The US State Department Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Russel, responsible for East Asian and Pacific affairs, appeared before the US Senate, May 13, to deliver a testimony regarding US role and activities in Asia-Pacific region. Russel said while US government is attending crises and challenges in different parts of the world “we are systematically implementing a comprehensive diplomatic, economic, and security strategy in Asia.”
“At the heart of our rebalance is a determination to ensure that the Asia-Pacific remains an open, inclusive, and prosperous region guided by widely accepted rules and standards and adherence to international law,” the official told Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Russel said China continues to take actions that are raising tensions and concerns throughout the region about its strategic intentions. He added that “three of China’s land fill areas are larger than the largest naturally formed island in the Spratly Islands.”
But he emphasized that under the international law “no matter how much sand you pile on a reef in the South China Sea, you can’t manufacture sovereignty.”
With him during the said hearing was David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Asia-Pacific. Shear said US Defense “maintains a robust regional presence in and around the South China Sea” that “deters provocative conduct and reduces the risk of miscalculation in the area.”
He added that US military conducts multiple port calls in and around
the South China Sea, flying regular regional ISR missions, conducting presence operations.
In conclusion, Shear said “our regional friends and partners should rest assured — we will continue to protect security and promote prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and above all, we will honor our commitments.”