In this April 26, 2018, file photo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mattis says the US will continue to confront China’s militarization of manmade islands in the South China Sea, arguing that Beijing hasn’t abided by its promise not to put weapons on the Spratly Islands.
AP/Jacquelyn Martin, File
US to continue operations in South China Sea despite China's dissent — Pentagon chief
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 30, 2018 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Washington will continue to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) and confront China's increasing militarization in the South China Sea, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

Mattis noted that the US has always been transparent on its operations in the contested waters and that there's only "one country" that has expressed opposition against the FONOPs.

"On the FONOPs, they're freedom of navigation operations.  And you'll notice there's only one country that seems to take active steps to rebuff them or state their resentment of them," Mattis told reporters aboard a US military plane.

The Pentagon chief further noted that Washington is not hiding its operations in the South China Sea as it has always been announced through public affairs statements.

Mattis reiterated that Chinese President Xi Jinping has reneged on his promise not to militarize the Spratly Islands.

"We have seen—the last month, they have done exactly that, moving weaponry in that was never there before," Mattis said.

Beijing has deployed new missile systems and jamming equipment on its "big three" islands in the Spratlys. The Chinese Air Force also recently landed a nuclear-capable bomber aircraft on its outpost in the Paracel Islands.

Washington will continue to confront nations behaving out of step with international law, Mattis said, referring to Beijing.

"That's the way we do business in the world.  But we are also going to confront what we believe is out of step with international law, out of step with international tribunals that have spoken on the issue, and part of this is we maintain a very transparent military activity out in the Pacific," the Pentagon chief said.

Mattis stressed that US partners and allies are "very open" with Washington's FONOPs in the region.

"So, when they do things that are opaque to the rest of us, then we cannot cooperate in areas that we would otherwise cooperate in," he said.

Last week, the Pentagon withdrew its invitation for China to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercises, the world's largest multinational naval exercise.

The Pentagon said that the decision to disinvite China was an "initial response" to the latter's militarization of the South China Sea.

"We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Related video:

CHINA FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OPERATIONS JIM MATTIS SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

Vice President Leni Robredo chides presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, telling him that he should be better informed of what exactly President Duterte has stated before presenting his own "interpretation," so they can stop contradicting each other in public.

Her statement comes after Panelo called her out for "misplaced and flamboyant remarks" in response to the president's remark about ignoring the arbitral ruling for a joint oil and gas exploration deal with China.

"Litong lito talaga ako, kasi ang sinasabi ni pangulo, iba sa sinasabi niya. Nagsabi si pangulo na i-set aside iyong arbitral ruling; ang sabi niya, hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin," Robredo says on her weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI on RMN-DZXL 558.

Robredo says the administration should put a stop to this "practice" as contradictions between the president's statements and Panelo's "clarifications" only make things even more confusing for the people. 

August 20, 2019 - 8:59pm

The White House accuses China of "bullying tactics" in the increasingly tense waters of the South China Sea and says it will resist Beijing on the dispute.

"China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing," President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton tweets.

"The United States stands firmly with those who oppose coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security."

 

 

— AFP

July 31, 2019 - 8:22am

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should do more than acknowledge China's harassment and bullying of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea, activist fsherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) says.

"Finally, a high-ranking official from the Duterte administration has recognized that there is an actual harassment of Filipino fishers in our own territorial waters. But we dare Mr. Lorenzana to walk the talk, if he is aware and is already fed up by the Chinese bullying and the subservience of his commander-in-chief Rodrigo Duterte to the foreign aggressor, then he must decisively act to stand with the Filipino fisherfolk and the people in upholding our sovereign and territorial rights," the group says in a statement.

Lorenzana on Tuesday said in response to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua speech at the anniversary of China's People's Liberation Army that China is a peace-loving nation that he considers China's takeover of Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag and Bajo de Masinloc, as bullying.

July 11, 2019 - 9:18am

An overwhelming majority of Filipinos believe it is important to that the Philippines regain control of islands in the West Philippine Sea that are occupied by China, the latest Social Weather Stations survey suggests.

SWS says 93% of respondents in its Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey said it is important "that the control of the islands that China currently occupies in the West Philippine Sea be given back to the Philippines," with 74% answering it is "very important" and 19% saying it is "somewhat important".

In contrast, 1% each said it is "somewhat not important" and "not at all important". Another 4% were undecided, SWS says.
 
"The latest figure of 93% saying it is very important/somewhat important that the Philippines regain control of the China-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea is 4 points above the 89% (72% very important, 17% somewhat important) in December 2018. It was 87% (72% very important, 15% somewhat important) in September 2018, and also 87% (69% very important, 18% somewhat important) in June 2018," SWS also says.

In the same survey, 89% said it is "not right for the government to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories," SWS says. It adds the proportion has increased steadily in four surveys conducted since June 2018.

July 5, 2019 - 12:37pm

While the Philippines is still verifying the incident, fellow maritime claimant Vietnam joins the United States in raising concern over China's missile test in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the "East Sea."

"Vietnam suggests that all activities in the East Sea (South China Sea) should respect sovereignty and legitimate and legal interests of countries and observe international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, contributing to regional peace, security, stability and cooperation," Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang says in a statement.

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