US accuses Beijing of aggressive behaviour in South China Sea

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: May 06, 2020, 07:05 AM(IST)

The South China Sea Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The novel coronavirus that broke out in China's Wuhan in December, 2019 has infected more that 3.5 million in the world, and killed 2,50,000. 

Beijing's Army is indulging in aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea and the Chinese Communist Party has ramped up its disinformation campaign to try to shift the blame on coronavirus and burnish its image, US has claimed.

"While the Chinese Communist Party ramps up its disinformation campaign to try to shift blame and burnish its image, we continue to see aggressive behaviour by the PLA in the South China Sea, from threatening a Philippine Navy ship to sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat and intimidating other nations from engaging in offshore oil and gas development," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at a Pentagon news conference, on Tuesday.

The novel coronavirus that broke out in China's Wuhan in December, 2019 has infected more that 3.5 million in the world, and killed 2,50,000. 

Last week, three US Navy warships conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to send a message to Beijing that America will continue to protect the freedom of navigation and commerce for all nations large and small.

Esper added China has not been transparent from the beginning on the coronavirus pandemic.

"If they had been more transparent, more open, upfront in terms of giving us access, the reporting, giving us access not to the people on the ground but to the virus they had so we could understand it, we would probably be in a far different place right now. But where we are now is this," Esper said.

China needs to allow the United States in to talk to early patients, Chinese researchers and scientists, and to have access, he added.

"Despite everything they did or, more importantly, failed to do, now they want to go out and say well, here's masks. We will give you masks, provide this, or provide that, we will provide you funding. Look at all the good things we are doing," he said.

"So there is a number of things they are doing to try and burnish their image. That is just two of them right there," he said.

The Chinese are also doing a lot of strong-arming behind the scenes, Esper said and referred to the war of words between China and Australia. He said he plans to talk to his Australian counterpart later in the day.

"All these activities are going on. It is straight from the Chinese playbook. Once again, it is just a little bit more obvious this time with what they are doing and how they are using a combination of compelling and coercion and everything else to try and shape the narrative and burnish the image of the Chinese Communist Party," Esper said.

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