US Considers Intensifying Naval Patrols in South China Sea

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The Chinese Defense Ministry condemned the USA actions, saying that the warships had violated the Chinese sovereignty, undermined strategic mutual trust, peace and security in the South China Sea.

"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, referring to the recent deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers and other equipment on the Spratly Islands, and the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island.

China's reliance on military muscle to achieve its goals "is not a way to make long-term collaboration the rule of the road in a region that's important to China's future", Mattis said, when asked to elaborate.

Ms Parly said in a speech at a session on regional security cooperation: "France is not part of territorial disputes in the area nor will it be, but we insist on two principles of the rules-based worldwide order".

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said China risked "larger consequences" in the long term with its increased military deployments in the South China Sea, as the Trump administration spars with Beijing on issues ranging from trade to security.

"Yet China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promotes".

The two countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, made the remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, echoing the latest U.S. plan to ramp up its freedom of navigation operations to counter Beijing's militarisation in the region and its stance that territorial disputes should be a matter between China and its Asian neighbours.

Gen Mattis had made his critical comments at a security summit in Singapore.

"Our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula". Scholars say China has landed a bomber and deployed missiles to islets under its control largely because of the US ship movement.

"That issue is not on the table here in Singapore on the 12th, nor should it be", Mattis said.

"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.

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

Six countries have competing claims in the sea, but China has backed its own with island-building and patrols.

At the same news conference, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also confirmed China's development of its latest-model type 055 guided missile destroyer, which weighs 10,000 tons and features both stealth design and a land-attack capability. China protested the maneuver.

Several hours later, China's Lieutenant General He Le slammed "irresponsible comments from other countries".

But while Mattis appeared to draw a firm line between the actions of the United States and China, he insisted the USA is not asking other countries in the region to choose sides.

While the operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it came at a particularly sensitive time and just days after the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to China for a major USA -hosted naval drill.