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Experts term US views on South China Sea as 'unnecessary provocation'

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-31 08:45

SINGAPORE - Experts on Saturday described US views on the South China Sea as "an unnecessary provocation".

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Saturday in his keynote speech to the ongoing Shangri-La dialogue that his country will continue to fly, sail and operate in the region wherever international law allows.

Calling for "an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants" in the South China Sea, Carter also said that China is "out of step with both the international rules and norms".

Tseng Hui-Yi, research associate in East Asian Institute in the National University of Singapore, told Xinhua Saturday that the points Carter had brought up were "an unnecessary provocation".

"The so-called international rules and norms as what Carter referred to is the East Asia order which is dominated by the United States," she said.

In his keynote speech, the US defense secretary said his country will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

Responding to Carter's words, Tseng said most of China's maritime trade must go through the South China Sea. In this regard, China has no intention to disrupt the freedom of navigation.

"What the United States means by freedom of navigation is the freedom of conducting military activities in the region," Tseng stressed, adding that the United States still keeps its Cold War mentality.

Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore Nanyang Technological University, said that Carter's speech is not objective in an interview with Xinhua.

Oh said that the communication between China and other Asian countries is multi-layered.

"Besides military strategy and security interaction, China and Asian countries have tremendous volumes of trade which is more important. In terms of the Sino-US relationship, it also has wide range of cooperation and Carter shouldn't just focus on one single dispute," Oh added.

Organized by the Britain-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Shangri-La Dialogue brings together defense chiefs from 26 nations here as well as security experts to exchange views on key issues that shape the defense and security landscape of the region.

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