Defense Secretary Mattis Warns Of Chinese Intimidation In Disputed Waterway

US China at odds over South China Sea

In addition, US officials are encouraging allies to increase their naval operations in the South China Sea to monitor Chinese facilities in the region.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated this stance on Saturday at the Singapore meeting, saying that the placement of weapons on South China Sea islands "is tied directly to military use for the objective of intimidation and coercion".

In a blast from Britain's imperialist past, UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned nations that they "must play by the rules" or face consequences, after announcing the deployment of warships to the South China Sea.

He said Asia can only prosper under the rule of law, and stressed the importance of a rule-based worldwide order.

At last year's meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sharply criticized what he called Beijing's disregard for global law by its "indisputable militarization" of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

Mattis said that Beijing's policy in the South China Sea "stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promotes".

China and Asean, which claimant states such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are part of, are negotiating a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move Ms Parly said France fully supports.

Delegates attend the plenary sessions of the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore, on June 2, 2018.

Using Chinese social media posts, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency initiative identified the location as Woody Island, China's largest base in the Paracel Islands.

"It's clear to me from the conversations I've had, not just the past week but beyond, that China's actions are increasingly alienating many countries because they threaten the ability of countries to determine their own future, to provide for their people", Thornberry said.

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

Despite strong mutual suspicions, the United States had included China in the past two versions of the naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, in 2014 and 2016.

Reuters first reported that two US Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, prompting anger in Beijing, which claims most of the strategic waters where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

Beijing sent a relatively low-level delegation to this year's Shangri-La forum, which was dominated by the United States and its allies.

He also said the USA recognised that China had a role to play in the region.

China's delegation at the conference is being led by Lt. Gen.

Just last week, the United States renamed its Pacific Command the "Indo-Pacific Command", a term that reflects the subtle shifting and upgrading of US defense strategy in the region.

Those who cry out against militarization are actually those who are actually undertaking militarization in the South China Sea, the senior Chinese military official said.

China has not sent high-level officials to the three-day meeting, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from its campaign to expand its sovereignty across virtually the entire South China Sea.

"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".

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