China has legitimate right to deploy military facilities in S

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delivers his speech during the first plenary session of the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delivers his speech during the first plenary session of the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis on Saturday warned that Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea would face "much larger consequences", without elaborating.

China's state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial that tension in the South China Sea was "due to the U.S. continuing to increase its military presence in the region, forcing China to naturally upgrade its defensive weapons on the islands".

In comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an global security forum in Singapore over the weekend, Mattis said Beijing's moves were created to intimidate other countries in the region.

"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", said Mattis who is scheduled to visit Beijing later this month.

President Donald Trump, backing the remarks by his Pentagon chief at an worldwide security forum in Singapore, said on Twitter on Saturday: "Very surprised that China would be doing this?"

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.

"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.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is leading talks in Beijing over the weekend to work on "rebalancing the bilateral economic relationship" between the two nations, according to a White House statement.

CNBC reports his comment could refer to China's One Belt One Road policy, which calls for $1 trillion of investment in infrastructure and other projects along trade routes linking China to Europe, Russia, Central and Southeast Asia, and Africa.


"We have seen those who wanted to dominate the region come and go, and we have been with you", Mattis said.

The United States has once again accused China of militarizing the South China Sea to intimidate and coerce neighbors. Last week, two U.S. Navy warships reportedly sailed near South China Sea islands over which China has territorial disputes with its neighboring countries. "That issue is not on the table here in Singapore on the 12th, nor should it be", Mattis said.

But the message of inclusivity, cooperation and working with allies might be a tougher sell for Mattis, who is generally popular on the worldwide scene, after his boss this week imposed metals tariffs on some of America's closest allies in the name of "national security".

Mattis tried to reassure allies in the region that the United States was committed to handling both China's rapid expansion and the threat from North Korea.

The bluster comes at a delicate time in US-China relations, as the Trump administration is warily asking for China's help with North Korea ahead of a June 12 summit, while also threatening a trade war.

Beijing sent a relatively low-level delegation to this year's Shangri-La forum, which was dominated by the USA and its allies.

China has not sent high-level officials to the three-day meeting, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from its campaign to expand its sovereignty across virtually the entire South China Sea.

"We did not do freedom of navigation for America alone", Mattis said.

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