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Pacific News Minute: China Compares Its Militarization of South China Sea to US Defense of Hawaii

Times Asi / Flickr
Times Asi / Flickr

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wraps up a visit to Washington today, after talks with Secretary of State John Kerry.  Both reported progress toward a new UN Security Council resolution on North Korea, but tensions continue over disputes in the South China Sea.  China recently drew an interesting comparison - saying there's no difference between its defense of its islands and US defense of Hawaii. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

China claims that nearly all of the South China Sea is now and has always been sovereign Chinese water and that neighboring countries who control some of its islets, reefs and shoals do so illegally.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia all have claims of their own, and protest what they regard as bullying by China.

In advance of the Washington visit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that since the United States is not a party to the disputes, the South China Sea shouldn't even come up.  Indirectly confirming reports of the deployment of anti-aircraft missiles in the Paracel Islands and a high frequency radar in the Spratleys, the Foreign Ministry statement continued: "China's deploying necessary, limited defensive facilities in its own territory is not substantially different from the United States defending Hawaii."

Admiral Harry Harris, the US Commander in the Pacific, told the Senate Armed Services committee this week that he needs more ships, missiles, and aircraft to respond to what he called changes in the operational landscape in the South China Sea.  Admiral Harris asked for more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, more long range surface to surface missiles and, in particular, more attack submarines, which he described as "the most important war fighting capability we have" in the Pacific, and "our most important asymmetric advantage over China, and any other adversary."

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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