Shanahan calls out China over South China Sea

Sunday, 02 Jun, 2019

China welcomes the USA wish to develop a stable relationship between the militaries of the two counties, but "we resolutely reject" some "false remarks" made by Shanahan when addressing a plenary session at the dialogue, said Shao.

On Friday evening, the acting United States defense chief met with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, and gave him a "beautiful book" about "ship-to-ship transfers of oil", suggesting that the USA and China could jointly crack down on North Korea's ship-to-ship smuggling that skirted UN Security Council resolutions.

Washington and Beijing have been vying for influence in the region, which hosts potential flashpoints such as the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait.

The report itself noted that America's "unique network of Allies and partners is a force multiplier to achieve peace, deterrence, and interoperable warfighting capability", and continued to call China a "revisionist power" and Russian Federation as a "revitalized malign actor".

"China can and should have a cooperative relationship with the rest of the region..." "The freedom of navigation and overflight has never been an issue", he said. That was the overarching message delivered by acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at Asia's premier defense forum Saturday morning in Singapore.

Shanahan's first major speech since taking over as acting defense secretary in January came as the United States and China remain locked in an escalating trade war and at odds over a range of security issues in Asia.

"This is harming regional peace and stability".

USA politicians said Shanahan's speech was impressive. "This is about security", Shanahan said.

"If anything happens in the South China Sea, the world also will suffer".

Workers sit at the Huawei stand at the Mobile Expo in Bangkok, Thailand May 31, 2019.

On the US, PM Lee said while it has a hard adjustment to make, it is well worth for it to forge a new understanding that will integrate China's aspirations within the current system of rules and norms.

Nevertheless, Shanahan - who on his first day in his role in January said the USA military would focus on "China, China, China" - said he would use a speech on Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to call out Chinese actions.

However, he also said he was keen to foster a military relationship with Beijing. "If anybody wants to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will protect the country's sovereignty at all costs".

"Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India's designation as a beneficiary developing country".

Speaking to reporters Friday, Shanahan called the moves "excessive", saying that while the Chinese "argue that it's defensive, it looks like it's a bit overkill".

The 18th Shangri-La Dialogue - the leading security forum in Asia-Pacific - officially opened yesterday in Singapore.

"China says, 'This is our land, this is our sea".

He also said that China and the USA should cooperate with other countries to jointly safeguard world peace and development, which was echoed by Chinese military experts.

On China, PM Lee said it should resolve its disputes with countries peacefully through diplomacy and compromise, while giving weight to the core interests and rights of other countries, which will over time build its reputation as a responsible and benevolent power that need not be feared.

The United States can't fully trust China until Beijing starts playing by the rules.

While the United States does not seek conflict, it knows that having the capability to win wars is the best deterrence.

"Especially the enormous delegation from the United States are present this evening, and I think they have truly heard this voice".

"The kind of advantage that we had against China and the western Pacific during the Cold War is gone for good", Michael O'Hanlon, a senior defense expert with the Brookings Institution, told VOA. "It is the series of measures, even some rude and excessive ones, taken by the USA", he added.