US OFFICIALS savaged Beijing for carrying out a “truly disturbing” missile test in the hotly disputed South China Sea.
The Pentagon issued the ardent message to its counterparts in China following the Chinese government conducting ballistic missile testing in the waters. In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said one anti-ship weapon was seen in the waters within the last few days. According to news.com.au, he added: “Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands.
“What’s truly disturbing about this act is that it’s in direct contradiction to President Xi’s statement in the Rose Garden in 2015 when he pledged to the US, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world, that he would not militarise those man-made outposts.”
Tensions over the water have been boiling in recent months, with arguments escalating between the US and China.
Fears of open conflict over the South China Sea have also been raised.
China claims the waters, but Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines also believe it is theirs.
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The US, which refuses to recognise Chinese sovereignty, has been sending warships on regular patrols through the region.
Australia waded into the row by acknowledging it was aware of the tests before voicing concerns over them.
A Defence Department spokesperson said: “Australia is concerned at actions by any claimant that could raise tensions in the South China Sea.
“Australia does not take sides on competing territorial claims in the South China Sea.
“However, we do have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway and the norms and laws that govern it.
“We consistently urge all claimants to take meaningful steps to ease tensions and build trust, including through dialogue.”
The latest development comes at a time when China and the US have been embroiled in a trade war.
The spat was put on hold while both country’s leaders attended the G20 Summit last week.