Last week, Washington accused the Communist nation of undertaking military drills near the Paracel Islands in the highly contested region. But China has now hit back at the US claiming they provoke regional relations.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang accused the US of ignoring “the facts, reverses black and white, provokes regional relations and attempts to benefit from it”.
He said: “We are strongly dissatisfied and are resolutely against this.”
Colonel Ren argued the military exercises were routine and not aimed at causing any tension between other nations.
Relations in the disputed area have been strained after China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan all have laid claim to the islands.
China and US tensions intensify in South China Sea
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China, over recent years, has started construction on bunkers on some of the atolls raising the prospect of a potential conflict.
The US has also began expanding its military presence in the South China Sea and have carried out dual-aircraft carrier drills with the likes of Japan.
Despite having no diplomatic ties to Taiwan, US Air Force planes have been spotted flying south of Taiwan and north of the Philippines.
This move has angered Beijing due to Taiwan being officially part of the Republic of China.
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Taiwan has also increased its military presence in the region after recently deploying marines to the Pratas Islands amid reports China were planning to conduct military drills in the area.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported last month how the People’s Liberation Army of China were scheduling large-scale beach landings on the Pratas Islands.
It was believed the beach landing trainings are reportedly to simulate the takeover of the islands.
These islands are considered to be significant for Beijing as they sit in a strategic crosswords which Chinese warships would have to pass when travel to the Pacific.
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Taiwan has also previously raised concerns of a potential threat posed by the Chinese air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
Last month, military news site US Navy Institute (USNI) reported China hinted at an ADIZ over the South China Sea for years.
The relationship between the US and China has grown strained over recent months due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
US President Donald Trump has continually blamed the Communist nation for deliberately causing the deadly pandemic.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also called for Chinese mobile phone apps, such as TikTok, to be banned from the US.
This week, India announced plans to counter Beijing in the South China Sea, adding another military presence in the region.
Amid growing tensions between Beijing and New Delhi, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to expand their strategic partnership to combat against China.
South China Sea is a highly contested region
Following the bloody border altercation between the two nations last month, protests have erupted across India with people burning effigies of Chinese president Xi Jinping.
In May, China’s People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps completed a military drill which demonstrated how the Communist nation’s forces could project power across the contested waters.
Several nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore have expressed concerns about the growing military presence in the area.