The Pacific may well be the part of the world most likely to see "strategic surprise," the U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said Monday, in comments apparently referring to possible Chinese ambitions to establish Pacific-island bases.

Campbell told Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that the United States has "enormous moral, strategic, historical interests" in the Pacific but had not done enough to assist the region, unlike countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

"If you look and if you ask me, where are the places where we are most likely to see certain kinds of strategic surprise — basing or certain kinds of agreements or arrangements, it may well be in the Pacific," he told an Australia-focused panel.