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US to Deploy Spy Plane in Singapore, China Protests

US to Deploy Spy Plane in Singapore, China ProtestsUS to Deploy Spy Plane in Singapore, China Protests

The United States has agreed with Singapore on a first deployment of the US P8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore this month, in a fresh response to China over its pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea. China, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea, said on Tuesday the move was aimed at militarizing the region, Reuters reported.

In a joint statement after a meeting in Washington on Monday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore from Dec. 7 to 14. A US defense official said further deployments in Singapore could be expected. The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire energy-rich waters, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

“I think this kind of increase in military deployment by the United States and pushing regional militarization does not accord with the joint long-term interests of the countries in this region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

The US already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines and has also conducted surveillance flights from Singapore’s neighbor, Malaysia. The US and Singapore have long-standing defense ties and the announcement of the P8 deployment was part of an enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by Carter and Ng, which also covers cooperation in fighting transnational terrorism and piracy.

Washington has criticized 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. Last month, US President Barack Obama called on countries to stop building artificial islands in the sea and militarizing their claims. China responded by saying it would continue to build both military and civilian facilities on the islands.

Financialtribune.com