Sasakawa USA’s Adm. Dennis Blair is featured prominently in an episode of “Four Corners,” a 45-minute long news program on current affairs that airs on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The episode, entitled “China Rising,” focuses on Australia’s role in the South China Sea, where both the United States and China seek military dominance.
“Both the United States and China, I’m convinced, do not want to go to war, but nonetheless, they want to demonstrate support for what they think are their rights and responsibilities in the region,” Blair told program host Peter Greste in the episode, saying recent activities China has undertaken to build up previously unoccupied islands in the South China Sea have added tensions to the region.
“China really has a land-based attitude, that [the South China Sea] should be their territory, in which there should be no military force of any other kind – that it should only be occupied by China,” Blair said. “The United States has the view that these are international waterways, which for the United States, for years, have been what we have used to reach our allies, to support our interests… And if the Chinese had their way, and the entire South China Sea were their own territory which they could keep the United States and other armed forces from operating in, it would be absolutely intolerable for the U.S. And we’re not going to allow it to happen.”
He also noted an “inability for the two of us to understand what’s going on on the other side and to find compromises that we can both live with. We seem to have to deal by a series of concessions or wins in the relationship, and that’s the kind of relationship that can sort of escalate up over time.”
The full episode explores how Australia is trying to balance the competing interests of having the U.S. as its principal ally yet China as its largest trading partner, before delving into China’s military expansion in the South China Sea and other related issues.