China on Saturday defended deploying troops and weapons on islands in the South China Sea saying it is the country’s sovereign right to do and allowed by international law.
It was responding to US Defence Secretary James Mattis who accused Beijing of ‘intimidation and coercion’ in South China Sea.
Speaking at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, Mattis warned of serious consequences if China continued militarisation of manmade islands in the disputed waterway.
Head of Chinese delegation to the Singapore event He Lei later told media that all irresponsible remarks on the subject are an infringement of China’s domestic affairs.
But all along, China had been saying its structures on the islands would only be used for defence purposes. Satellite pictures of the airstrip and a bomber taking part in landing and take-off drills on Woody Island (pictured middle) tell a different story.
He also attacked Mattis for defending supply of US arms to Taiwan which will harm the ‘one-China principle’.
Earlier, Mattis told the Singapore gathering that the US cancelled the invitation to China for a naval drill known as Rim of the Pacific this summer because of Bejing’s militarisation of the islands.
Mattis said China has to cooperate with other parties staking claim to islands in the disputed waterway or face the consequences.