Mattis: US relations with China not worsening

Arturo Kim
October 5, 2018

The Chinese defense ministry said Tuesday it opposes the USA warship's entry into the waters "around China's islands and reefs".

Both the countries are now locked in a trade war slapping billions of dollars of tariffs on each other's export products.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said China's actions in the recent stand-off was a contravention of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, a non-binding agreement between China and the United States reached in 2014 to prevent miscalculations and unanticipated escalations of incidents.

As tensions have increased over trade and other issues, the United States and other nations have intensified naval and aerial patrols in the sea to signal that the territories there remain in worldwide waters.

The Pentagon accused the Chinese navy of using "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver" when one of its destroyers challenged a USA destroyer, the USS Decatur, as it sailed Sunday near one of the disputed islets that China claims in the Spratly archipelago. "As the secretary of defence has said on countless occasions, we don't comment on future operations of any kind", Lieutenant Colonel David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson said.

But Pence will say in his speech that one U.S. company was pressured by Beijing to complain about the tariffs or face a restriction on its business licence in China.

The U.S. would 'continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows, ' said Gorman, the Pacific Fleet spokesman. We will not be intimidated. "But it also seems to reflect a growing willingness on the part of Beijing to test the Americans in the south China sea".

A Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of an American destroyer in the South China Sea.

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The Chinese government claims the rights to the region and harshly opposes the entry of any foreign ships into the waterway without permission from Beijing.

The defence officials further asserted that the U.S. does not want to engage in any military skirmishes with China.

In a speech laden with red flags for the Chinese leadership, Pence will also say that Taiwan's embrace of democracy "shows a better path for all the Chinese people".

He will also say that Beijing has extended a lifeline to "the corrupt and incompetent Maduro regime in Venezuela", pledging $5 billion in loans that can be repaid with oil.

"It's using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing's political influence", he will say, with the goal of shifting Americans' perception of Chinese policies by mobilizing "covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets".

China's defense and foreign ministries each released statements Tuesday sharply criticizing the United States, though not disputing details of the US accusations involving the Decatur.

The Pentagon says they are meant to enforce the right of free passage in global waters. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

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