Chinese military officer on Taiwan, South China Sea
(1 Jun 2019) A senior Chinese military official on Saturday said that China has strong legal claims of the South China Sea, responding to comments by U.S. acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Lieutenant General Shao Yuanming’s comments come after Shanahan earlier on Saturday denounced China’s efforts to steal technology from other nations and militarise man-made outposts in the South China Sea for coercion.
Shanahan said that that the U.S. would remain strongly committed to the Indo-Pacific region and is ready to invest billions of dollars in securing its stability.
“China has sovereignty of the South China Sea without any dispute and a strong historical and legal claim,” Shao said after Shanahan’s speech.
While he didn’t specifically name China in early parts of his speech, Shanahan made clear who his target was, making pointed references to Beijing’s campaign to put advanced weapons systems on disputed islands in the region.
Shanahan’s remarks reflect America’s new national defence strategy that declared great power competition with China and Russia as top priorities.
In response, Shao said that Beijing has put necessary “deterrent facilities” there in response to U.S. provocation involving military exercises in that region.
He also expressed strong opposition to some of Shanahan’s comments on U.S. relations with Taiwan.
“If someone wants to break Taiwan away from China, the Chinese military will do all that is necessary to strongly safeguard the unification of China.”
Speaking on the back of Shao’s comments, U.S. Senator Angus King said that the last thing America wants is conflict.
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