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6 Apr, 2020 15:59

Washington warns Beijing not to ‘exploit’ coronavirus for S. China Sea disputes

Washington warns Beijing not to ‘exploit’ coronavirus for S. China Sea disputes

The United States warned Beijing on Monday not to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic in the South China Sea after Vietnam said Beijing sank a trawler, AFP reported. The State Department said China had ramped up self-described research stations and landed special military aircraft in the dispute-rife sea.

“We call on the PRC to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic, and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Vietnam said last week that it lodged a protest with Beijing after the Chinese Coast Guard “hindered, rammed and sunk” a Vietnamese boat with eight fishermen on board near the Paracel Islands.

Beijing last month accused the US of a “provocative” act, claiming that the USS McCampbell missile destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands without China’s permission. Tensions have risen sharply in recent years between China and the US, which has also alleged that Beijing has not promptly controlled the coronavirus.