China criticizes closer US defense ties with Singapore

China criticizes closer US defense ties with Singapore

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday criticized enhanced U.S. defense ties with Singapore that include the deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to the Southeast Asian city state.

A stronger U.S. military presence does "not conform to the usual & long-term interests among the regional countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying told reporters at a daily briefing.

"So we hope the relevant side does more to enhance mutual trust among regional countries, & thus benefit the regional peace & development," Hua said.

p>Her comments followed the signing of an enhanced defense cooperation agreement on Monday between U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter & Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Singapore has long provided logistical support for U.S. military ships & aircraft, & the new agreement will take cooperation to a higher level, including in battling nonconventional threats such as piracy, transnational terrorism & cyberdefense, according to a Defense Department statement.

The two officials moreover welcomed the inaugural deployment of a Poseidon aircraft from Dec. 7 to 14, saying it would assist with "maritime security efforts," among other areas.

Such planes form part of the U.S. military presence in & around the South China Sea, where China has been taking increasingly robust steps to uphold its sovereignty claims against neighbors such as Vietnam & U.S. ally the Philippines.

Those moves have included the building of new islands by piling sand on top of coral reefs, followed by the construction of harbors, airstrips & other infrastructure.

The U.S. & others have accused China of raising tensions in an increasingly militarized region & called for an end to the island building. Beijing has rejected the accusations against it & holds that the U.S. has no right to comment on South China Sea territorial disputes.

China is moreover adamantly opposed to U.S. surveillance missions off its coastline, although the sides recently signed an agreement to avoid unexpected incidents that could lead to confrontations.

Source: “Associated Press”