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Mattis calls on allies to stand against China in the South China Sea

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An EA-18G Growler assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VFA) 141 lands on the flight deck of the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) June 20, 2018
U.S.
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth
Abbate/Released

U.S.
Navy



  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met his Chinese
    counterpart Thursday to discuss a host of tense
    issues.  
  • The meeting focused heavily on the South China Sea, but
    tensions persist.
  • Speaking with allies Friday, the secretary called on US
    partners to counter Chinese efforts to dominate the South China
    Sea.
  • He doubled down on America’s determination to stand up
    to China, stressing, “We will not be intimidated.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called on America’s allies to
combat Chinese efforts to dominate the contested South China Sea
during a trilateral meeting in Singapore Friday.

I think that all of us joining hands together, ASEAN
allies and partners, and we affirm as we do so that no single
nation can rewrite the international rule to the road and expect
all nations large and small to respect those rules,” Mattis said
during a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts,

according
to The Hill.

“The United States, alongside our allies and partners, will
continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law
allows and our national interests demand. We will not be
intimidated, and we will not stand down, for we cannot accept the
PRC’s militarization of the South China Sea or any coercion in
this region,” he added.

Mattis doubled down on
statements made by Vice President Mike Pence
in a forceful
speech at the Hudson Foundation earlier this month that came
immediately in the wake of a showdown between US and Chinese
warships.

“China wants nothing less than to push the United States of
America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from
coming to the aid of our allies,” Pence explained. He called
attention to the recent showdown in the South China Sea as
evidence of “China’s aggression.”

“A Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS
Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the
South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid
collision,” he said, describing a dangerous encounter that the US
military characterized as “unsafe” and “unprofessional.”

The Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance
against China, targeting Beijing for perceived violations of the
rules-based international order. In the South China Sea, tensions
have been running high as the US challenges China through
freedom-of-navigation operations, bomber overflights, and joint
drills with regional partners — all aimed to counter China’s
expansive but discredited territorial claims.

A pair of B-52H Stratofortress
bombers flew through the disputed South China Sea
Tuesday in
support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence
mission, which is notably intended to send a deterrence message
to potential adversaries.

Mattis met
with his Chinese counterpart
Gen. Wei Fenghe Thursday for an
hour and a half on the sidelines of a security forum in
Singapore. The talks, described as “straightforward and candid,”
focused heavily on the South China Sea, but it is unclear if the
two sides made any real progress on the issue.

“That’s an area where we will continue to have
differences,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and
Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said after the meeting
concluded.

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