Published: Wed, November 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

China urges United States to 'stop flexing muscles' in South China Sea

China urges United States to 'stop flexing muscles' in South China Sea

During closed-door talks on the sidelines of a gathering of defence ministers in Bangkok, Wei urged Esper to "stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", the spokesman, Wu Qian, said. The Chinese media said that both the defence personnel agreed over the military relations as a crucial part of China-US ties.

On Monday's defence talks in Bangkok, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe urged the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper to "stop flexing its muscles" in the South China Sea and to avoid adding "new uncertainties" over Taiwan, underlining tensions between the world's two most powerful nations, Reuters reported. Esper said at the ASEAN-US ministerial meeting of the annual ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

On Monday, China confirmed that its first domestically-built aircraft carrier, Liaoning, had entered the South China Sea after sailing through the Taiwan Strait. A spokesperson for the Chinese ministry of defense told reporters in Bangkok that Beijing wants the U.S. to halt what he called "provocations" in the South China Sea.

Despite exchanging diplomatic jabs, Esper held a short meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, over the weekend.

The United States accuses China of militarising the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours. Washington, in the meantime, has pressed ahead with freedom of navigation flights and sailing in the sea, through which about US $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually.

"Secretary Esper pointedly reiterated that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows - and we will encourage and protect the rights of other sovereign nations to do the same", Hoffman said.

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Chinese navy sailors march in formation during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at Tiananmen Square in 1949, on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China.

China is upset by so-called "freedom of navigation" operations by United States ships in the disputed seas.

Taiwan's defense ministry has said China's 002 is being tracked by the USS Wayne E. Meyer, a Japanese Aegis destroyer, and Taiwan's Cheng Kung-class frigates. "Nansha" is the Chinese name for the contested Spratly islands.

Taiwan's defence ministry said on Sunday a Chinese carrier group led by the ship passed through the sensitive strait with US and Japanese vessels tailing it.

The Chinese military, however, said that the voyage was a routine training mission, "not aimed at any specific target". Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

"Thailand's policy is to strike the balance, we can not choose sides", he said.

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