US pa­trols desta­bi­lize re­gion, ex­perts say In­side

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The in­ten­si­fy­ing United States naval pa­trols in the South China Sea will in­crease mil­i­ta­riza­tion and desta­bi­lize the other­wise peace­ful re­gion, lead­ing to greater risks and pos­si­ble con­fronta­tion be­tween China and the US, Chi­nese ex­perts have warned.

On Sun­day, Reuters re­ported that the Pen­tagon is con­sid­er­ing more as­sertive types of free­dom-of-nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions close to Chi­nese is­lands and their sur­round­ing wa­ters in the South China Sea. The news agency cited two un­named US of­fi­cials and Western and Asian diplo­mats.

Such moves could in­volve longer pa­trols, larger num­bers of ships and closer sur­veil­lance of Chi­nese fa­cil­i­ties in • Edi­to­rial Edi­to­rial, page 11 • Com­ment Com­ment, page 12 the area, the re­port said, adding that the US also is push­ing its al­lies to in­crease their own naval de­ploy­ments to coun­ter­bal­ance China’s mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion.

At the on­go­ing 17th Asia Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, also known as the Shangri-La Di­a­logue, He Lei, vice-pres­i­dent of the Academy of Mil­i­tary Sci­ence of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, said that the US has been in­trud­ing on Chi­nese ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters and airspace by send­ing mil­i­tary ves­sels and air­craft to con­duct sur­veil­lance and flex mil­i­tary mus­cle in the re­gion — all un­der the pre­tense of up­hold­ing free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion.

These moves have un­der­mined China’s se­cu­rity in­ter­ests and ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty and are the root causes of mount­ing ten­sions and mil­i­ta­riza­tion in the South China Sea, he said on Satur­day at the di­a­logue, which opened in Sin­ga­pore on Fri­day.

He made the com­ments in response to re­marks from US De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis, who said at the meet­ing on Satur­day that China’s “mil­i­ta­riza­tion” of the South China Sea was a re­al­ity and Bei­jing would face un­spec­i­fied con­se­quences.

ROSLAN RAH­MAN / AFP

Gen­eral He Lei (left), vice-pres­i­dent of the Academy of Mil­i­tary Sci­ence of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, and Ha­jit Sajjan, Canada’s de­fense min­is­ter, at­tend the 17th Asian Se­cu­rity Sum­mit of the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies...

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