KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - China’s actions in the South China Sea are primarily for humanitarian and navigational benefit to other countries but China will defend its sovereign territory, the Chinese defence minister told his U.S. counterpart on Tuesday, senior U.S. defence officials said.
U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter and Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan met for forty minutes in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and discussed cyber hacking and China’s building of artificial islands in the South Chija Sea, the officials said. It was the first meeting of the two men as heads of their countries’ defence establishments.
Chang told Carter that China’s activities in the body of water are primarily meant to help other countries.
“‘But that said, we need to do things that help us defend our sovereign territory and I need to be very clear to you that there is a bottom line to this,'” a senior U.S. Defence official said, recounting Chang’s comments.
Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan