US patrols destabilize region, experts say Inside
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.
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...