China hits back hard at US Defence Secretary
Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, Mattis said that China's construction and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea undermines stability in the region.
He went on to accuse Beijing of having contempt for other countries' interests, according to Reuters.
Responding to Mattis’ remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Beijing “is firmly opposed to that and urges relevant parties to stop their irresponsible remarks, fully respect regional countries' efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and play a constructive role to that end.”
Hua also said that China's construction of facilities in the disputed Spratly Island chain is aimed at improving working conditions for its citizens stationed there, maintaining sovereignty, and fulfilling China's international responsibilities.
Mattis also went on to say that although Washington is seeking cooperation from Beijing when it comes to North Korea, the US will not stop challenging China’s actions in the South China Sea.