The Pentagon has announced that it is concerned about China’s decision to hold military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Last week, Reuters reported that China had scheduled five days of drills from 1 July to 5 July around the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) said that the designated area where the exercises are scheduled to be conducted cover contested waters and territory.

The Pentagon said in a statement: “Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC’s (China’s) actions will further destabilise 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.”

These military exercises by China are the latest in a series of its actions to assert unlawful maritime claims.

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Furthermore, the actions are in contrast to the country’s pledge to not militarise the South China Sea and the vision of the US of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

As part of the vision, all large and small countries are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth in line with accepted global rules and norms.

The Pentagon further added that it will continue to monitor the situation and expects that China will reduce its militarisation and coercion of its neighbours in the sea.