Golez: This is Admiral Harry Harris, the Commander of the US Pacific Command. His views on China and the South China Sea will carry a big weight in the decisions that the US will make in the Asia Pacific Region. He was restrained by the pacifist Obama administration, but this time, together with Defense Secretary Mattis, State Secretary Tillerson and President Trump himself, we can expect to see the Pacific Command and its vast air, sea and land power to lead the way in a hardline policy in the face of China's aggressiveness in the South China Sea and East China Sea. I quote from this Navy Times article:
"Harris has also developed a reputation for occasionally going too far to advance his views. During the last two years of the Obama administration, he pushed a more hard-line view of Chinese island building in the South China Sea, and has at times pushed harder than some in the previous White House were comfortable with.
"While Harris regularly cites North Korea as the single greatest threat to peace in the region, for the past two years Harris's name is more deeply tied with the standoff with China's maritime claims in the East and South China seas. In China, the 60-year-old U.S. Naval Academy graduate is widely distrusted, and his half-Japanese heritage has made him the target of racism in Chinese state media. At one point, the state outlet Xinhua claimed he is taking Japan's side in maritime disputes because of his "blood, background, political inclination and values."
"Now, as Harris comes to Capitol Hill to testify Wednesday, he'll have the attention of not just the lawmakers but of the entire Asia-Pacific region, which is on edge from rising tensions between North Korea and the U.S. that threaten to bubble over into a regional conflict. And there is good reason for that. The new administration has signaled that they see North Korea, a state protected and sponsored for years by the Chinese government, as the single greatest threat to U.S. security in the world. That puts Harris at the center of regional forces that could end in catastrophe if not carefully managed.
"In contrast with his predecessors at PACOM, Harris has been a strong and provocative voice, regularly challenging China's actions in the region and pushing for ever-stronger U.S. moves there. When asked in 2013 what was the greatest threat to security in the region, then-PACOM Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear responded "climate change." But Harris has far more assertive in his views.
"In my opinion China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea," Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016. "You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise."