Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Beijing admits to putting troops, weapons on South China Sea reefs

Philippines Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on the sidelines of the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore China general slams 'irresponsible comments' on South China Sea
Andrew Cummings | 07 June, 2018, 08:31

Beijing's deployments of missile batteries and bombers to outposts in disputed areas appear aimed at intimidating neighbours, Mattis told delegates on Saturday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Echoing He at a discussion session of the Shangari-La Dialogue, Zhou Bo, director of the Center for Security Cooperation at the Office for International Military Cooperation at Chinese Defense Ministry, said China, while recognizing that peaceful development of its own is closely linked to the future of the Asia-Pacific, puts forward the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and supports active bilateral and multilateral security dialogue and collaboration, so as to move forward economic and security cooperation in the region.

"We have seen these same reports and China's continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region", Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logal was quoted as saying by The Associated Press on Saturday.

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

Last month China said it had for the first time landed bombers on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, prompting United States warnings that it was destabilising the region.

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, Mattis said.

Asked during the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference over whether it was too late to stop China, Mr Mattis said: "Eventually, these (actions) do not pay off".

US officials also urged worldwide allies to increase its own naval fleet on the territory, as China strengthens its military bases on the Islands of paratsel'.

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He said the USA "will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperation when possible, and competing vigorously where we must". He also asserted the islands belong to China and that Beijing is simply acting to defend the country's sovereignty.

China asserts ownership and control over more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, a US$5 trillion-a-year shipping route where five others including the Philippines and Vietnam have disputed territorial claims. Trump's recent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have targeted allies in Europe, plus Japan, Canada and Mexico, while the U.S.is engaged in an escalating war of words with China, risking a full-blown trade war.

The and regional allies accuse China of militarising the region as part of its efforts to lay claim to the contested territory.

Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a PLA academic, told Mattis that USA freedom of navigation operations, where U.S. naval vessels sail close to Chinese-claimed features, are an "obvious provocation to China's national security and territorial integrity".

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

Taiwan and China, which are hundreds of miles to the north, also claim some of the islands. 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.

The US wanted complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he added. The Pentagon said the decision to disinvite the Chinese Navy was triggered by what it called strong evidence that China has deployed weapons systems on the islands.

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