Pentagon denounces China over military activities

The US Defense Department has denounced China over its increasing military activities in the South China Sea, including the recent firing of ballistic missiles. China has frequently conducted military drills in the area over the past two months.

The statement on Thursday came after the US military said China had fired four ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Wednesday. The missiles reportedly fell between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands.

The Pentagon said it had told Beijing in July that it would continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that China will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea.

But it said China chose to escalate its military activities by firing ballistic missiles.

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines and others in the disputed waters. The Defense Department also called on all parties to exercise restraint and not to undertake military activities.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper is scheduled to visit Palau over the weekend. The island nation maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Esper also plans to hold talks in Guam with Japanese Defense Minister Kono Taro.

The moves are apparently aimed at strengthening cooperation to counter China's presence.