The next commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific said Thursday he wouldn’t deviate from his predecessor’s strategy of seeking stronger military ties with China and other countries in the region despite conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who currently commands U.S. Navy forces in the Pacific and was confirmed last week as the next chief of the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command, said China has been increasing tensions in the South China Sea in recent years, pushing several of the region’s countries to seek the U.S. as their security ally.
“I think China’s actions are making countries out here—some of them—look to the U.S. as their security partner of choice, not China,” Adm. Harris said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
He said his tactics “won’t differ at all with Adm. [Samuel] Locklear. I support what he is doing completely and I don’t think you’ll see any change.”
Adm. Harris, the first Asian-American to lead the U.S. Pacific Command, said stability and predictability in the disputed area—traits that have been absent in the last few years—are U.S. priorities. Washington also is looking to establish strong relationships with countries in the region independently of China, he said. “I want my stocks to rise at a predictable pace; I don’t like this up and down stuff,” he said.