South China Sea, the region where China has managed to create significance military presence, would be continued to be challenged by the United States, said the country’s defence secretary Jim Mattis.
U.S. wants to challenge the territorial claims that China has made in that region.
Following the sailing past of two US warships close to an island in the disputed Paracel Island chain, China had voiced “strong dissatisfaction” Sunday which prompted Mattis’s remarks.
“You’ll notice there’s only one country that seems to take active steps to rebuff (such operations) or state their resentment of them, but it’s international waters and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation, so we will continue that,” Mattis told reporters as he flew to Hawaii.
“Freedom of navigation” operations are carried out by the US Navy in the disputed waterway periodically and in that process tends to sail close to the artificial island features that have bene built by China to show that the claim on the area is rejected by the US.
“We are going out of our way to cooperate with Pacific nations, that’s the way we do business in the world, but we are also going to confront what we believe is out of step with international law,” Mattis said.
About a week ago, nuclear-capable bombers were flown by China to a disputed island which drew sharp criticism from the US.
Because of Beijing’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea, an invitation to the country was pulled out of an invitation by the Pentagon to join maritime exercises in the Pacific.
Despite protests from Southeast Asian countries, China has been constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea to reinforce its territorial claims over the region that is resource-rich.
Fears that freedom of navigation and overflight over the claimed territory could be the ultimate outcome of the exploits by China, have bene expressed by its neighbours, especially those that are involved in maritime disputes in the region.
“Our diplomats are robustly engaged on this,” Mattis said.
“The concerns have come to me not just from American government circles, but also from foreign nations that are concerned, very concerned about this continued militarization of features in the South China Sea.”
Mattis was heading to Hawaii to attend a change-of-command ceremony for the US military’s Pacific Command.
The present head – Admiral Harry Harris, has been chosen by the Trump administration to be US’s new ambassador to South Korea. He will be replaced by Admiral Philip Davidson.
(Adapted from LiveMint.com)