China says the United States is exacerbating tensions in the South China Sea

U.S. Navy multipurpose fighter landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) while sailing in the South China Sea on October 16, 2019.

Catherine Lai | AFP | fake pictures

China said Tuesday that the United States’ latest rejection of Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea unnecessarily causes tension in the region.

The highly contested body of water, with its islands, fisheries, energy resources, military bases, and trade routes, is located on the southern coast of mainland China and between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In a rare move, the US Navy dispatched two aircraft carriers to conduct operations and exercises in the region on July 4, United States Independence Day. Beijing was already conducting military exercises in the South China Sea from July 1 to 5.

“The United States defends a free and open Indo-Pacific,” United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday in an online statement on the State Department website. “Today we are strengthening US policy in a vital and contentious part of that region: the South China Sea. We are making it clear: Beijing’s claims about offshore resources in most of the South China Sea are completely illegal, as is his intimidation campaign to control them. “

The Chinese embassy in the United States responded with “firm opposition” in an online statement in Chinese language on Tuesday morning, according to a CNBC translation.

“The statement issued by the United States State Department on July 13 challenges the efforts of China and the ASEAN countries to safeguard the stability and peace of the South China Sea, recklessly distorting the relevant objective facts of the South Sea of China and laws such as the ‘UN Convention on the Law of the Sea’ make the South China Sea a tense situation, provoke China’s relationship with regional countries and unjustly accuse China. China strongly opposes this, “he said.

The South China Sea is a shipping route of global importance and, according to the study center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, around $ 3.4 billion of world trade passed through the waterway in 2016.

High-level rhetoric between the US and China has become increasingly aggressive in recent months, amid a series of problems ranging from technology and national security to Beijing’s increased control over Hong Kong. , a semi-autonomous region that has enjoyed many more democratic freedoms than the continent.

Over the weekend, the United States issued a security alert to its citizens in China about the “increased risk of arbitrary detention.” It was unclear what caused the move, which echoed the language used in a travel notice to China issued in January 2019.

Many analysts expect tensions between the world’s two largest economies to escalate ahead of the US presidential election in November.