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    In this Aug. 31, 2018, file photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar is seen at center right after it ran aground during a routine patrol, on Aug. 29, in the vicinity of Half Moon Shoal, which is called Hasa Hasa in the Philippines, off the disputed Spratlys Group of islands in the South China Sea

    Matter of 'Sovereignty': Beijing Slams South China Sea Sanctions Proposed by US

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - China strongly opposes the reintroduction of the proposed legislation by the US Senate that would sanction anyone it deemed to be a threat to the stability of the South China Sea and urged the United States to drop the act to preserve bilateral relations with Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

    "Construction on Chinese territory in the South China Sea is a matter completely within our sovereignty. The [US Senate's act] runs counter to international law and basic norms governing international relations. China firmly opposes it. We urge the US not to move forward the review process to prevent further disruption to bilateral relations", the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement.

    READ MORE: US Bill Targets Beijing Firms, Persons Pressing Claims in China Seas — Senators

    Earlier in the day, the US Senate reintroduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act that, if passed, would require the US government to seize US-based financial assets and revoke or deny visas to Chinese companies and individuals involved in the assertion of Beijing's legal claims to the South and East China Seas.

    US Senator Ben Cardin said in a press release on Thursday that China had acted as a "bully" in both the South and East China Seas, encroaching on and intimidating its neighbours and he said such "aggressive behaviour" could not continue unchecked.

    The legislation was previously introduced in 2017 but did not move from the US Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate.

    On Wednesday, media reported, citing the spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, Clay Doss, that the US military had sent two warships to sail through the Taiwan Strait in the South China Sea, with Doss saying that the transit demonstrated "the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific". China issued a representation to the United States about the passing.

    READ MORE: Taiwan Holds Live-Fire Drills Off Coast Amid Tensions With China

    China claims the South China Sea as sovereign territory and has built military bases on artificial islands. The United States views the sea as an international waterway and routinely defies China with patrols by US and allied warships in so-called freedom of navigation exercises.

    The South China Sea is a major transit route which is also rich in fishing grounds. The territory in question has long been subject to overlapping sovereignty claims by China, the Philippines and Taiwan. The Scarborough Shoal along with the nearby Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, also disputed by China and the Philippines, are reportedly rich in hydrocarbons.

    When the UN court recognized in 2016 these lands as territories belonging to the Philippines, whose claim was based on the grounds of geographical proximity, China boycotted the ruling.

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    Tags:
    territorial claims, bill, sovereignty, sanctions, Chinese Foreign Ministry, South China Sea, China, United States
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