Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

China general slams ‘irresponsible comments’ on S. China Sea

Mattis takes hard line on China in Singapore speech Mattis slams China on South China Sea island weaponization
Faye Gross | 02 June, 2018, 20:10

Mr Mattis, speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore, said: "Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapon systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion".

China has branded as "irresponsible" U.S. comments that it is intimidating its neighbours with its military deployment in the South China Sea.

Mattis also said the United States welcomed cooperation with China and said he had accepted Beijing's invitation to visit there soon.

Mattis specifically called out Beijing's militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, home to some of the world's busiest sea lanes.

On Sunday, the USA sailed two Navy ships near islands in the region claimed by China in Washington's latest challenge to Beijing in the sea.

The South China Sea, a key trade route, is subject to overlapping claims by six countries.

Beijing has deployed a range of military hardware including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers across the South China Sea, where it has built islets and other maritime features into hardened military facilities. "It calls into question China's broader goals", Mattis said.

China has increased military activity in the islands this past month, and the United States has responded by sending two Navy warships into the sea in a freedom of navigation operation.

Mattis acknowledged that China's militarization of islands was a reality but warned of further consequences.

"I believe there are much larger consequences in the future, when nations lose the rapport of their neighbors", Mattis said after his speech in response to a question from Bloomberg News.

The Pentagon chief said the U.S. was "steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan to provide defence articles" consistent with the "obligations set out in our Taiwan Relations Act".

US Pauses New North Korea Sanctions
He's a longtime Korean intelligence official with past involvement in many violent acts, and now he's heading to the U.S. China said it had no information to offer on any North Korean officials travelling to the United States via Beijing.


Zhao Xiaozhuo, a senior researcher at the Academy of Military Science, said that He's comments suggested the PLA might be moving closer to considering military action to "reclaim" Taiwan if Washington insisted on supporting the island's ruling, and independence-leaning, Democratic Progressive Party. China claims Taiwan as its own and it is one of its most sensitive issues.

Mattis stood on the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mattis said the Pentagon will "hold the line" and support the diplomatic effort to secure the "complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Mr. Mattis said little about North Korea in his speech, which came just hours after Mr. Trump said that the June 12 talks in Singapore with the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, were back on.

"We do not do freedom of navigation for America alone, we do freedom of navigation for all nations", Mattis said. Militarizing the islands, Mattis said, will not enhance China's standing in the world.

He did however, seek to calm nervous allies in the region.

South Korea and Japan have expressed concern that Trump may put US security interests ahead of theirs in pursuing a deal with North Korea. And he said he doesn't believe that China's actions will pay off.

Mattis said: "We are focused on modernizing our alliance with both Republic of Korea and Japan, transforming these critical alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st-century".

He returned to a theme that he and other senior U.S. officials have hammered home since Trump took office: that America is here to stay in the Asia-Pacific region and that allies should stick with Washington instead of aligning with Beijing.

"That issue will not come up in the negotiations with DPRK ... nor should it", he said, using an acronym for North Korea's official name.

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