U.S. defense chief Jim Mattis rebukes Chinese 'intimidation' in South China Sea

Minnie Murray
June 5, 2018

The, a state backed Chinese tabloid that does not reflect official policy, said in an editorial on Thursday that China must prepare to forcefully respond to any "extreme" U.S. interference in the South China Sea.

Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, Minister Lich said: "The peaceful means of dialogue, instead of confrontation, the threat to use force or unilateral action, is really the best solution, which can resolve multiple issues on the basis of common interest, respect for global laws and regional institutions".

In a dig at China, which the Pentagon has accused of using "predatory" economics to exploit neighbours, Mattis said the U.S. supports the peaceful resolution of disputes, "free, fair and reciprocal trade and investment" and adherence to worldwide rules and norms.

"China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness that our strategy promotes, it calls into question China's broader goals", said Mattis who is scheduled to visit Beijing later this month.

He told the security summit that Beijing had deployed military hardware including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to locations across the South China Sea.

The two countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, made the remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, echoing the latest U.S. plan to ramp up its freedom of navigation operations to counter Beijing's militarisation in the region and its stance that territorial disputes should be a matter between China and its Asian neighbours.

Last week, two United States warships came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands - which are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan - and carried out manoeuvring operations. He Lei said violation of China's sovereignty will not be allowed, and Senior Col. Zhou Bo of Beijing's defense ministry said the limit is 12 nautical miles from Chinese-controlled isles and reefs, including the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands.

"Currently so far it's a so-called new normal", Lin Chong-pin, retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan, said of the US ship movement.

"It's clear to me from the conversations I've had, not just the past week but beyond, that China's actions are increasingly alienating many countries because they threaten the ability of countries to determine their own future, to provide for their people", Thornberry said. Weaker than China militarily but keen on access to the sea's natural resources such as oil deposits, they resent China for placing military infrastructure on the tiny islands. China protested the move.

China's delegation at the conference is being led by Lt. Gen.

"Co-operation whenever possible will be the name of the game and competing vigorously where we must. of course we recognise any sustainable Indo-Pacific order has a role for China".

Backing the remarks by his defense secretary, President Donald Trump said on Twitter, "Very surprised that China would be doing this?"

The situation of the South China Sea has been stabilized and changing for the better without any major conflict or dispute, thanks to the joint efforts of China and related countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), He told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Shangri-la Dialogue.

He also said the U.S. recognised that China had a role to play in the region.

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