WASHINGTON The United States has agreed with Singapore on a first deployment of the U.S. P8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore this month, in a fresh response to China more than its pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea.
China, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea, said on Tuesday the move was aimed at militarizing the area.
In a joint statement right after a meeting in Washington on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore from Dec. 7 to 14.
A U.S. defense official stated further deployments in Singapore could be anticipated. The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea.
China claims virtually the complete energy-rich waters, through which far more than $ 5 trillion of maritime trade passes every year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
“I feel this sort of increase in military deployment by the United States and pushing regional militarization does not accord with the joint extended-term interests of the nations in this region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
China believes that Singapore, like other nations in the area, desires to see a peaceful and prosperous Southeast Asia, she added.
The United States already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines, and has also carried out surveillance flights from Singapore’s neighbor, Malaysia.
The statement stated the P8 deployment in Singapore would “promote higher interoperability with regional militaries via participation in bilateral and multilateral workouts, while supplying timely support for regional HADR and maritime security efforts.”
HADR is an acronym for Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations.
The United States and Singapore have lengthy-standing defense ties and the announcement of the P8 deployment was element of an enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by Carter and Ng, which also covers cooperation in fighting transnational terrorism and piracy.
Washington has criticized China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea’s disputed Spratly archipelago, and has conducted sea and air patrols close to them not too long ago.
Final month, U.S. President Barack Obama known as on nations to stop constructing artificial islands in the sea and militarizing their claims. He mentioned the United States would continue to assert its freedom-of-navigation rights.
China responded by saying it would continue to develop both military and civilian facilities on the islands.
Last month, U.S. B-52 bombers flew near some of China’s artificial islands and at the end of October a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed inside 12 nautical miles of 1 of them.
In Could, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8 that flew close to the islands, according to CNN, which was aboard the U.S. aircraft.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Nick Macfie)