US Indo Pacific Command chief says collaboration key to keeping region free and open

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HALIFAX — The head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is calling for greater collaboration between like-minded nations and allies to preserve freedom and openness in the region.

U.S. Adm. John C. Aquilino says international norms and values, like mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and human rights, have allowed the Indo-Pacific region to prosper and grow into an economic and military powerhouse.

But he says revisionist and autocratic powers are increasingly seeking to disrupt those rules-based orders, including freedom of navigation, using coercion and intimidation.

One recent incident saw Chinese coast guard ships block and spray water at two Philippine boats carrying supplies to a disputed South China Sea shoal.

Aquilino says co-operation between allies and partners in the region through activities like a recent joint naval exercise help demonstrate the fundamental importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

His comments at the annual Halifax International Security Forum come as China's increasingly bold military actions stoke tensions in the region.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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