“I want to assure the American people and our allies that the United States military remains fully ready and capable to deter every threat, protect the homeland and safeguard our interests abroad,” United States Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said during a briefing on May 5.
The US defense secretary said that last week, “two US Navy ships conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to send a clear message to Beijing that we will continue to protect freedom of navigation and commerce for all nations, large and small.”
“As we continue to take care of our troops and support the President’s whole of nation response, we remain focused on our national security missions around the world. Many countries have turned inward to recover from the pandemic and in the mean time, our strategic competitors are attempting to exploit this crisis to their benefit at the expense of others,” Esper said.
“While the Chinese Communist Party ramps up its — ramps up its disinformation campaign to try to shift blame and burnish its image, we continue to see aggressive behavior by the PLA in the South China Sea, from threatening a Philippine Navy ship to sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat and intimidating other nations from engaging in offshore oil and gas development,” it added.