Defense Secretary Says US Will Push Back Against Beijing's 'Intimidation and Coercion'
07 June, 2018, 08:34 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
Mattis's address in Singapore returned to a theme that he and other senior USA 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. It remains to be seen if that invitation will stand after this conference.
The U.S. military presence in the South China Sea is greater than that of China's and that of other countries that surround the seas combined.
Critics say the patrols have little impact on Beijing and mask the lack of a broader strategy to deal with the growing influence of China. Mattis responded by saying there is a "fundamental disconnect" between China's views on the waters and how worldwide tribunals view them.
Mattis acknowledged that was a relatively small penalty for China to pay, and that the region would be "dealing with the reality" of its territorial claims over a vital global shipping route.
Mattis is again representing the U.S.at this year's forum, which comes amid on-again, off-again prospects for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that had been planned for this month.
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Although France is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute, by conducting such exercises "on a regular basis with allies and friends" it is contributing to a rule-based order, according to Parly. The world's second largest economy is boosting its military capabilities there and analysts say there's really not a whole lot the US can do about it.
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.
At an worldwide security forum in Singapore on Saturday, Defense Secretary James Mattis accused China of intimidating others in the region by installing weapons systems on its man-made islands.
"There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they don't find a way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations who have interests", Mattis said.
Speaking at a high-profile security summit in Singapore, the Pentagon chief also said the USA military continues to support diplomats pushing for the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. It was the latest freedom of navigation operation created to challenge Beijing's claims.
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Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence. China protested the maneuver.
Beijing sent a relatively low-level delegation to this year's Shangri-La forum, which was dominated by the United States and its allies.
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's delegation at the conference is being led by Lt. Gen.
"We have seen those who wanted to dominate the region come and go, and we have been with you", Mattis said.
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