US accuses China of using coronavirus to build military edge in South China Sea

Build edgesChinese officials are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to enhance a military advantage over their neighbors in a critical international shipping waterway, according to U.S. officials.

“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 Monday, referring to the People’s Republic of China,

Chinese President Xi Jinping has deployed military assets to artificial islands in the South China Sea in the last several years, claiming sovereignty over the vast swaths of ocean despite objections from other nations in the region and American leaders. That policy took an unexpectedly violent turn on Friday when the Chinese Coast Guard reportedly rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel operating in the contested waters.

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