AP Interview: Adm. Concerned About South China Sea

Published January 18, 2012 2:00AM (EST)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — The U.S. Navy's top commander in the Pacific says he's concerned local arguments in disputed oil rich waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea could escalate into larger, more serious confrontations.

Adm. Patrick Walsh says there's potential for an incident in the South China Sea to intensify much the way tensions between China and Japan spiked after ships belonging to the Asian powers collided near the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands claimed by both nations in 2010.

Walsh spoke to The Associated Press in an interview at Pearl Harbor on Tuesday, a few days before he is scheduled to retire and hand over the Pacific Fleet command to Vice Adm. Cecil Haney.

Six Asian nations claim all or part of the Spratly islands in the South China Sea.

By Salon Staff

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