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China has warned that it will not stop its “great wall” in the South China Sea, saying that it has no intention of doing so.
In an unprecedented speech on Sunday, President Xi Jinping said that China will not “break” the US’ “greatest friendship” and vowed to “never break” the “greater” alliance with the US.
The remarks came a day after US President Donald Trump said the US would not accept Beijing’s “unilateral decision” to build a “wall” along the disputed maritime territory.
“I will not accept it,” Mr Trump said on Friday in a phone call with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.
“We have no intention to break it.
We are not going to let China use force against the United States, the great wall, and I will never let it happen.””
We have to be strong and we have to stand up to bullies,” Mr Xi added.
The US president’s comments came days after Beijing’s foreign ministry announced the construction of a “land wall” at the border with Taiwan, the first time Beijing has openly claimed a military presence on the strategically-important island chain.US officials have said the wall would be 100 metres long and 50 metres high, and would be capable of blocking the island’s main roads and highways.
“It’s very clear, that China’s wall in the south China Sea is not a wall, but a land barrier,” US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Friday.
“It’s not a sea barrier, but it is a land and air barrier.
It’s not just a wall.
It is a military barrier.”
“The land wall is not the same as a sea wall,” he added.
“I think you have to understand what the military is about.”
The wall would consist of a 1,200-kilometre fence along the 2,200km China-claimed border with Vietnam and three land-based military installations.
A Pentagon spokesperson said the deployment was “a milestone in our global efforts to ensure the safety and security of the American people, our allies and partners, and our allies’ economic interests in the region”.
“This is just the beginning of our long-term strategy to support the security of our people and our alliance partners,” the spokesperson added.
Mr Mattis, a former Marine general, said that the US was “ready and willing to defend our allies” in a war with China.
“We will not be bullied,” Mr Mattis said.
“The great wall is a symbol of our strength and determination.”