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US alarmed by China’s ‘predatory’ practices towards PH, other smaller Asian countries

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The United States is alarmed by China’s increasingly muscular military presence and “predatory economic practices” towards smaller countries in Asia, defence chief James Mattis has said on his way to the region.

Speaking as he flew out for a diplomatic tour that will take him to Vietnam and Singapore, the US Defense Secretary said Washington was not trying to hold back its Pacific rival.

“Obviously, we’re not out to contain China,” he told reporters. “We’d have taken an altogether different stance had that been considered.”

“We’re two large powers, or two Pacific powers, two economic powers. There’s going to be times we step on each other’s toes, so we’re going to have to find a way to productively manage our relationship,” he said.

But he highlighted key sticking points with Beijing, remarking that the same issues have also rattled some of China’s neighbours.

“We remain highly concerned with continued militarisation of features in the South China Sea,” Mattis said on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the former capital of the US-backed southern regime.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea — building a growing roster of military installations on reefs and artificial islands there — even though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of strategic waterway.