31 May 14. China hits back after US criticises maritime claim strategy. China has heavily criticised US defence secretary Chuck Hagel for delivering a speech to a regional defence forum in Singapore that it said was “completely non-constructive” and “full of hegemony”. Speaking to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Mr Hagel on Saturday accused China of using coercion and intimidation to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea. He said Beijing “was undermining” its claims that the waters were a “sea of peace, friendship and co-operation”.
“China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” said Mr Hagel. “We take no position on competing territorial claims, but we oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims”.
China hit back against Mr Hagel who delivered a tougher speech than some Chinese participants had expected. Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the general staff who is leading the Chinese delegation to the forum, said Mr Hagel’s repeated “denouncement of China was entirely groundless”.
“Hagel’s speech was full of hegemony,” said Gen Wang. “It was filled with instigation, threat and intimidation, which wanted to incite the destabilising factors of Asia-Pacific region to stir up disputes.”
In his earlier comments, Mr Hagel said China had restricted access to Scarborough Shoal – a reef at the centre of a dispute between Manila and Beijing – put pressure on the Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal, and started reclaiming land in parts of the South China Sea.
Mr Hagel also pointed to the move to start drilling for oil near the disputed Paracel Islands which are claimed by China and Vietnam. Since early May, scores of Chinese and Vietnamese ships have been locked in a tense stand-off near the Paracels, as Vietnam tries to push back against China’s actions in the resource-rich waters. (Source: FT.com)
31 May 14. China needs to change its approach to regional disputes, especially as territorial confrontations are only likely to become more frequent in hotly contested Asia Pacific, a senior U.S. military commander warned. While agreeing that Asia needs Chinese leadership, Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told The Wall Street Journal that Chinese leaders “will have to make a decision on how they will help the region, and help lead the region through these issues,” rather than posing challenges to regional stability. “The path they’re on dealing with [territorial disputes] now is not productive for the region,” said Adm. Locklear, speaking on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security summit in Singapore, on Saturday. China needs to become a “net provider of security, not a net user of security,” he continued, and help set the region “down a path of compromise” underpinned by “a fair legal framework.” Earlier Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in the South China Sea, and of undermining the rule of law. China has come under increasing criticism from countries across Asia since deploying an oil-drilling platform in waters claimed by Hanoi in recent weeks and taking other steps to assert its territorial claims. China says its actions are normal activities in areas it considers its own territory. Adm. Locklear insisted that the U.S. is endeavoring to encourage China to assume responsible leadership of the region through the Obama administration’s “pivot” policy of sending more military, diplomatic and economic assets to Asia, and that it is in no way seeking to contain China. “Our strategy is to bring China in as a valuable partner,” he said. “I get asked all the time, Are we trying to contain China? I’m convinced that the only way we can contain China is if they choose to be contained, by their actions.” Chinese military officials attending the Shangri-La Dialogue have said they don