US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel calls on China not to abuse its 'great power' in territorial disputes with Tokyo

The United States pledged to defend Japan amid growing security concerns

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned China against abusing its “great power” in a territorial dispute with Japan over East China Sea islands.

Tokyo has voiced growing anxiety over China’s military build-up and increasingly assertive behaviour regarding the contested islands, including last year's declaration of an air defence identification zone covering the Japanese-administered land masses.

China has also been ramping up military spending, building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles and testing emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air - technologies the Pentagon says appear designed to counter US military capabilities.

Hagel, who leaves for Beijing on Monday, called China a “great power”, but used unusually strong language about how nations should wield such power, saying they must not resort to coercion or intimidation because it could trigger conflict.

“Great powers have great responsibilities. And China is a great power,” he said, adding he wanted to talk with China about its use of military power and encourage transparency.

In remarks almost certainly meant to reassure Japan, a treaty ally that the United States has pledged to defend, Hagel pointed to the example of Russia's annexation of Crimea as the kind of action that would not be tolerated.

“You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it's in small islands in the Pacific, or in large nations in Europe,” he said.

Japan has drawn parallels between Russia's actions in Crimea and what it sees as China's challenge to the status quo in the East China Sea.

Hagel hosted talks last week with Southeast Asian defence ministers in Hawaii, where he also reassured Tokyo that the United States would send more missile defence ships to Japan.

The announcement came amid Japan’s alarm about a series of missile launches carried out by North Korea in recent weeks, including firing two medium-range missiles capable of hitting the US ally.

Amid the growing security concerns,  Hagel said that two Navy destroyers equipped with missile defence systems would be deployed to Japan by 2017.

It was a response, he said, to provocations from the North, which has also threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test.

The announcement followed other steps taken by the Pentagon to bolster its military posture in Japan, including an October decision to position second X-band missile defence radar there. That radar is expected to be operational this year.

“These steps will greatly enhance our ability to defend both Japan and the US homeland from North Korean ballistic missile threats,” Hagel told reporters at Japan's defence ministry.

Narushige Michishita, associate professor and security expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said the moves were “part of the US attempt to bolster reassurances vis-Ã -vis Japan.”

It also fits within the context of broader American efforts to bolster its military presence in the region, part of a strategic “rebalance” or “pivot” toward Asia that President Barack Obama will emphasize during his trip this month to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Read more: South and North Korea exchange artillery fire
North Korea threatens to carry out "new form of nuclear test"
North Korea fires more missiles
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot