China, US militaries should further enhance ties

China, US militaries should further enhance ties

His comments come in response to the increasingly fraught security situation in the Asian-Pacific, including the North Korea nuclear crisis and China's claims to the South China Sea.

China's deployment of defensive facilities on its islands in the South China Sea is legitimate and necessary, a senior Chinese military official said on Saturday.

Mattis is expected to have strong words for China at a Shangri-la dialogue conference in Singapore beginning on Friday.

The comments came on the heels of a string of events that highlight the tension between the world's two biggest economies over the South China Sea's disputed waters.

"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", Mattis told the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

"What we have seen in the last few weeks is just the start, significantly more is being planned", said one Western diplomat, referring to a patrol late last month in which two United States warships sailed near islands claimed by China.

"If the USA will continue to pursue a constructive results-oriented relationship with China, cooperation, whenever possible, will be the name of the game, 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.

Beijing is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes in the South China Sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global trade and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

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Many nations fear that Beijing will use the construction on the islands to extend its military reach and potentially try to restrict navigation in the South China Sea.

Despite He's admission, he batted back Mattis' accusations, saying that the "close-up reconnaissance" carried out by two USA warships - which sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands last week - was the real "source of militarisation" in the region. "What we see it as, is a reaffirmation of the rules-based order".

To the ire of Beijing, the US Navy has sailed warships within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, a contested archipelago off the coast of Vietnam.

Beijing sent a relatively low-level delegation to this year's Shangri-La forum, which was dominated by the USA and its allies. -China trade negotiations and on-again, off-again nuclear talks between the US and North Korea, China continues to strengthen its position in the South China Sea.

"I don't see what options Australia's got beyond a vigorous diplomatic assertion and what options America has got beyond continuing freedom of navigation patrols perhaps on a more regular rotation than what's happening now".

"India stands for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity", he said, using the term Indo-Pacific, which has become increasingly used by diplomats in the USA, Australia, India and Japan to refer to the region instead of Asia-Pacific, which was seen as placing China too firmly at the center.

Mattis made clear that the US does not expect nations to choose between the USA and China, adding that Beijing should have a voice in shaping the region, while allies have a voice in shaping China's role.

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