China calls on U.S. to "stop flexing muscles" in South China Sea

Clay Curtis
November 19, 2019

The two men also discussed Taiwan, a democratic self-ruled island that China claims as its own, as China confirmed on Monday that its first domestically-built aircraft carrier had sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what it said was "routine" training.

BANGKOK (AP) - China on Monday urged the USA military to "stop flexing muscles" in the disputed South China Sea, a point of persistent friction in a relationship both sides said was generally improving.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe called on US Defence Secretary Mark Esper to "stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", said Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

Early on Monday, China's Global Times tweeted updates of a meeting between China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and the United States (US) Defence Secretary Mark Esper. They met for more than half an hour on the margins of a broader Asia defense officials' conference. In brief remarks afterward, Esper said they made progress and agreed to hold frequent follow-up talks.

The South China Sea for years has been a major point of contention between Beijing and Washington.

China claims most of the South China Sea, including territory belonging to Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia, a source of political tensions across the affected countries.

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Lou Chan, deputy chief of the Chinese academy of military sciences, last month spoke at a military conference proposing an attack on two USA aircraft carriers as a solution to the South China Sea crisis.

China on Monday called on the US military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and to avoid adding "new uncertainties" over Taiwan, during high-level talks that underscored tension between the world's two largest economies.

The former US Lieutenant, General Wallace C. Gregson, has said to the media outlet National Interest: "Today the South China Sea is the most unsafe area in the world".

"The Chinese side also urges the US side to stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and do not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", he said through a Chinese interpreter.

The US did not immediately respond, but has accused China of militarising the South China Sea.

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