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China Says 'Reckless' U.S. To Blame For Military Build Up in South China Sea

Christina Zhao

China lashed out at the U.S. Navy for provoking trouble in the South China Sea on Monday, after Washington sailed a guided-missile destroyer near the disputed Huangyan island without permission from the Chinese government last week.

China’s foreign ministry claims the USS Hopper warship came within 12 nautical miles of the island, better known as the Scarborough Shoal, last Wednesday. The island is subject to a rival claim by the Philippines, a historic ally of Washington.

It was the latest U.S. naval operation challenging extensive Chinese claims in the South China Sea and came even as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

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A visit, board, search and seizure team, from the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Hopper, departs Hopper to perform a noncompliant boarding exercise aboard the Military Sealift Command underway replenishment ship USNS John Ericsson, in this September 9, 2006 file photo. On Monday, China blasted the U.S. for recklessly 'making trouble' after the USS Hopper sailed near Huangyan island without permission last week. Reuters

The ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said in a commentary that, with the situation generally improving in the South China Sea, it was clear that the United States was responsible for militarizing the region.

“Against this backdrop of peace and cooperation, a U.S. ship wantonly provoking trouble is single-minded to the point of recklessness,” the paper said.

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“If the relevant party once more makes trouble out of nothing and causes tensions, then it will only cause China to reach this conclusion: in order to earnestly protect peace in the South China Sea, China must strengthen and speed up the building of its abilities there,” it continued.

The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” which is often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.

In the English version of the report, the paper said: “the reckless provocation ended in disgrace for the U.S. Navy.”

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The widely read Global Times tabloid, published by the People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Monday China’s control of the South China Sea is only growing and it is well placed to react to U.S. “provocations”.

“As China’s military size and quality improve, so does its control of the South China Sea,” it said. “China is able to send more naval vessels as a response and can take steps like militarizing islands.”

The Scarborough Shoal is located within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone but an international tribunal in 2016 ruled that it is a traditional fishing ground that no one country has sole rights to exploit.

The U.S. military says it carries out “freedom of navigation” operations throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and that they are separate from political considerations.

The Pentagon has not commented directly on the latest patrol but said such operations are routine.

This article was first written by Newsweek

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