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China Denounces US-Australia Navy Drill06/11 06:21


   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Friday said the U.S. and Australia were "flexing 
their muscles" with recent naval drills in the South China Sea, underscoring 
Beijing's sensitivity over the strategic waterway it claims as its own.

   The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis 
Wilbur and the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat concluded a week of 
joint operations in the South China Sea. Those included maneuvering drills 
along with resupplying vessels, cross-deck helicopter operations and live-fire 
gunnery exercises.

   "The ships honed their advanced mariner skills in a joint environment while 
enforcing the normalcy of routine operations throughout the region in 
accordance with international law," the Navy said.

   At a daily briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin 
said the two countries should "do things that are conducive to regional peace 
and stability, instead of flexing their muscles."

   The U.S. and China's neighbors have rejected Beijing's claim to virtually 
the entire South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in trade 
travels each year.

   Australia has joined them in expressing concern over China's growing 
presence in the South China Sea, most notably through its construction of 
militarized man-made islands built atop coral reefs in the highly disputed 
Spratly island group. Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam 
have claims that overlap with China's.

   China for its part calls the U.S. naval presence in Southeast Asia the 
biggest threat to regional security, particularly its insistence on sailing 
close to Chinese-held territories in what is termed freedom of navigation 

   In a bid to assuage concerns, Beijing hosted foreign ministers from the 
10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week, with Foreign 
Minister Wang Yi telling them China remained committed to signing a 
long-stalled code of conduct on activities in the South China Sea to prevent 

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