South China Sea dispute: China slams US after bombers fly over region

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China today accused the US of trying to “flaunt military force” to harm its sovereignty in name of freedom of navigation after two American bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea disregarding Beijing’s claims over the area.

The B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam airbase flew over South China Sea on late Thursday as part of operations intended to demonstrate the US commitment to freedom of navigation, the US Air Force said in a statement.

Asked about the flight by the US bombers, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told media here that there was no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight for the East and South China Seas.

“But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China’s sovereignty and security,” Geng said.

China and Japan have a dispute over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

In a statement, the Defence Ministry said China always maintained its vigilance and “effectively monitors relevant countries’ military activities next to China. The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability.”

China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea.

Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.

Since Donald Trump took over the Presidency, US dispatched two warships close to the artificial islands built by China to assert freedom of navigation.

The US flights over the South China Sea came as Trump is due to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg to discuss among others the latest ICBM test by North Korea, which could reach US state of Alaska.

Trump has expressed unhappiness over China not doing enough to contain its ally North Korea.

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