US military chief asks nations to speak on Scarborough
MANILA, Philippines – Asia-Pacific nations should speak out on the region's territorial disputes, including the ongoing Scarborough Shoal standoff, said the United States' top military official in time for a security summit Friday, June 1.
The chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen Martin Dempsey, said this can improve security in the Asia-Pacific – the topic of the 11th annual summit called the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
“What I already know is that we’ve been very clear about the need for cooperation in the maritime domain (involving) freedom of navigation,” he said. “I think that’s exactly the right position to place ourselves. But beyond that, I want to hear what these 27 nations (at the Shangri-La Dialogue) have to say, both to us and to each other – because it will clearly be one of the most prominent issues.”
'Pivot to the Pacific'
This is part of the US “pivot to the Pacific” – an objective that isn't about establishing US dominance in the Asia-Pacific, Dempsey said.
Toward this goal, Dempsey said the US wants to develop an “intellectual bandwidth.”
“We’ve developed, over the course of 10 years, a core of real experts in the Middle East,” Dempsey said. “We need to form that same core of professionals for whom (Asia-Pacific expertise) is a lifelong work.”
Following this, the US intends “to create and explore new opportunities to increase regional security,” Dempsey added. “We have to make that intellectual shift... and then listen to the signals that we receive from our partners,” he said, citing the importance of standing multinational security forums.
The US' “impartial intervention” is key to resolving the Scarborough Shoal dispute between the Philippines and China, said international relations scholar Catherine Samaniego in a commentary for the Center for Multilateral Studies at the Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“The peaceful resolution of the dispute lies in how the US successfully maneuvers between its traditional ally and its biggest competitor,” wrote Samaniego, referring to the Philippines and China. (More in the PDF below.)
China, for its part, has shown apprehension over US involvement in South China Sea disputes.
The South China Sea represents a “new Persian Gulf,” veteran China watcher Chito Sta Romana wrote in a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler. – Rappler.com