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The exercises were conducted on Sunday and Monday. The latest military drill could be a way for Beijing to flex its muscles and intimidate Taiwan after the island nation welcomed a US diplomatic team to Taipei. The South China Sea is now the scene of a build-up of Chinese military installations.
The US has called the island fortifications, “platforms of coercion”.
This accusation was levelled at Beijing after China fortified the Spratly Islands, a group of coral islands in the South China Sea.
In a statement on Sunday US spokesman Morgan Ortagus said China has gone back on its word.
He recalled how Chinese president Xi Jinping at the White House in 2015 said China “does not intend to pursue militarisation” of the Spratly Islands.
Xi Jinping also said that China’s military outposts in the South China Sea would not “target or impact any country”.
Mr Ortgaus added: “China has instead pursued a reckless and provocative militarization of those disputed outposts.
“China uses these militarised outposts as platforms of coercion to assert control over waters to which Beijing has no lawful maritime claim.
“They serve as staging grounds for the hundreds of maritime militia vessels and China Coast Guard ships that regularly harass civilian craft and impede legitimate law enforcement activities, offshore fishing, and hydrocarbon development by neighbouring states.”
Beijing is building man-made islands in the South China Sea.
Since 2014 Chinese ships have been rapidly pumping sand and rock up onto slightly submerged reefs to create new islands.
These man-made islands now have seaports, airbases, and military buildings.
The rationale behind this is because the South China Sea is incredibly rich in natural resources.
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It has 11 billion barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and ten percent of the world’s fisheries.
Also, 30 percent of the world’s shipping trade flows through the region.
It is an extremely important body of water for the nations that surround it.
Most countries base their maritime claims from the UN Law of the Seas, which says a country’s territorial waters extend 200 miles off their shore.
But China only recognises their own nine-dash line that claims the entire sea.
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