US weighs more South China Sea patrols

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore. (Reuters pic

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore. (Reuters pic

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned there could be "much larger consequences" in the future from China's moves to install weapons systems on islands in the sea.

Beijing's deployments of missile batteries and bombers to outposts in disputed areas appear aimed at intimidating neighbours, Mattis told delegates on Saturday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

China claims nearly the entire resource-rich sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Mr Mattis also touched on Taiwan, a longstanding dispute between the U.S. and China.

He Lei said China has indisputable sovereignty over its islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters. Singapore has warned previously that countries should not be squeezed by competition between the US and a rising China, or forced to take sides.

Mattis has tried to avoid weighing in on the summit, deferring questions to the State Department and Trump's national security team.

Also he said that the comments made by US Defence Secretary James Mattis, are and attemp to interfere in the internal affairs of China.

But he also said the US welcomes cooperation with China "wherever possible", and announced that he has accepted Beijing's invitation to visit soon.

Mattis said he plans to travel to Beijing later this month.

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Mattis is again representing the U.S.at this year's forum, which comes amid on-again, off-again prospects for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month.

"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.

China's hostility towards self-ruled Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections on the island in 2016. The Pentagon said the decision to disinvite the Chinese Navy was triggered by what it called strong evidence that China has deployed weapons systems on the islands.

"I believe we should broaden this effort even further", said Parly, adding that Europe was mobilising more widely to support this endeavour and there were also German observers on board.

The U.S. response to China's weaponization of the islands continued on Sunday, as two U.S. warships sailed close to the Paracel Islands, which lie north of the Spratlys.

"This sounds like a case of a thief crying "stop thief" to cover their misdeeds", she said.

The Chinese government and the Chinese people resolutely oppose U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as well as any official contact with Taiwan and upgrading ties with Taiwan in any way, said He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

"Yet China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promotes". It says military activities on the islands have been for self-defense purposes.

China's deployment of defensive facilities on its islands in the South China Sea is a legitimate right granted to sovereign states by global law, which has nothing to do with militarization and does not pose a threat to regional security, he said.

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