MANILA, Philippines — The United States Department of Defense or the Pentagon slammed China’s “bullying tactics” in the South China Sea.
The Pentagon called out Beijing following its “coercive interference” in the oil and gas activities of Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.
“China will not win the trust of its neighbors nor the respect of the international community by maintaining its bullying tactics,” the Pentagon said in a statement released Monday.
Acts of coercion toward Association of Southeast Asian Nations claimants, including the Philippines, raise doubts over Beijing’s cerdibility, the statement read.
The Pentagon also noted that China has stationed offensive military systems on its outposts in the contested waterway, where it also enforces “unlawful” maritime claims.
“The United States will continue to support efforts by our allies and partners to ensure freedom of navigation and economic opportunity throughout the entire Indo-Pacific,” the Pentagon said.
Washington has expressed concern over China’s violation of the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region.
China’s latest actions in Vietnamese waters contradict the previous pronouncement of Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June that Beijing would “stick to the path of peaceful development.”
“China’s actions stand in contrast to the Unied States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms,” the Pentagon said.
Just last week, the White House also accused China of “bullying” tactics in the South China Sea that threaten peace and security in the region.
China has been deploying warships and arming artificial island outposts in the South China Sea, which is also being contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.
“China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing,” US national security advisor John Bolton tweeted.