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    U.S. rejects Beijing’s claims in South China Sea

    The Trump administration piled pressure on China Monday (July 13) – rejecting nearly all of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement called the claims unlawful and denounced China’s quote “campaign of bullying to control them.” That quickly sparked anger from China’s Foreign Ministry, who responded at a press conference Tuesday (July 14). “The U.S. statement ignores the history and objective facts of the South China Sea issue, violates the U.S. government’s open commitment to the South China Sea’s sovereignty issue, and violates and distorts international law. It intentionally stirs up controversy over maritime sovereignty claims, destroys regional peace and stability and is an irresponsible act.” The U.S. has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on some 90% of the South China Sea – claims disputed by neighbors like Vietnam and the Philippines. Beijing has built bases in the region but says its intentions are peaceful. Washington regularly sending warships through the area in operations to show what it calls “freedom of navigation.” U.S. policy had previously been ambiguous and did not take a position on the legality of the competing claims. But Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone. And U.S.-China ties have grown increasingly tense over the last six months on a number of fronts, from the way Beijing handled the coronavirus to its tightened grip on Hong Kong. And on Tuesday Japan echoed the U.S. comments, accusing China of pushing its territorial claims as other countries are distracted by the global health crisis. Regional analysts say it will be vital to see whether other nations adopt the U.S. stance, and what, if anything, Washington might do to reinforce its position and prevent Beijing from creating quote “facts on the water” to back up its claims.
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    World News from Reuters

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