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Statement by Ben Carson on the Deployment of Air Defense Missiles on Disputed Woody Island

February 18, 2016

China has deployed sophisticated air defense missiles on a contested island near the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea. The missiles could threaten aircraft flying over the strategically significant body of water, through which more than $5 billion in commerce passes annually. China's action is the latest in a series of provocations from Beijing, which has created worrisome, potential impediments to the world's access to vital shipping lanes and air corridors, and has threatened the interests of America's allies, partners and friends in Asia.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has stood by as China has undertaken large-scale construction and purposeful militarization of hotly disputed maritime territory throughout the South China Sea. The President has registered feeble protests against Chinese provocations, while failing to reassure anyone that America would safeguard peace and security in Asia.

President Obama's failures of leadership threaten to undermine the U.S.-led order in Asia and emboldens China to assert its dubious territorial claims in even more aggressive and potentially threatening ways. Even some of the Obama administration's recent operations to uphold the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea have been undermined by apologies for other lawful U.S. military actions in the region.

As President, I will replace such weakness with firm resolve and global leadership, including ordering our Navy and Air Force to routinely conduct robust freedom of navigation operations throughout the region. Unlike President Obama, I will not apologize for conducting America's military operations according to international law; and freedom of navigation will be asserted by the full might of the United States Navy and Air Force. To counter China's rising influence, I will maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region, and will strengthen America's military cooperation with friendly Asian countries, while promoting their cooperation with each other.

Under a Carson administration, friends and foes alike will know that the United States will ensure access to the global commons and defend its interests and its allies around the world.

Ben Carson, Statement by Ben Carson on the Deployment of Air Defense Missiles on Disputed Woody Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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