'China monitoring US-S'pore spy plane deal'

BEIJING • China's military is paying "close attention" to an agreement between the United States and Singapore to deploy the US P-8 Poseidon spy plane to the city state and hopes the move does not harm regional stability, the defence ministry said.

"We are paying close attention to how the relevant situation develops, and hope bilateral defence cooperation between the relevant countries is beneficial to regional peace and stability and not the opposite," the ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday.

China's Foreign Ministry, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea, said on Tuesday that the US move was aimed at militarising the region.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Monday welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore for a week.

The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea over China's claims to large areas of the sea.

Washington has criticised China's building of artificial islands in the South China Sea's disputed Spratly archipelago, and has conducted sea and air patrols near them recently.

Malaysia's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein yesterday said the country had no issues with the joint agreement, as any intelligence gathered would also be shared with Malaysia. "It's the right of Singapore to allow the Poseidon to be in Singapore and it is the right of Malaysia to not allow it in our territorial waters or base," he told reporters.

REUTERS

• Additional reporting by Trinna Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline ''China monitoring US-S'pore spy plane deal''. Print Edition | Subscribe