Defense Secretary Mattis Warns Of Chinese Intimidation In Disputed Waterway

Defense Secretary Mattis Warns Of Chinese Intimidation In Disputed Waterway

Defense Secretary Mattis Warns Of Chinese Intimidation In Disputed Waterway

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said China's military buildup in the South China Sea and its deployment of high-end weapons systems in the disputed waterway is created to intimidate and coerce neighbours.

China has also landed heavy bombers on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.

It comes days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was said to have threatened war if his troops were harmed in the area, which his country also lays claim to.

"Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion", the defence secretary said.

"China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promotes", he continued.

He said the U.S. "will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperation when possible, and competing vigorously where we must".

"We did not do freedom of navigation for America alone, we do freedom of navigation, give freedom for all nations, large and small, that need to transit those waters for their own prosperity and they have every reason to do so", he said.

Last Sunday, Beijing protested what it called a "provocation" after U.S. warships came within 12 nautical miles (around 22km) of the disputed Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.

A Chinese general immediately lashed out at "irresponsible comments" made by Mattis.

Satellite images of the Hughes and Gaven reefs also showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes.

Andrew Yang, a former Taiwanese defence minister who is also at the security conference in Singapore, said he expected the U.S. to tread carefully on the Taiwan issue so as not to provoke the mainland into taking military action against the self-ruled island.

US Defense Secretary slammed China for building up military presence on artificial South China Sea islands and threatening Taiwan.

In a meeting with former President Barack Obama during a visit to the U.S. in 2015, China's President Xi Jinping denied the country had plans to establish military strongholds in the South China Sea. "This is not a revisionist view", Mattis said.

The remarks come amid growing discord between China and the U-S over the disputed waters and islands.

President Donald Trump talks with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as they walk from their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2018.

He added that the status of U.S. troops in South Korea was not on the table when Mr Trump and Mr Kim meet, but left the door open to the issue being discussed down the road between Seoul and Washington if certain conditions were met.

Mattis made clear that the US does not expect nations to choose between the USA and China, adding that Beijing should have a voice in shaping the region, while allies have a voice in shaping China's role.

The US wanted complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he added.

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