China had no right to seize an unmanned United States oceanographic vessel in the South China Sea, and the action "fits a pattern of increasingly destabilizing Chinese behavior," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Saturday morning.
"The Chinese Navy's seizure of a U.S. unmanned oceanographic vessel in international waters is a flagrant violation of the freedom of the seas," said the Arizona Republican, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement. "China had no right to seize this vehicle. And the United States must not stand for such outrageous conduct."
However, McCain said the provocation fits China's pattern of behavior, which includes "bullying its neighbors and militarizing the South China Sea."
That will continue unless the United States responds in a "strong and determined way," said McCain, but the Obama administration has failed to provide that.
"Freedom of the seas and the principles of the rules-based order are not self-enforcing," said McCain. "American leadership is required in their defense. But that leadership has been sorely lacking."
China is not committed to peace, he continued.
"We are confronting an assertive China that has demonstrated its willingness to use intimidation and coercion to disrupt the rules-based order that has been the foundation of security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region for seven decades," said McCain. "As I have said repeatedly, we must adapt U.S. policy and strategy to reflect this reality and ensure we have the necessary military forces, capabilities, and posture in the region to deter, and if necessary, defeat aggression."
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