U.S. President Donald Trump has chosen Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris — known for his strident views on China’s military expansion and nuclear-armed North Korea — to be the United States’ next ambassador to Australia.

The White House announced the move in a statement Friday, calling Harris “a highly decorated, combat proven Naval officer with extensive knowledge, leadership and geo-political expertise in the Indo-Pacific region” and 39 years of experience in the U.S. Navy.

He was the first Asian-American to achieve the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy.

Harris is currently in the final year of his three-year tour as head of Pacific Command and is due to retire soon. He has been known as an outspoken backer of a strong response to China’s aggressive moves in the East and South China seas, coining the term “Great Wall of Sand” to describe Beijing’s strategy of building up and militarizing disputed features in the South China Sea.

He has echoed Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy for dealing with Pyongyang, saying in November that military-backed diplomacy is needed to deal with North Korea.

Appointing Harris as envoy to Australia will be seen as reassuring a key ally and strengthening the administration’s Asia team, which remains full of vacancies more than a year into Trump’s first term.

The admiral is known to have strong ties with military and political leaders in the country, having visited several times as head of Pacific Command.

Media reports have painted the Australian government as growing more and more concerned over the 16 month failure to appoint an ambassador, after the previous U.S. envoy, John Berry, left the post in September 2016. Although the job has been filled by the Charge d’Affaires James Carouso, it is highly unusual for such a key post to remain empty for so long.

Harris’ nomination will now go before the Senate, where he is expected to be confirmed.

But his nomination is likely to face criticism from China, of which Harris has been an outspoken critic.

In May, Kyodo News reported that Beijing had urged Washington to fire Harris in return for boosted pressure on nuclear-armed North Korea, citing an anonymous source.

Harris, who is half-Japanese and was born in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, but was raised in the United States, has long been a subject of interest for China. Beyond his Great Wall of Sand speech in March 2015 in which he denounced Beijing’s massive land-reclamation projects in the South China Sea, his heritage has also made him an attractive target for a Chinese leadership that routinely blasts Japan over an alleged lack of atonement for its brutal wartime past — often as a means of whipping up nationalist sentiment.

China’s state-run media has routinely used his ethnicity to tarnish Harris’ image, including in a February 2016 commentary by the official Xinhua News Agency.

“Some may say an overemphasis on the Japanese background about an American general is a bit unkind,” Xinhua wrote in the commentary. “But to understand the American’s sudden upgraded offensive in the South China Sea, it is simply impossible to ignore Adm. Harris’s blood, background, political inclination and values.”

Fonte: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/10/asia-pacific/politics-diplomacy-asia-pacific/trump-picks-u-s-pacific-command-chief-harry-harris-ambassador-australia/

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​Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do Central da Pauta.