U.S. officials exchange sharp remarks with Chinese and Russian counterparts

WASHINGTON, D.C. / BEIJING / MOSCOW — Following Chinese military exercises conducted in disputed areas in the South China Sea and a U.S. warship conducting routine operations near the Paracel Islands in the same area, tensions between the U.S. and China have intensified as both consider that they have the right to conduct military operations in the area.

Both countries have exchange sharp statements, with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that the U.S. will not cede an inch in the Pacific to a country that does not respect human rights, stifles freedom of expression, and degrades the sovereignty of its neighbors.

Esper went on to say that the U.S. hopes to work with China to get it to respect the rules-based international order, even as Beijing repeatedly reneges on its promises and seeks broad military modernization.

The Chinese Defense Ministry responded to Esper’s statements, accusing U.S. politicians of harming U.S.–China military relations ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election in an effort selfishly benefit from increasing tensions to the point whether a risk of military clashes is possible, putting the lives of officers and soldiers on the front lines of both sides at risk.

Concerning another of the U.S.’s main strategic adversaries, Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent announcement of his country’s intention to deploy medium- and short-range missiles were met with warnings from Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who said it would trigger a new arms race and rekindle the cold war between the two countries.