Acting Defense chief Shanahan vows U.S. will no longer ‘tiptoe’ around Chinese behavior in Asia

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By Linda Givetash and Associated Press

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan blasted China in a speech to national security leaders in Singapore on Saturday.

In his first major speech on the international stage, Shanahan denounced China’s efforts to steal technology from other nations and militarize man-made outposts in the South China Sea as a “toolkit of coercion.”

He didn’t name China in early parts of his speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, a national security conference, but made his target clear by referencing Beijing’s campaign to put advanced weapons systems on disputed islands in the region.

“Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based international order,” Shanahan said.

“If these trends in these behaviors continue, artificial features in the global commons could become tollbooths. Sovereignty could become the purview of the powerful,” he added.

A senior Chinese military official hit back, accusing the U.S. of “harming regional peace and stability.”

“He (Shanahan) has been expressing inaccurate views and repeating old tunes about the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea,” Shao Yuanming, a senior official of the People’s Liberation Army, told reporters after Shanahan’s speech.

Shanahan’s comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China.

The Trump administration has been waging a trade war with Beijing, imposed sanctions on the tech giant Huawei and agreed to sell weapons to Taiwan, a sovereign island that mainland China claims as its own territory.





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