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US and China in escalating war of words over South China Sea territory dispute

Published 18/09/2015

Top US Navy commander calls for fresh patrols in the region (File photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Top US Navy commander calls for fresh patrols in the region (File photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The world's two most powerful countries are involved in an escalating dispute over territory in the South China Sea.

China has nearly finished developing artificial islands in an area the US-allied Philippines has also claimed.

It is feared the new islands will be used as military and naval bases to intimidate other countries and dominate the oil-rich region — which also happens to be one of the world's most important commercial waterways.

China says it has sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, and has no hostile intent. Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims in the South China Sea.

US Navy Admiral Harry Harris told the Senate China's militarisation in the region is of "great concern" and pressed for patrols close to "those islands that are not islands."

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Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
The photo taken with a tilt and shift lens shows a Chinese armored vehicle after taking part in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese military choir stands in position ahead of a military parade later in the morning at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. A huge military parade rolls through Tiananmen Square as Beijing commemorates the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat, but major Western leaders are staying away from the show of strength. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Invited guests take pictures of balloons released into the air over Tiananmen Square during a military parade in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
A KJ-2000 airborne early warning and control system leads J-10 fighter jets past a national flag during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese armored vehicle leaves after taking part in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese armored vehicle leaves after taking part in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese armored vehicle leaves after taking part in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese armored vehicle leaves after taking part in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOURFRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese military DF-5B missiles are presented during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ROLEX DELA PENAROLEX DELA PENA/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese military DF-5B missiles are presented during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ROLEX DELA PENAROLEX DELA PENA/AFP/Getty Images
A military vehicle carries DF-21D missile past a display screen featuring an image of the Great Wall of China at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, after a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
A military vehicle carries DF-21D missile past a display screen featuring an image of the Great Wall of China at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, after a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
A military vehicle carrying a Wing Loong, a Chinese made medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, drives past during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
Military vehicles with anti-tank missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
Military vehicles carry DF-10 ship launched cruise missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. China's unveiling of "carrier-killer" missiles and cuts in troop numbers underlined a shift towards naval strength amid growing Pacific rivalry with the US, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese soldiers march in formation during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONGANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images
A military vehicle carries a covered unmanned aerial vehicle past a display screen at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, after a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese war veterans salute from a bus during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / WANG ZHAOWANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
CAPTION ADDITION-ADDING NAMES China's President Xi Jinping (R) is joined by (L to 2nd R) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, South Korea's Park Geun-hye and Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they watch a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / WANG ZHAOWANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a review of troops from a car during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a review of troops from a car during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
A military vehicle carrying an unmanned aerial vehicle participates in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
People watch Chinese soldiers march through Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II defeat in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (Wang Zhao/Pool Photo via AP)
Birds are released as a crowd looks up during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircrafts of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology.(Rolex Dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, potentially capable of sinking a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in a single strike, drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing Thursday Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)
Chinese war veterans take part in a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II defeat in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, stand and observe a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II defea, from Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015 as South Korean President Park Geun-hye, seated next to Putin, looks on. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: A Chinese soldier marks the floor ahead of a military parade at Tiananmen Square to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: A portrait of Mao Zedong is seen as a group of Chinese military officers stand watching a military parade at Tiananmen Square to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese Army helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese ride in armoured vehicles as they drive towards Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Members of a Chinese military choir sing near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Members of a Chinese military choir sing near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers ride in armoured vehicles as they drive in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Backdropped by the Great Hall of the People balloons are released over the crowd at the end of a military parade at Tiananmen Square on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march in formation passed Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) chats with China's President Xi Jinping (R) next to South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tiananmen Gate during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers salute in a chorus at a stage during a military parade at Tiananmen Square a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese veterans look through a bus window as they arrive for a military parade at Tiananmen Square on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese military vehicles are paraded through Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: A Chinese military vehicle is paraded through Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers ride in an armoured vehicle as they hold machine guns while passing in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Military vehicles carrying Wing Loong, a Chinese made medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles drive past the Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Andy Wong - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Military vehicles with anti-tank missiles, drive past the Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Andy Wong - Pool /Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers ride in tanks as they pass in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Paramilitary policemen carrying flags prepare in front of the Tiananmen Gate ahead of the military parade to mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. China's President Xi Jinping and thousands of soldiers are to march in a military parade to celebrate the occasion. (Photo by Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march past Tiananmen Square before a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. China's President Xi Jinping and thousands of soldiers are to march in a military parade to celebrate the occasion. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Republican Senators, including John McCain, told the Pentagon to take actions that challenge China's claim to the territory.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was "extremely concerned" by the comments, and that China was against "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," a statement said.

Citing recent satellite footage, US expert Bonnie Glaser has said China is continuing to reclaim land in the region, despite saying it stopped more than a month ago.

This heated war of words has erupted just before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the United States for a week. It is thought President Barack Obama will want to talk about the ongoing issue of the South China Sea.

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