The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Harry Harris, warned China to cease its aggressive island building in the South China Sea, while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on July 24. Harris argued that the bases are intended for military use against the nation’s regional neighbors, and that the Chinese government has made little effort to solve its problems diplomatically, opting instead for a military buildup in the area. China has constructed ports deep enough to host warships, as well as large airfields and runways capable of launching tactical aircraft along the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.
“Most countries choose to pursue diplomatic means to address their disputes. China, on the other hand, is changing the status quo in the region through aggressive coercive island building without meaningful diplomatic efforts toward dispute resolution or arbitration,” Harris said. “These activities are harming the environment and will not strengthen any country’s legal claims to disputed areas in the South China Sea.”