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U.S. won't 'tiptoe' around China with Asia stability at threat: defense chief

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim

The United States will no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behavior in Asia, with stability in the region threatened on issues ranging from the South China Sea to Taiwan, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday.

Shanahan did not directly name China when making accusations of “actors” destabilizing the region, but went on to say the United States would not ignore Chinese behavior, the latest in the exchange of acerbic remarks between the world’s two biggest economies. He added, however, he was keen to foster a military relationship with Beijing.

“Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based international order,” Shanahan said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia’s biggest security gathering.


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