Pompeo calls China’s disputed territorial claims ‘completely unlawful’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. is stepping up its opposition to China’s disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea, calling them “completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”

The statement appeared to provide a preview of an expected position paper in which the U.S. will officially reject specific Chinese claims for the first time, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. will technically remain neutral in territorial disputes, but in effect the Trump administration is siding with Southeast Asian countries with claims over areas China wants.

The announcement was the latest in a series of signs of escalating U.S.-China tensions, including sanctions against four U.S. officials in response to recent U.S. sanctions announced by the Trump administration.

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