News Desk |
‘China is deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea to intimidate and coerce its neighbours’, US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said. Speaking in Singapore, General Mattis said Beijing’s actions called into question its broader goals. He also said the issue of US troops in South Korea was “not on the table” at this month’s summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
The US wanted complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, he added. South Korean Defense Minister, Song Young-moo, also told the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit that US forces in South Korea was a “separate issue from North Korea’s nuclear issue”. There are currently about 28,500 US troops based in South Korea.
Mr Mattis told the security summit that Beijing had deployed military hardware including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to locations across the South China Sea. “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,” Gen Mattis said.
Read more: The rising tensions between China, US
He also said that the Trump administration wanted a constructive relationship with China but would compete vigorously, if necessary and that the US recognized that China had a role to play in the region. The South China Sea, a key trade route, is subject to overlapping claims by six countries.
China has been building small islands and other maritime features into military facilities there. Last month, China said that it had, for the first time, landed bombers on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, prompting US warnings that it was destabilizing the region.