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Politics

US urges China to stop eroding other nations' sovereignty

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 1, 2019.    © Reuters

SINGAPORE (Kyodo) -- Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Saturday urged China to stop impacting on the sovereignty of other countries, underscoring security tensions between the world's major powers.

"Behavior that erodes other nations' sovereignty and sows distrust of China's intentions must end," Shanahan said in a speech at the Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.

"Until it does, we stand against a myopic, narrow, and parochial vision of the future and we stand for the free and open order that has benefitted us all, including China," said Shanahan, whom U.S. President Donald Trump intends to nominate as his defense secretary.

The remarks came as the United States and China remain at odds over several key issues such as what Washington calls Beijing's "unfair" trade practices, its military buildup in the South China Sea and U.S. sanctions on Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co.

In the South China Sea, Beijing has rapidly built artificial islands on which it has installed military infrastructure. U.S. warships have carried out "freedom of navigation" operations there in a bid to challenge Chinese claims and actions in the waters.

While pledging that Washington will commit further to the Asia-Pacific region to protect the sovereignty of U.S. allies, Shanahan asked the nations to invest more in their own defense.

"We need you to invest in ways that take more control over your sovereignty and your own ability to exercise sovereign choices," he said.

Shanahan also expressed readiness to continue supporting self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which the Chinese leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, considers a renegade province awaiting reunification.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split in a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since endeavored to undermine Taipei's quest for international recognition.

Trump, who took office in January 2017, is believed to be keen to contain China's economic, technological and military influence in an attempt to attain his nebulous "Make America Great Again" promise.

"Economic security is national security," Shanahan said, warning that Beijing's alleged intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, and opaque subsidies to state-owned enterprises have distorted free market competition.

Washington and Beijing have been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff war, with the Trump administration putting pressure on China to address such issues and take steps to rectify its massive trade surplus with the United States.

Shanahan also said Huawei, which has been a leader in the field of next-generation 5G mobile communications, is too close to the Chinese government, fueling national security concerns.

The 5G technology will enable transmission of large amounts of data at extremely high speeds, allowing telecommunication devices to connect to almost all products and services, including those related to military affairs, through wireless networks.

Huawei founder and chief executive officer Ren Zhengfei has argued that his company is not involved in spying activities, saying it would never comply with a request by Chinese authorities to share confidential information.

But the U.S. government decided last month to effectively ban American firms from supplying parts to Huawei and put it on a list of companies with which U.S. enterprises cannot trade without a license.

As for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Shanahan said North Korea "remains an extraordinary threat."

"We acknowledge that North Korea has neared a point where it could credibly strike regional allies, U.S. territory, and our forward-deployed forces," he said.

To achieve denuclearization of the divided peninsula, the United States will work together with China, Shanahan said.

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