China on Monday welcomed US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ suggestion that diplomacy should be the priority in the South China Sea, and that major US military action was not being considered to contend with China’s assertive behavior there. Mattis, speaking in Tokyo on Saturday, blamed China for “shredding the trust of nations in the region”, but also played down any need for US military maneuvers in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and instead called for open lines of communication, according to Reuters. The comments came after analysts had said other remarks made by President Donald Trump’s administration had suggested a naval blockade. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a regular briefing that Mattis’ emphasis on using diplomatic means of resolving disputes in the South China Sea was “worthy of affirmation” and that the situation there was normalizing.
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