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China-U.S. tensions on display in South China Sea and at RNC

China hit back at the United States after rising tensions abroad in the South China Sea and at the RNC, where dissident Chen Guangcheng spoke.

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Beijing officials lashed out at Washington on Thursday after Defense Secretary Mark Esper criticized China and a Chinese dissident featured prominently at the Republican National Convention.

Senior Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman at China’s Defense Ministry, blamed recent worsening tensions between the world’s two largest economies on the U.S. and pledged not to back down.

“The U.S. has continued to provoke and sow troubles,” he told reporters during a briefing on Thursday. “The Chinese military will not dance to the tune of the U.S.”

His comments follow China’s launch of medium-range ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Wednesday, 24 hours after it said a U-2 spy plane was sent into a no-fly zone over Chinese live-fire military drills.

The Pentagon said the U-2 flight conducted in the Indo-Pacific region was “within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights,” according to Reuters.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at Beijing on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Esper speaking in Hawaii, said America “won’t cede an inch” to other countries.

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Esper said Beijing was seeking to project its power globally and had not lived up to promises to abide by international laws. China dismissed his claims as “groundless,” saying the U.S. had withdrawn from international treaties and organizations harming global stability.

“China has always been the defender of international relations norms,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily press briefing. “On the other hand, the United States has used international law if it is in conformity and discarded if it is not.”

Relations between the two powers have seriously deteriorated amid disputes over trade, Hong Kong human rights, Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, transparency of Chinese tech firms and other issues.

One key area of dispute is the energy-rich…

Adela Suliman, Dawn Liu, Mosheh Gains

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