The US Defense Department on Tuesday criticized Beijing’s reported missile tests in the South China Sea, saying the actions were “disturbing” and contrary to China’s pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.
“Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands,” Reuters quoted a Pentagon spokesman as saying.
“I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that [China's] behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other (South China Sea) claimants,” the spokesman said.
An American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, earlier told Reuters that China tested multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles over the weekend.
China and the US have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which include a trade war, US sanctions and Taiwan.
China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
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