USA defense chief Jim Mattis rebukes Chinese 'intimidation' in South China Sea

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.

Mattis specifically called out Beijing's militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, home to some of the world's busiest sea lanes.

He warned that America's recent move to disinvite China from a multinational naval exercise this summer was an "initial response" to the militarization of the islands.

"China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness that our strategy promotes, it calls into question China's broader goals".

"The US will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperating when possible and competing vigorously where we must. of course we recognise any sustainable Indo-Pacific order has a role for China", he said.

Philippines Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on the sidelines of the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore June 2, 2018.

"All irresponsible remarks [on the subject] are an infringement of China's domestic affairs." he told a press conference just two hours after Mattis said in his speech at the event that Beijing had been "intimidating and coercing" its neighbours with its military activities in the disputed waterway.

China relying on muscle to use weapons to pursue goals not favored by global tribunals " 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 more on the consequences.

Despite He's admission, he batted back Mattis' accusations, saying that the "close-up reconnaissance" carried out by two USA warships - which sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands last week - was the real "source of militarisation" in the region.

President Donald Trump talks with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as they walk from their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2018.

Mattis also struck at one of the key, longstanding disputes between the US and China, telling the conference that America will continue to provide defense equipment and services to Taiwan and oppose any effort to alter the status quo.

Mattis said the Pentagon will "hold the line" and support the diplomatic effort to secure the "complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Last week the USA withdrew an invitation for Beijing to participate the exercise known as Rim of the Pacific. "Eventually these things do not pay off, even if on the financial ledger sheet, or the power ledger sheet they appear to".

Reuters first reported that two US Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday.

Chinese J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the South China Sea on 2 January 2017.

Instead, Mattis said any discussions about USA troops would be between Seoul and Washington.

Delegates hoping for clarity on Trump's intentions for hi summit with Kim did not get much from Mattis, though he said the issue of the permanent deployment of about 28,5000 USA troops in South Korea will not be "on the table".

During his trip to Singapore, Mattis has been reluctant to discuss the summit preparations, instead insisting that the Pentagon is focused on backing up USA diplomats leading the process.

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