American military commander says US should challenge China’s claims in South China Sea; Beijing expresses concern


The commander of US forces in the Pacific said ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping to Washington that America should challenge China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea by patrolling close to artificial islands built by Beijing.

Admiral Harry Harris told a Senate hearing on Thursday that China’s building of three airfields on the islands and their further militarisation was of great concern militarily and posed a threat to all countries in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was “extremely concerned” about the comments and China opposed “any country challenging China’s sovereignty and security in the name of protecting freedom of navigation”.

“We demand that the relevant country speak and act cautiously, earnestly respect China’s sovereignty and security interests, and not take any risky or provocative acts,” Hong said at a daily news briefing on Friday.

Read more: