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NEWS | May 30, 2014

‘Friction Points’ Stoke Asia Tensions, Locklear Says

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

The situation in Asia has become more serious in recent months, with nations engaging in territorial disputes at “friction points,” the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said here today.

In an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said these friction points -- primarily areas of the East China Sea and the South China Sea -- endanger stability not only in this part of the world, “but in the entire interconnected economic global system.”

Nations need to be careful about their rhetoric and provocative acts, the admiral said, because these could escalate.

Territorial disputes must be solved by negotiation and legal remedies, Locklear said. “We encourage all nations in the region to avoid all provocation, and avoid miscalculation,” he added.

Tensions and disagreements are inevitable, Locklear said, but security and stability demand other ways of solving these frictions.

The United States is a Pacific nation, he noted, and America has been involved in security in the region since the early 1800s. “For about the last 70 years, we have been the centerpiece of the security architecture here,” Locklear said. “In that 70 years, the peace and prosperity has helped not only the American people, but has helped the people of every country in this region.”

U.S. security in the Pacific allowed Japan, South Korea and the nations of Southeast Asia to prosper. The American security has affected the Indian Ocean nations. China, too, has benefitted from the stability American security fosters, the admiral said.

“What we aim for in this century is another 70 years of peace and prosperity,” Locklear said. “The U.S. doesn’t need to be the guarantor of security, but we will certainly remain here and participate.”

Pacom’s role is to ensure U.S. interests are protected and that American allies are protected, and to be a stabilizing influence, Locklear said. This means engagement and maintaining dialogue with nations across the spectrum, he added.

“The United States has many, many, many things in common with China,” said Locklear, noting both nations need and desire peace and stability in the Pacific region.

Locklear is in Singapore to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asia security conference.

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