy
Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still file image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy - Sputnik International
Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still file image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy

U.S. warships are seen docked at Subic bay in Olongapo city, north of Manila, Philippines in this October 14, 2014 file photo - Sputnik International
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Beijing has insisted that it is the US' meddling in the Asia-Pacific, including deepening defense alliance with Japan, as well as military buildup and increased war-games in the area, that could jeopardize regional security and lead to maritime or air accidents.

On Friday, Xinhua quoted China's Defense Ministry as saying that it was paying close attention to Washington's attempts to "militarize" the region.

Beijing considers most parts of the South China Sea its own territory but Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have made overlapping claims over this part of the Pacific Ocean. Washington is not a party to the various territorial disputes in the region and claims not to be taking sides.

© Sputnik / Vitalty PodvitskiGame Of Clones
Game Of Clones  - Sputnik International
Game Of Clones

"We do have a national security interest in ensuring disputes are resolved peacefully, countries adhere to the rule of law, and all nations fully respect freedom of the seas," the admiral said in a written testimony, which is exactly what Beijing is doing.

Crew members aboard a P-8A Poseidon. - Sputnik International
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China has repeatedly urged its neighbors to settle all territorial disputes through bilateral talks and has no intention of doing anything that could impact negatively on one of the key waterways globally, serving as a major artery for the world's commercial shipping.

Beijing has always insisted that the construction on the Spratlys is purely peaceful in its nature. The reclamation efforts will "help maintain the safety of navigation in the region and meet strict environmental standards and requirements," Yang Yujun added.

Although many countries are engaged in land reclamation projects in the South China Sea, Washington has been especially critical of Beijing.

"The United States remains quiet when countries like the Philippines carry out large-scale construction projects and deploy armaments on China's islands which they illegally occupied. But the US makes irresponsible remarks about China's rightful activities on its own soil. This is a classic case of double standards," Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the ministry, noted.

© Flickr / U.S. Pacific FleetLittoral combat ship USS conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea
Littoral combat ship USS conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea  - Sputnik International
Littoral combat ship USS conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea
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