China knocks Mattis remarks on East Asia

China knocks Mattis remarks on East Asia
© Greg Nash

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry slammed Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' US could deploy 150 troops to Syria: report MORE’s assertion that the U.S. would defend Japan’s claim to a group of islands also claimed by China, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Spokesman Lu Kang said that Mattis’s remarks and the U.S. involvement in the dispute undermines regional stability and called a longstanding treaty between Japan and the U.S. “a product of the Cold War, which should not impair China’s territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights.”

"We urge the U.S. side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks on the issue involving the Diaoyu islands' sovereignty, and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation," Lu said in a statement on the ministry’s website, according to the AP.

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Mattis told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a trip to Asia earlier this week that the Trump administration would continue the longstanding U.S. policy of honoring Tokyo’s claim to the Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyu in China.

Lu also lashed out against Mattis for reaffirming a commitment to place a missile defense system in South Korea to defend against a potential North Korean nuclear Strike.

He said the installation of the system “will jeopardize security and the strategic interests of regional countries, including China, and undermine the strategic balance in the region," according to the AP.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE has frequently taken a hardline stance on China, accusing the country of currency manipulation and not taking a tougher position against North Korea.