Want military relationship with China that is source of stability: Mattis

WION Web Team Singapore Oct 19, 2018, 02.04 PM(IST)

As tensions mount, Mattis seeks more resilient US ties with China's military Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Wei Fenghe and James Mattis decided to deepen mutual trust between the two militaries as tensions have mounted over the past few months.

US defence secretary James Mattis met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on Friday and declared that both countries should "try to keep on a path of transparency and stability".

"We want a military relationship that is a source of stability between our two countries," Mattis said after meeting Fenghe.

The US and Chinese military have been on edge over tensions in the South China Sea with US jets periodically flying over the disputed islands, a move which China has often criticised.

"We do not want tensions, we want a constructive relationship and we'll continue to cooperate where ever we can," Mattis said, adding,"we are concerned about the militarisation of the features in the South China Sea because of the inhibition of free and open commerce of all nations no matter what size."

The South China Sea islands are claimed by a string of countries including Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei leading to tensions with China. 

Wei Fenghe and James Mattis decided to deepen mutual trust between the two militaries as tensions have mounted over the past few months.

Wei, however, added that China stands firm on principles guiding issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and that the Chinese military takes "unswerving stance" on safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development.

During the meeting held on the sidelines of the5th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus in Singapore, Mattis said differences between the two countries does not mean confrontation adding that "competition doesn't mean hostility".

Ahead of the meeting, China's Taiwan affairs spokesman  Ma Xiaoguang had said that China was opposed to any "official contact or military ties" in any form between the United States and Taiwan.

"China's position on this issue is consistent and clear. The Taiwan issue, vital for China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, concerns China's core interests," Xiaoguang said, cautioning that all the parties involved to act prudently, so as not to "harm the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."