US & China share heated exchange at Shangri-La Dialogue

From left U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and China's People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science Deputy President He Lei pose for

The UK, alongside France, pledged to step up its efforts to tackle China's militarization of the South China Sea.

At the Shangri-la Dialogue military leadership forum in Singapore June 2, Mattis and his Vietnamese counterpart agreed that a "strong U.S. -Vietnam defense relationship promotes regional and global security, including in the South China Sea", the U.S. Department of Defense said on its website. Mattis vowed the USA would continue confronting China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

In response to a question from People's Liberation Army Senior Col. Zhao Xiaozhuo criticizing USA freedom of navigation exercises, Mattis said these US actions were "a reaffirmation of the rules-based order".

"Vietnam pursues a defensive and peaceful defense policy, does not take sides with one country against another country; does not use force for threaten the use of force", he said.

China is deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea to "intimidate and coerce" its neighbours, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said on Saturday, adding that Washington does not plan to abandon its role in the region.

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The North Korean side is led by Kim Chang Son, who effectively serves as chief of staff to Kim Jong Un. A top North Korean official boarded a flight in Beijing on Wednesday bound for NY and talks with U.S.

Last month, China's air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise, triggering concern in Vietnam and the Philippines, according to Reuters.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, a fact verified by historical evidence and supported by worldwide law, he said.

In a veiled criticism on Sunday (June 3) of China's militarisation in the disputed waters, Ms Parly said at the Shangri-La Dialogue that the importance of these waterways to the economic security of states did not give them a right to bypass worldwide maritime law.

"Our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

Mattis also criticized China's "Belt and Road" initiative without explicitly naming the program, saying that Beijing has to rethink twice if they believe "piling mountainous debts on their neighbors and somehow removing the freedom of political action is the way to engage with them".

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There are now about 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea.

The previous week the USA had withdrawn an invitation for Beijing to participate in the exercise known as Rim of the Pacific. China protested the move.

At the same news conference, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also confirmed China's development of its latest-model type 055 guided missile destroyer, which weighs 10,000 tons and features both stealth design and a land-attack capability. Tensions increased in recent years and China has backed its claim with island-building and patrols.

But Chinese Lieutenant General He Lei issued a fiery response, telling the summit that "irresponsible comments from other nations can not be accepted".

"By exercising our freedom of navigation, we also place ourselves in the position of a persistent objector to the creation of any claim to de facto sovereignty on the islands", she said. He Lei, vice president of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science.

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Mattis told Asia's biggest security conference Saturday that China's deployment of missile batteries and bombers to outposts in the disputed area was "a reality" the US and its allies would have to deal with.

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