China is deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea to intimidate and coerce its neighbors, said US Defense Secretary James Mattis.
In statements made in Singapore, Mattis said that the actions of Beijing made question the broader goals of the Asian country .
He also said that the issue of US troops stationed in South Korea will not be “on the table” at the recently announced summit this month between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un.
Washington is seeking a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he added.
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo also mentioned at the security summit of the Shangri-La Dialogue that US forces have been involved in the security talks. in South Korea they were “an issue separate from the nuclear issue of North Korea.”
There are approximately 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea.
Mattis expressed at the security summit that Beijing has deployed heavy military equipment with anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic intervention devices throughout the South China Sea.
“Despite China’s denials, the deployment of these weapons systems is directly linked to their military use for the purpose of intimidation and coercion,” said General Mattis.
General Mattis said that the Trump administration was looking for a constructive relationship with China but that it would compete vigorously if necessary.
He also indicated that the US he recognized that China had a role to play in the region.
The South China Sea, a key maritime route, is the subject of a territorial dispute involving six countries .
China has been transforming small islands and other keys in that sea into military installations.
Last month, China said it had for the first time placed bombers on Woody Island, one of the Paracelsus islands, which generated accusations from the US. that was destabilizing the region .
Woody Island, which China calls Yongxing, is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
The South China Sea dispute
- The sovereignty of the Paracelsus and Spratly, two chains of practically uninhabited islands, is disputed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia.
- The area is an important maritime route, rich in fishing and is thought to have abundant oil and gas deposits.
- The images showing the impressive military installations that Beijing builds in record time on the islands of the South China Sea