Mattis warns of Chinese “intimidation” in the South China Sea

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SINGAPORE – The placement of weapon systems on artificial islands in the South China Sea is designed to intimidate and coerce others in the region, Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Saturday. , presenting an acute criticism of Beijing in an international security forum and threatening with greater consequences if the militarization continues.

Mattis warned that the recent movement of the United States to disinvest China from a multinational naval exercise this summer was an "initial response" to the militarization of the islands. It was, he said, a "relatively small consequence, I think there are much bigger consequences in the future".

China depends on the muscles to use weapons to achieve targets not favored by international courts "is not a way to make" the rule of the road in a region that is important to the future of China, "said Mattis, when asked to elaborate more on the consequences.

"There are consequences that will continue to come home, so to speak, with China, if they do not find a way to work more in collaboration with all the nations that have interests"

  ] Image: South China Sea
Satellite images show what the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative describes as the implementation of several new weapons systems, including a J-11 fighter aircraft, at the base of Woody Island in the Paracels, South China Sea, May 12, 2018. HENDIDAS / Reuters

The United States, he said, remains committed to ensuring free and open transit in the region in And he said he does not think China's actions are worth it. Militarizing the islands, said Mattis, will not improve China's position in the world.

"Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is directly linked to military use for intimidation and coercion," Mattis said. , referring to the recent deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic blockers and other equipment in the Spratly Islands, and the landing of bomber aircraft on Woody Island.

Mattis also hit one of the keys, ancient disputes between the US. UU and China, telling the conference that the United States will continue to provide defense equipment and services to Taiwan and oppose any effort to alter the status quo.

  Image: Jim Mattis, Itsunori Onodera, He Lei
Defense Secretary James Mattis, Defense Minister of Japan, Itsunori Onodera, and Vice President of the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army of China, He Lei, in Singapore on Saturday. Yong Teck Lim / AP [19659009] China demands that the autonomous island as its own territory be controlled under force if necessary.

But in a quick turnaround, he said the United States welcomes cooperation with China "whenever possible," and announced that it has accepted Beijing's invitation to visit it soon. It remains to be seen if that invitation will remain after this conference.

Mattis' comments triggered an equally sharp reaction from a Chinese official at the meeting.

Colonel Major Zhao Xiaozhuo said that a couple of years ago a movement of the United States to send two warships to the "territorial waters" of China was a violation of the law and an "obvious provocation to national security" and the territorial integrity of China. "


As expected, the Pentagon chief briefly mentioned the ongoing negotiations for a historic summit later this month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump announced on Friday that the summit he had canceled with Kim is now back. The summit is expected to take place in Singapore on June 12.

Mattis said the Pentagon will "keep the line" and support the diplomatic effort to ensure the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." [19659004] The comments of the Pentagon leader in the annual Shangri-La Dialogue came after a few tumultuous weeks between the US. UU And China.

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