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US Defense Secretary Mattis Slams China for Militarising South China Sea Islands

US Defense Secretary Mattis Slams China for Militarising South China Sea Islands

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

Mattis earlier disinvited China from a multinational naval exercise this summer over its aggressive actions, but he emphasized that the still committed to improved relations with China.

On Sunday, two U.S. warships sailed close to the Paracel Islands in a long-planned operation created to challenge China's claims.

Chinese J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the South China Sea on 2 January 2017.

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, Mr. Mattis said.

In a speech to the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, Ng said the world's two-biggest economies were similarly using security considerations to justify their behavior - the USA on trade and China for its military buildup in the disputed South China Sea.

Mattis said on Friday that the US would continue to "pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China".

Without naming China, she suggested the warships will cross into "territorial waters" claimed by Beijing and envisioned a potential encounter with its military.

The Pentagon does not comment on future operations but a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, said "we will continue to work with our friends, partners, and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific".

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"I believe we should broaden this effort even further", said Parly, adding that Europe was mobilising more widely to support this endeavour and there were also German observers on board.

The Pentagon also cancelled the PLA's invitation to join an upcoming global maritime exercise off Hawaii, citing "China's continued militarisation of the South China Sea".

"China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness that our strategy promotes, it calls into question China's broader goals".

The incident was the first time Donald Trump's administration challenged Chinese claims to the disputed waters but Mr Mattis' speech represents a step up in the war of words.

Mattis's comments came at a time of increased tensions between the USA and China, with the two countries locked in an ongoing trade dispute while Beijing has also continued to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo said a USA move to send two warships into China's "territorial waters" was a violation of law, and an "obvious provocation to China's national security and territorial integrity".

"Make no mistake: America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay".

Gen Mattis said the issue of removing United States troops from South Korea was "not on the table" and that "our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula". Mr. Trump announced Friday that the nuclear-weapons summit he had canceled with North Korea's Kim Jong Un is back on.

"The Chinese people and the Chinese government will never allow any person, any political party and any organisation under any name to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China at any time and in any form", Mr He said. He said America's goal remained the "irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".