- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2019

The Pentagon issued a scathing rebuke Friday of what it said were China’s destabilizing military, economic and diplomatic policies across the globe, focusing particularly on the contested waters of the South China Sea, saying Beijing’s efforts were designed to upend international stability across the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

The 55-page draft review of China’s efforts by the Pentagon lays bare the Asian superpower’s attempts to subvert U.S. and allied interests to ensure Beijing’s military and economic hegemony on the international stage.

The Chinese government “undermines the international system from within by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously eroding the values and principles of the rules-based order,” the review said, the Reuters news agency reported.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan signed off on the new China review days before his meeting Friday with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore.

Mr. Shanahan told reporters in Singapore he planned to call out Chinese actions in the South China Sea in his address to the summit Saturday. He said those actions were getting in the way of the Pentagon’s hopes of a better relationship with the Chinese military.

“They argue that it’s defensive, it looks like it’s a bit overkill,” Mr. Shanahan said. “Surface-to-air missiles, long runways, I mean, seems excessive.”

The South China Sea has been a consistent flash point between China, the U.S. and Washington’s regional allies, due to Beijing’s far-reaching sovereignty claims and recent military buildup in the area.

China claims its territorial claims to the waterways allows the country to take defensive military measures in the area. The U.S. and its Pacific allies such as Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines have long refused to recognize China’s claims of sovereignty.

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