United States Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Republican Senator John McCain said the US government must uphold the principle of freedom of the seas for commercial and military purposes on, under, and below the water by sending US Navy vessels within 12 nautical miles of territories reclaimed by China in West Philippine Sea.
“The best sign of that commitment would be to conduct freedom of navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands in the South China Sea,” the Republican senator said during a hearing on US maritime strategy on Asia-Pacific September 17.
Senator McCain noted that US Navy warships continue to operate outside the 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands but China PLA Navy vessels were sent within 12 nautical miles of the Aleutian Islands as President Obama concluded his recent visit to Alaska.
He added that “the United States must continue to sustain a favorable military balance in the Asia-Pacific region. We must remain clear-eyed about the implications of China’s rapid military modernization.”