US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis (Photo: VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – China’s increasing military presence in the East Sea via the placement of advanced weapon systems in the waters aims to intimidate and coerce its neighbours, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said.

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, Mattis stated that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and electronic jammers across the East Sea.

China’s action is tied directly to military use for the purposes of “intimidation and coercion”, which goes contrary to Beijing’s earlier claims.

Mattis called out President Xi Jinping for reneging on a 2015 promise made at the White House that Beijing would not militarise the island features in the East Sea.

The US supports the settlement of disputes via peaceful measures and in line with international regulations and principles, as well as freedom and equality of trade and investment.

Earlier on May 29, Mattis said that the American nation will continue its presence in the East Sea as part of the efforts to ensure security, safety and freedom of navigation in the region.

The US is working to prevent China’s militarisation of man-made islands illegally built in the East Sea.-VNA