South China Sea Dispute: Mattis Says China 'Intimidating Neighbours'

05 June, 2018, 04:02 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Mattis takes hard line on China in Singapore speech

"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.

"Currently so far it's a so-called new normal", Lin Chong-pin, retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan, said of the USA ship movement.

He said the only way to bring peace in the region was to ensure North Korea take concrete actions to end all nuclear programmes and ballistic missiles of all ranges.

"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", he said.

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

He also asserted the islands belong to China and that Beijing is simply acting to defend the country's sovereignty.

Responding to Mattis' hardline talks, the Chinese delegates lashed out at the "irresponsible comments".

In a speech at the defence summit, Parly emphasised France's support for a code of conduct in the disputed waters that would be legally binding, comprehensive, effective and consistent with global law.

Mattis has tried to avoid weighing in on the summit, deferring questions to the State Department and Trump's national security team.

"We have to make it clear that nations need to play by the rules, and there are consequences for not doing so", Williamson said, adding that the United Kingdom will send three ships to the South China Sea this year to enforce rules-based order.

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In response to a question from People's Liberation Army Senior Col. Zhao Xiaozhuo criticizing USA freedom of navigation exercises, Mattis said these US actions were "a reaffirmation of the rules-based order".

ASEAN leaders take a group photo ahead of the opening ceremony of the 32nd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, April 28, 2018.

"Our objective remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Mattis said, making no mention of maintaining the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign, which included tough sanctions.

The South China Sea issue has always been a "hot topic" at the annual Shangri-la Dialogue in recent years, so much so that some have described it as a "golden routine subject", said He, who is head of the Chinese delegation to the Dialogue.

Last week the USA withdrew an invitation for Beijing to participate the exercise known as Rim of the Pacific.

Last week, the USA withdrew an invitation for Beijing's participation in naval exercises known as the Rim of the Pacific.

China is building up three reefs in the sea's Spratly Islands to support missiles and military aircraft, according to an initiative under the American think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China has a sovereign right to deploy its forces and equipment on artificial South China Sea islands and considers any criticism of its actions an interference in its domestic affairs, Lt. Gen.

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

China has not sent high-level officials to the Shangri-La conference. Scholars say China has landed a bomber and deployed missiles to islets under its control largely because of the USA ship movement. It was the latest freedom of navigation operation created to challenge Beijing's claims.

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