The world has to deal with China’s militarization of the South China Sea for now, but Beijing would face “larger consequences” in the long term that could persuade it to change track, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said yesterday.
Beijing’s deployment of missile batteries and bombers to outposts in disputed areas appear aimed at intimidating its neighbors, Mattis told delegates at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
Such moves had caused the US to reconsider its “cooperative stance” and disinvite China from the Rim of the Pacific Exercise later this month, he added.
That was a relatively small penalty for China to pay and the region would be “dealing with the reality” of its territorial claims over a vital global shipping route, Mattis said.
“I believe there are much larger consequences in the future, when nations lose the rapport of their neighbors,” Mattis told reporters after his speech.
He also attacked what he said were excessive loans made under China’s Belt and Road Initiative that were binding smaller nations in debt.
“Eventually, these things do not pay off, even if on the financial ledger sheet or the power ledger sheet they appear to,” he said. “It’s a very shaky foundation when we believe that militarizing features are somehow going to endorse their standing in the world.”
Mattis’ comments appeared to reaffirm the US’ commitment to Asia’s security, even as US President Donald Trump’s decisions to levy tariffs on allies and withdraw from international agreements have raised questions about its post-World War II alliances.
Challenged from the floor of the conference by several delegates, Mattis gave a forceful defense of the US’ commitment to its allies in the region, stretching back to former US president Thomas Jefferson.
“We have seen those who wanted to dominate the region come and go, and we have been with you,” Mattis said. “It’s not based on which party is in power.”
The Philippines has already sought accommodation with China over its South China Sea claims, but US House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry told reporters he believes that attitudes to China in the region are hardening.
“It’s clear to me from the conversations I’ve had, not just the past week, but beyond, that China’s actions are increasingly alienating many countries, because they threaten the ability of countries to determine their own future, to provide for their people,” Thornberry said. “I think the larger trend is that countries are coming together to say this is unacceptable.”
In an exchange with Mattis, Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo (趙小卓), deputy director of the Center on China-US Defense Relations in China’s Academy of Military Science, said that sending warships into Chinese territorial waters was a violation of the nation’s law.
“Mattis’ speech was negative,” Zhao said. “If China’s islands and reefs are continuously threatened by activities under the name of so-called freedom of navigation, China will eventually station troops on these reefs.”
“We did not do freedom of navigation for America alone,” Mattis said. “We do freedom of navigation, give freedom for all nations, large and small, that need to transit those waters for their own prosperity and they have every reason to do so.”
Beijing sent a relatively low-level delegation to this year’s forum, where the US and its allies dominate. No Chinese official was scheduled to give the traditional Sunday speech, in what had become an outlet for a riposte to the US speech the day before.
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
SOVEREIGN NATION: The Chinese premier’s remarks about the CCP’s resolve to achieve unification sought to undermine the legitimacy of Taiwan, the MAC said Taiwan will never accept Beijing’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its National Day celebrations in Beijing vowed to achieve unification with Taiwan. The CCP’s statement was not conducive to peaceful cross-strait relations, the council said. The event, hosted by the Chinese State Council, featured Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the other five CCP Politburo Standing Committee members and Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), as well as 500 guests from China and abroad. Taiwanese based in China also attended the ceremony, Xinhua news agency
The Kaohsiung District Court has ordered a man to pay a convenience store NT$600 (US$18.83) in compensation for using his own mug to refill a pot of tea eggs, ruling against the store manager’s NT$1 million claim. In May, during the peak of a domestic COVID-19 surge, a man surnamed Lee (李) added water from his mug to a pot of tea eggs after seeing it was nearly dry. A clerk stopped Lee, then discarded all 60 eggs in the pot, worth an estimated NT$600, after consulting with the manager, it said. The manager sued Lee, demanding NT$1 million for damage to the
Washington is evaluating a transfer of weapons systems requested by Taiwan, according to a copy of a report by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) that is to be submitted to lawmakers tomorrow. Asked whether the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile would be among the weapons systems, the ministry refused to comment, but said that it would not rule out announcing the specifics later this year. The ministry’s domestically sourced high-priority military investments include submarines, next-generation light frigates, rescue ships, advanced trainer jets and infantry fighting vehicles, the report said. Planned deals include F-16A and F-16B jet performance upgrades, navigation and targeting