US: Defense outlook on Asia-Pacific unlikely to change
There have been fears among some of Washington’s allies that President-elect Donald Trump could backtrack on the ‘Asia pivot’, which has seen US shift energies from the Middle East to the Pacific.
But senior US military officer Admiral Harry Harris said earlier this week that the new US administration could not shake the country’s resolve to maintain peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.
Speaking during the annual Defense One summit in Washington DC, the Commander of US Pacific Command sought to reassure allies in the Asia-Pacific region that their security is integral to that of the US.
Harris said that while he could not predict the potential policy initiatives of the incoming administration, he had “no doubt we’ll continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
The region is home to a number of countries with which the US has had strained relations in recent months, including the Philippines and North Korea.
China has also posed a significant security challenge, with reports that it is constructing islands and military bases in the disputed South China Sea.
However, Harris said that military relations with China are “actually good,” adding that the US military will try to cooperate with China through conducting joint military exercises – some scheduled for this week – but will remain prepared for confrontation when necessary.
“America never has a lame duck commander-in-chief,” Harris said, indicating that US President Barack Obama will remain engaged in the region until his term ends in mid January.
But on one front, Obama is already in retreat, and nowhere more visibly than when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).