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20 Aug, 2019 16:52

There can be only one: Bolton accuses China of ‘bullying’ in South China Sea

There can be only one: Bolton accuses China of ‘bullying’ in South China Sea

US National Security Advisor John Bolton has accused Beijing of “coercive behavior” in the South China Sea – after the Pentagon boosted its own military drills, passages of warships, and bomber flybys in the region.

Beijing’s “recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing,” Bolton wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. He accused China of “coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security.”

Bolton did not specify any incidents in particular, but his tweet appears to indicate that the White House is throwing its weight on the side of the Philippines, whose claims on the South China Sea overlap with China's. Over the weekend, Manila protested after a Chinese warship sailed through what the Philippines considers a part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – and Beijing a part of its own.

Meanwhile, Washington has been flaunting its own maritime forces in the face of Beijing, regularly launching what it calls freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs), dispatching warships to sail the South China Sea – which apparently doesn't count as bullying in Bolton's books. Such passages aim to challenge China's “excessive maritime claims,” as per the spokesperson for the US Seventh Fleet, Commander Clay Doss.

The Pentagon also stepped up its naval drills in the area and sent B-52 strategic bombers to fly over the disputed island held by China.

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Officials in Beijing have blasted the maneuvers as “provocative actions” that violate the country’s sovereignty and damage “the peace, security and good order of the relevant seas.”

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