Concerns about friction in the Indo-Pacific are “alarming,” says top US admiral

SINGAPORE, March 16 (Reuters) – The current tensions in the Indo-Pacific are alarming and “trending in the wrong direction”, but the US presence was not an attempt to contain or trigger a conflict with China, a senior US admiral said on Thursday .

Admiral John Aquilino, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, said an “AUKUS” partnership between Australia, Britain and the United States to supply Australia with nuclear submarines should strengthen its defense capability.

“As good partners, the United States and the United Kingdom will step forward and help Australia defend itself,” he said after speaking in Singapore, answering a question from the audience.

“We want to move forward as quickly as possible. And as safe as possible.”

[1/3] Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, speaks at the IISS Special Lecture in Singapore March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Caroline Chia

The United States, under President Joe Biden, has recently been building alliances in the Asia-Pacific to counter China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait, while Beijing seeks to advance its territorial claims.

Aquilino said the United States did not seek conflict or contain China with its drills and patrols in the region and would not support Taiwan’s independence.

Referring to comments by China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang earlier this month that “conflict and confrontation” were inevitable without a change in Washington’s stance, Aquilino said it was important that he make sure his partners and China knew the US didn’t have one seek battle.

“There is a place for China in this world where it can play by the rules and follow as we all do,” he said.

Reporting by Xinghui Kok; Edited by Martin Petty

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Xinghui Kok

Thomson Reuters

Xinghui heads the Singapore office and oversees coverage of one of the region’s leading economies and Southeast Asia’s most important financial center. This ranges from macroeconomics to monetary policy, property, politics, public health and socio-economic issues. She also keeps an eye on things unique to Singapore, such as how it repealed an anti-gay sex law but bucks global trends by pursuing policies unfavorable to LGBT families. Xinghui previously covered Asia from the South China Morning Post and has been in journalism for a decade.


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