“Very likely, this trend will continue in coming years.”
Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta laid out the details of the firepower the Obama administration plans to swing to the Asia-Pacific region.
As part of the strategic pivot unveiled in January, the United States will deploy 60 per cent of its warships in the Asia-Pacific, up from 50 per cent now. They will include six aircraft carriers and a majority of the U.S. navy’s cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines.
“Make no mistake, in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way, the United States military is rebalancing and bringing an enhanced capability development to this vital region,” Panetta told the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security conference in Singapore attended by civilian and military leaders from Asia-Pacific and Western nations.
For some of China’s smaller neighbours like the Philippines, there is a pressing urgency to build warmer security ties with Washington.
A two-month standoff between the Philippines and China over Scarborough Shoal shows no sign of resolution, with both sides deploying paramilitary ships and fishing boats to the disputed chain of rocks, reefs and small islands about 220 km (130 miles) from the Philippines.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino met President Barack Obama on Friday at the White House, where the two discussed expanding military and economic ties.
Obama later told reporters that clear, international rules were needed to resolve maritime disputes in the South China Sea.