Gov’t dismisses US criticism of South China Sea missile tests

China’s military said its recent “live-fire drill” in the South China Sea didn’t target any country and wasn’t held to achieve specific objectives, after the U.S. denounced the missile tests as “coercive acts.”

China fired at least one missile into the sea last weekend and was expected to continue testing until July 3, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing anonymous U.S. officials. The launch occurred while U.S. President Donald Trump was in the region for a series of summits, including a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on resuming trade talks.

“The relevant report does not match the facts,” the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said in a fax to Bloomberg News. It said the drill was a part of its annual training plan organized by the Southern Theater Command.

The Chinese statement refers to an exercise “in nearby waters” of Hainan Island, while Pentagon spokesman Dave Eastburn said the missile launch was near the Spratly Islands, roughly 1,000 kilometers south of Hainan in the South China Sea.

China asserts control of more than 80% of the South China Sea, overlapping with claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Bloomberg

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