Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Military maneuvers joint between China and Asean

Military maneuvers joint between China and Asean

Making the announcement at a gathering of ASEAN defense ministers, also attended by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, Ng said the drills would help to build trust and confidence.

Mattis "repeated our desire for a durable relationship that is a stabilising force in the overall relationship", Randall Schriver, the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, told reporters after the almost 90-minute meeting on the sidelines of a security summit in Singapore.

United States Defense Secretary James Mattis reiterated Washington's position on the South China Sea Friday, calling for Japan and South Korea to work with America in the sea to prevent a singular power from dominating its waters. The assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall Schriver, said the Chinese had requested the Singapore meeting.

A meeting between Mattis and Wei was supposed to take place in Beijing last weekend, but it fell through after China declined to make Wei available.

Gregory Poling, an Asia expert and fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank, said most countries in the region see Mattis as "a steady hand on the tiller".

And tensions reached a risky level when a Chinese warship sailed extremely close to a U.S. destroyer as it conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation challenging China's extensive sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

Four of the 10 ASEAN countries - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim sovereignty over some areas of the south China sea, staging area vital to world trade and is known to be rich in hydrocarbons.

Wei and Mattis were in Singapore this week for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference.

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Mattis, speaking to reporters as he flew to Asia this week, rejected Chinese claims that the United States was acting aggressively and pointed the finger at Beijing.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in what was billed as a major policy address, renewed that and other accusations this month and added that Chinese security agencies had masterminded the "wholesale theft of American technology", including military blueprints.

"The (US) secretary making very clear we will continue to operate where global law allows", Schriver told reporters.

Earlier this year, Mattis cited China's military presence on some land features in the South China Sea as his reason for disinviting the Chinese military from an global naval exercise in the Pacific.

Schriver said both men spent "significant time" discussing the situation in the South China Sea, a flashpoint between the two countries.

Military-to-military ties have always been one of the more fragile parts of the overall U.S.

It is important to note that while President Donald Trump continues to be antagonistic towards China, the Pentagon, the country's military arm, continues to act as the voice of reason and moderation when it comes to dealing with the Asian superpower.

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