August 27, 2020
DOD Statement on Recent Chinese Ballistic Missile Launches
"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People's Republic of China (PRC) recent decision to conduct military exercises, including the firing of ballistic missiles, around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on August 23-29.
Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC's actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and call into question its motivations with ongoing negotiations for a Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN.
This military exercise is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC's actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarize the South China Sea and are in contrast to the United States' vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms.
The Department of Defense alerted the PRC in July that we would continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that the PRC will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC chose to escalate its exercise activities by firing ballistic missiles. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that could threaten freedom of navigation and aggravate disputes in the South China Sea."
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