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China continues to bully others in SCS: US Pacific Fleet commander

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 29, 2019  | 19:41 IST

New Delhi, Oct 29 (PTI) The US Pacific Fleet Commander on Tuesday said that there has been no reduction in Beijing's assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, a vital trade route in the global supply chain, and it continues to bully other nations in the strategic region. In an interaction with reporters here, Admiral John Aquilino said China's military buildup in the disputed waters threatens several countries, many of whom are American allies. The dispute in the SCS is between China and several others over the control of the Spratly Islands. Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have staked their claim over the islands. "I have seen continued bullying of nations in the region. I have seen islands or rocks turned into man made islands and militarised despite the conversations about those being for defensive purpose," Admiral Aquilino said in response to a question on whether he has seen any reduction in China muscling in the region. "They challenge and threaten all the nations in the region our allies, partners and friends. But none of those capabilities have been removed from those islands. So I would say there has been no reduction, and only an increase in pressure from China across the region to achieve their objectives." China has militarised some of the reefs, inviting criticism from the claimants and also from countries like the US which have been advocating freedom of navigation in the region. "Their increased military built up threatens the nations and partners in the area...threatens an open and free Indo-Pacific and that's why I say they haven't decreased," the US commander added. PTI PR PR ABH ABH

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