China defence minister warns of 'limits' to Beijing's restraint on South China Sea

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 6/2/2024 4:49:58 AM

China's defence minister warned Sunday of "limits" to Beijing's restraint on the South China Sea and over the deployment of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dong's remarks at a security forum in Singapore were a clear reference to the Philippines and the United States, which have been boosting defence ties in the face of China's growing military might and influence.

"China has maintained sufficient restraint in the face of rights infringements and provocation, but there are limits to this," Dong told the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is attended by defence officials from around the world.

The Philippines and the United States are longstanding treaty allies, and Manila is a key focus of Washington's efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, which has enraged Beijing.

Given its position in the South China Sea and proximity to self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, Philippine support would be crucial for the United States in the event of any conflict.

The US Army said in April that it had deployed a Mid-Range Capability missile system capable of firing the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile in the northern Philippines for annual joint exercises.

The deployment of "medium-range ballistic missiles" was "severely damaging regional security and stability", Dong said.

"Acting in this way will ultimately burn oneself."

Dong also warned of "limits" to Beijing's restraint on the South China Sea, following a series of confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels near disputed reefs.

China Coast Guard vessels have used water cannon against Philippine boats multiple times in the contested waters. There have also been collisions that injured several Filipino troops.

Manila and Beijing have a long history of maritime territorial disputes, but tensions have worsened under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, brushing off rival claims from other countries, including the Philippines, and ignoring an international ruling that its claims have no legal basis.

Marcos has sought closer ties with the United States as he stands up to Chinese actions in the waterway.

In remarks to the security forum on Friday, Marcos said the Philippines would not give in to Chinese pressure.

"Illegal, coercive, aggressive and deceptive actions continue to violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdictions," Marcos said.

"I do not intend to yield," he said. "Filipinos do not yield".

Shining BD