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China accuses US of “malicious escalation” of South China Sea issue

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — China accused the United States on Tuesday of “malicious escalation” of the South China Sea and unjustifiably criticized it after the Pentagon said Beijing was “coercing” into waters claimed by Vietnam.

Vessel traffic data showed a Chinese reconnaissance ship expanded its activities on Saturday to an area close to the Vietnamese coast after the United States and Australia expressed concern about China’s actions on disputed waterways.

The Pentagon said China “has resumed its coerced intervention in Vietnam’s long-standing oil and gas activities in the South China Sea.”

Referring to the China-Vietnam issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the United States once again reiterated its “reckless remarks and unjustified criticism of China, totally distorting the facts.”

“China urges the United States to stop this kind of malignant escalation behavior and play a positive and constructive role in regional and international affairs.”

The Chinese reconnaissance ship entered the Vietnam Special Economic Zone for the first time early last month, where earthquake survey activities began, triggering a confrontation between the military ships and the coastguards of the two countries.

Vietnam, which maintains close ties with the United States in light of their common concerns about China, has demanded the Beijing government take the ship out of the region.

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