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: May 6, 2019 - 4:14pm

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.

May 6, 2019 - 3:35pm

China's navy warned United States ships sailing in the South China Sea to leave. China's foreign ministry also condemns the US Navy's activities in the important sealane as provocative acts.

The US has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in maritime areas where China has overreaching claims.

April 28, 2019 - 12:09pm

Congress must make sure the Navy has enough funding to build up its fleet and guard the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur) says.

"The Philippine Navy has to establish a credible presence there – in terms of  combat ships – if we are to discourage foreign seaborne threats, including poachers,"
Pimentel, a member of the House committee on defense, says.

"The reality is, the Navy lacks battle-ready ships. This is why we are having difficulty enforcing our sovereign rights over our EEZ there," Pimentel also says.

"Our naval warfare service should at least be as formidable as Indonesia’s, which has three fleets of larger and faster ships, including submarines." 

April 28, 2019 - 12:08pm

Congress must make sure the Navy has enough funding to build up its fleet and guard the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur) says.

"The Philippine Navy has to establish a credible presence there – in terms of  combat ships – if we are to discourage foreign seaborne threats, including poachers,"
Pimentel, a member of the House committee on defense, says.

"The reality is, the Navy lacks battle-ready ships. This is why we are having difficulty enforcing our sovereign rights over our EEZ there," Pimentel also says.

"Our naval warfare service should at least be as formidable as Indonesia’s, which has three fleets of larger and faster ships, including submarines." 

March 21, 2019 - 8:36pm

President Duterte says concerned Filipinos may file a case against China before the International Criminal Court, adding that he thinks it will not affect Manila ties with Beijing. 

"No, I’m sure they don't, the Philippines is a democratic country anybody can bring a suit against anybody." — with Christina Mendez

March 21, 2019 - 5:00pm

Here's a look at the communication sent to the ICC.

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