“Our forces continually monitor exercises throughout the region to include the recent PLA (People’s Liberation Army) exercise that you mentioned, and our naval forces remain ready to respond to any threats to our allies or partners throughout the region,” US Navy 3rd Fleet commander Vice Admiral Scott D. Conn said during a telephone briefing hosted by US Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub August 27.
The US Navy official made the statement when asked about Chinese military’s drills and firing of two missiles into the South China Sea coinciding with RIMPAC 2020 in waters around Hawaii.
“China, I’m aware of their exercise. As long as they’re doing it in accordance with international law and norms, they have every right to do so,” Vice Admiral Conn said.
He also said he “wouldn’t label them as dueling exercises.”
“I would think one of the main differences that I’m aware is that I have 10 nations here participating in our exercises; I’m pretty sure the number of nations participating in China’s exercise is probably less than two,” he added.
“And in terms of launching of the ballistic missiles, the U.S. Navy has 38 ships underway today in the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, and we continue to fly and sail and operate anywhere international law allows to demonstrate our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and reassure our allies and partners,” Conn said.