Mattis warns China over South China Sea

Larry Hoffman
June 7, 2018

Mr Mattis's comments drew a pointed reaction from a Chinese official at the meeting.

"I think all regional countries with the sharp eyes hope the USA can play a constructive role, and not be a destroyer but a contributor to the regional peace and stability", Hua said.

Mr Mattis responded that the question reflected a fundamental disconnect with the way worldwide tribunals have spoken on the matter.

The current situation in the South China Sea has calmed down visibly as a result of the joint efforts of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said.

Gen Mattis said the issue of removing USA troops from South Korea was "not on the table" and that "our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

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

He said Asia can only prosper under the rule of law, and stressed the importance of a rule-based worldwide order.

"India stands for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity", he said, using the term Indo-Pacific, which has become increasingly used by diplomats in the U.S., Australia, India and Japan to refer to the region instead of Asia-Pacific, which was seen as placing China too firmly at the center.

Despite strong mutual suspicions, the United States had included China in the past two versions of the naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, in 2014 and 2016.

China advocates the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, takes win-win cooperation as the core of new global relations based on partnerships instead of alliances, and strives to pursue a new path of security which is built by all, shared by all, win-win for all and safeguarded by all, He said.

Gen Mattis was speaking just 10 days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

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

Several hours later, China's Lieutenant General He Le slammed "irresponsible comments from other countries". China protested the move.

"The facilities and buildings flanked by radar equipment on the tiny islands ... are not for civilian use, but are large-scale military complexes", he said. Washington had called on Beijing to remove these systems, AP reported. He Lei, vice president of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, said.

At the same news conference, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also confirmed China's development of its latest-model type 055 guided missile destroyer, which weighs 10,000 tons and features both stealth design and a land-attack capability.

But he says the USA welcomes cooperation with China wherever possible, and says he accepted Beijing's invitation to visit there soon.

"We have seen those who wanted to dominate the region come and go, and we have been with you", Mattis said.

Royal Navy frigates HMS Sutherland and HMS Argyll and amphibious assault HMS Albion are being deployed to "send a clear message" to China and North Korea, Williamson said.

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