Mattis Says China Trying to Intimidate, Coerce Neighbors in South China Sea

China general slams 'irresponsible comments' on South China Sea

But don't expect USA warnings to slow China's militarization of the strategic waterway, through which $3.4 trillion in global trade passes annually.

China is guilty of "intimidation and coercion" over its military build-up on disputed islands in the South China Sea, the USA defence secretary has said.

Also he said that the comments made by US Defence Secretary James Mattis, are and attemp to interfere in the internal affairs of China. "There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they don't find a way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations who have interests".

Hours after Mattis spoke, Chinese Lieutenant General He Lei lashed out at "irresponsible comments" on China's build-up in the South China Sea.

Mattis is speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue conference that includes defense chiefs, analysts and other leaders from the region.

This month, China's air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise.

Recent satellite photographs showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

"Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion", Mattis said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue.

U.S. assertions that China is militarising the are "ridiculous", China said on Thursday, after Secretary said Washington would confront China's actions in the disputed waterways.

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"The U.S. 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. of course we recognise any sustainable Indo-Pacific order has a role for China", he said. He said he would visit Beijing soon at China's invitation.

He said the United States remained committed to ensuring free and open transit in the region, a hub for shipping and natural resources beset by overlapping claims from China and several of its neighbors including Vietnam and the Philippines. But while other countries have built military features and artificial islands, none come close to matching Beijing's in scale or ambition, which stretch hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin asked Mattis whether he thought it was unproductive for Trump to pick fights with allies on trade. -North Korea talks will take place.

The Pentagon is weighing a more assertive program of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations close to Chinese installations on disputed reefs, two U.S. officials and Western and Asian diplomats close to discussions said.

The U.S. Department of Defense is also committed to working with Taiwan so the self-ruled island can maintain sufficient self defense, the defense secretary continued.

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

The US cancelled China's participation in the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval drills after China confirmed reports the People's Liberation Army had installed missile systems in the disputed Spratly chain.

"We do not do freedom of navigation for America alone, we do freedom of navigation for all nations. we do not see it as a militarization by going through what has traditionally been global water space".

The Defense Secretary stuck to fairly common talking points from Washington: highlighting the importance of United States alliances and the ultimate goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

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