Five years ago on September 25, 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping stood in the White House Rose Garden and stated “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of the Spratly Islands, and China’s outposts would not “target or impact any country.” China has instead pursued a reckless and provocative militarization of those disputed outposts, they have deployed anti-ship cruise missiles, expanded military radar and signal intelligence capabilities, constructed dozens of fighter jet hangars, and have built runways capable of accommodating combat aircraft.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses these militarized outposts as platforms of coercion to assert control over waters to which Beijing has no lawful maritime claim. They serve as staging grounds for the hundreds of maritime militia vessels and China Coast Guard ships that regularly harass civilian craft and impede legitimate law enforcement activities, offshore fishing, and hydrocarbon development by neighboring states.
The CCP does not honor its words or commitments. In recent months, we have seen an unprecedented number of states express their formal opposition at the United Nations to China’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. We urge the international community to continue to raise its opposition to this unacceptable and dangerous behavior, and to make clear to the CCP that we will hold it to account. The United States will continue to stand with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in resisting China’s coercive efforts to establish dominion over the South China Sea.