United States warns of 'consequences' if China continues 'intimidation and coercion'

Geneva Stokes
June 3, 2018

The United States is willing to work with China on a "results oriented" relationship, but Beijing's actions in the South China Sea call into question its intent and the Pentagon will "compete vigorously" if needed, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday.

The remarks come amid growing discord between China and the U-S over the disputed waters and islands.

"China's militarisation of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers and, more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island", Mr Mattis said in his address.

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

"What we see it as, is a reaffirmation of the rules-based order".

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".

Despite his criticism, Gen Mattis added that the United States would "continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China" with "co-operation whenever possible".

Andrew Yang, a former Taiwanese defence minister who is also at the security conference in Singapore, said he expected the USA to tread carefully on the Taiwan issue so as not to provoke the mainland into taking military action against the self-ruled island.

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

Disengagement of forces in southwest Syria to take place shortly, says ambassador
The strikes were in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of the weapons against anti-government forces near the rebel stronghold of Aleppo.

Bashar al Assad goes old school in response to Trump's 'animal' insult
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after Lavrov spoke that Israel objects to Iran's presence in any part of Syria. Assad also sought in his interview to minimize the extent to which his government receives support from Iran.

Top North Korean general on way to US ahead of summit
Since then, North Korea has rejected United States demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme. Moon said on Monday there could be more impromptu talks between the two Koreas in the lead-up to the summit.

The bluster comes at a delicate time in US-China relations, as the Trump administration is warily asking for China's help with North Korea ahead of a June 12 summit, while also threatening a trade war.

During his trip to Singapore, Mattis has been reluctant to discuss the summit preparations, instead insisting that the Pentagon is focused on backing up USA diplomats leading the process.

Mattis said this was just an "initial response".

"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", said Mr Mattis, who said he would be travelling to Beijing this month.

Last week, two U.S. Navy warships reportedly sailed near South China Sea islands over which China has territorial disputes with its neighboring countries. China protested the maneuver.

Despite frequent warnings from Washington about China's rising might and the pitfalls of its "Belt and Road" global infrastructure initiative, Beijing has faced few consequences for its South China Sea build-up and sweeping territorial claims.

He responded by saying: "The Chinese government and its people strongly oppose arms sale to Taiwan, all kinds of official government contacts to strengthen their ties with Taipei, as well as other acts to harm the "one-China principle".

He did however, seek to calm nervous allies in the region. President Donald Trump on Friday said the summit will take place June 12.

Mattis said the Pentagon will "hold the line" and support the diplomatic effort to secure the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER