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US to host China army chief amid South China Sea tensions

Published on May 13, 2014 8:30 AM
 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - China's military chief will tour American warships on Tuesday in a four-day US visit that comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors over territorial disputes.

An escalating maritime feud between China and Vietnam is expected to come up when General Fang Fenghui, chief of the People's Liberation Army general staff, holds talks this week with his counterpart, General Martin Dempsey, US officials said.

Tensions between China and Vietnam spiked after Beijing said it would relocate a deep-water oil rig to a disputed area of the South China Sea, with Hanoi saying Chinese vessels rammed its patrol ships and turned water cannon on them.

China has rejected criticism from Washington over its dispute with Vietnam as "irresponsible" while a US diplomat has voiced concern about "dangerous conduct at sea". China's clash with Vietnam is the latest in a series of disagreements between Beijing and its Asian neighbours over territory in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.

 A Chinese ship (right) uses water cannon on a Vietnamese Sea Guard ship on the South China Sea near the Paracels islands, in this handout photo taken on May 3, 2014 and released by the Vietnamese Marine Guard on May 8, 2014. China's military chief will tour American warships on Tuesday in a four-day US visit that comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors over territorial disputes. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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