US spy plane is criticized by China
Washington’s deployment of a P8 Poseidon spy plane to Singapore this month was criticized by Beijing on Tuesday as part of a US attempt to militarize the South China Sea that does not serve the “common and long-term interests” of the region.
P8 aircraft have made headlines in recent years for their role at the forefront of US challenges to China.
In a joint statement after a meeting in Washington on Monday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the aircraft would be in Singapore from Dec 7 to 14.
The announcement was made after an enhanced defense-cooperation agreement was signed by Carter and Ng.
The United States already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines and has conducted surveillance flights from Singapore’s neighbor, Malaysia.
Reuters referred to Monday’s announcement as “a fresh response” to China. It also quoted an unnamed US defense official as saying that further deployments to Singapore could be expected.
China’s Ministry of Defense said that China is keeping close watch on the issue.
“(We) hope the bilateral defense cooperation between relevant countries is conducive to regional peace and stability, not otherwise,” the ministry said in response to the news.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference on Tuesday that the overall situation in the South China Sea “has remained peaceful and stable”, but the US is trying to “strengthen military deployment and boost the militarization of the region”.
Such actions show that the US is “not living up to the common, longterm interests of the regional countries”, Hua said, adding that Beijing wanted relevant parties to do more to “boost mutual trust among the regional countries” and to facilitate peace and development.
In Washington on Tuesday, Abraham Denmark, the US deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, blamed some of China’s conduct for contributing to tension in the Asia Pacific and prevented the bilateral relationship from reaching its full potential.
Harsh rhetoric aside, Denmark said the US is working to build deeper and more effective partnerships in the region, including with China, citing the example that Carter has accepted an invitation from President Xi Jinping to visit China in 2016.