BEIJING (AP) — China defended its activities in the South China Sea as restrained and responsible Friday after the U.S. intelligence chief called its expansion of outposts in the region an “aggressive” effort to assert sovereignty.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the country’s activities on shoals and in surrounding waters it claims are “reasonable, legitimate and legal” and that its attitude has been one of “restraint and responsibility.”
China says it has historical claims to a huge swath of the South Sea China that overlaps the claims of several neighbors including Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines, and it objects to what it considers U.S. meddling. The U.S. says it has a national interest in the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the region.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper cited China’s expansion of its outposts, including for the stationing of ships and potential airfields, at a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington on Thursday. His comments underscored U.S. concerns about land reclamation activities that could fuel tensions between China and its neighbors.
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