Any move by China to fly jet fighters from runways on its new man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea would be destabilizing and would not deter U.S. flights over the area, a senior U.S. naval officer said on Monday. Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, also urged Beijing to be more open over its intentions in the South China Sea, saying it would relieve “some of the angst we are now seeing”.

“We are unsure where they are taking us,” Aucoin said of China’s recent moves during briefing with journalists in Singapore. “So we are going to sail, fly, operate throughout these waters….like we have been doing for so long,” he said. That, he added, included “flying over that airspace.” Chinese and regional security analysts expect Beijing to start using its new runways in the disputed Spratlys archipelago for military operations in the next few months. READ MORE