China criticizes closer US-Singapore defense ties including surveillance aircraft deployment

China has criticized enhanced U.S. defense ties with Singapore that include the deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to the Southeast Asian city state.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying said Tuesday that a stronger U.S. military presence runs counter to the interests of countries in the region.

Hua's comments followed the signing of an enhanced defense cooperation agreement Monday between U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carton and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. The two officials also welcomed the inaugural deployment of the Poseidon aircraft from Dec. 7 to 14.

Such planes form part of the U.S. military presence in and around the South China Sea, where China has been taking increasingly robust steps to uphold its sovereignty claims against neighbors such as Vietnam and U.S. ally the Philippines.