In January, the Pentagon released a new national defense strategy in which it identified China and Russia as strategic military threats. The strategy also deemed China a strategic competitor due to threats from Beijing’s unfair economic and trade policies. China recently deployed advanced anti-ship missiles and air-defense missiles on disputed islands in the South China Sea. China has built up approximately 3,200 acres of new islands in recent years, including substantial militarization with facilities, runways, bunkers, storage areas and now missiles. The missile deployments violate a pledge made by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a Sept. 2015 summit with then-President Barack Obama. Jinping promised not to militarize the disputed islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines Vietnam, and several other countries in the region. Last month, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to the Chinese navy from participating in the upcoming U.S.-led international naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). Pang Zhongying, a professor of international relations at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, told the South China Morning Post that the deteriorating military ties between the U.S. and China could lead to conflict. “This is a critical time for managing the worsening relationship. So we should watch for who Mattis meets – if it’s just his counterpart, or whether he meets a more senior figure,” Pang said. Earlier this month, Mattis criticized China for “intimidating and coercion” toward Taiwan, an ally of the U.S. China recently flew bombers near the island, located 100 miles off China’s southern coast. China deems Taiwan a “wayward province” that may need to be controlled through force.
#SecDef Mattis arrives in #Fairbanks, #Alaska, June 24, where he will visit Fort Greely and @EielsonAirForce Base before heading to #China, #SouthKorea and #Japan to meet with senior officials during his seventh trip to the #IndoPacific region. #SecDefTravels pic.twitter.com/skNGnnuHzj— Dana W. White – DoD (@ChiefPentSpox) June 25, 2018
June 25, 2018