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    U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis walks off an aircraft upon his arrival at Yokota Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, February 3, 2017.

    Chinese Defense Ministry Expects Pentagon Chief's Arrival in China on Tuesday

    © REUTERS / Toru Hanai
    Asia & Pacific
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - The Chinese Defense Ministry said in a Monday statement that it expected a three-day visit of US Defense Secretary James Mattis starting from Tuesday.

    Earlier this month, the senior US official said that he was planning to pay an official visit to the Asian state in the end of month.

    "At invitation of… Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe, the US defense secretary will visit China on June 26-28. The leadership of China, as well as of the Chinese Armed Forces will hold meeting with him," the statement said.

    According to the statement, the sides will exchange views on bilateral ties, as well as on the issues of common interest.

    "Development of sound and stable relations in a military sphere is in line with common interests of the two states, as well as with common expectations of international community," the ministry said.

    The press service of the Chinese ministry added that Beijing had been paying attention to enhancement of military contacts with Washington and hoped for making such contacts and important element of relations between the two nations.

    On June 14, the US-based media outlets reported, citing Pentagon officials that Beijing was deploying various classes of missiles to contested areas of the Spratly Islands region in the South China Sea.

    In May, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge not to militarize the Spratly Islands, Beijing had moved weapons there. In turn, Beijing said that it had the sovereign right to send troops to any part of its territory, and any attempt to criticize these efforts would be considered an attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs.

    The Asia-Pacific region has several territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas that involve Brunei China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. China considers the Spratly archipelago as its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims.


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