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Beijing responded to US officials who have issued damning reports of China’s environmental damage to the South China Sea. The South China Sea has been a focal point of US and China relations this year, with both countries accusing the other of “bullying” in a bid for control over the waters.
Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, responded to the US’ attacks over the environment and targeted Washington’s record on climate change.
Mr Wang pointed to the US pulling out of the Paris agreement, which aimed to limit a rise in global temperatures, in 2017.
The spokesman said Washington’s decision on the agreement is evidence the US is the “biggest destroyer of international environmental cooperation”.
He added the US’ military actions against China make it “the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the South China Sea”.
Mr Wang’s comments follow a series of US officials attacking Beijing for its environmental damage to the disputed waters.
Last week, Washington’s State Department issued a document attacking China’s record on climate issues such as wildlife trafficking, illegal logging and pollution.
It added: “While the Chinese people have suffered the worst environmental impacts of its actions, Beijing also threatens the global economy and global health by unsustainably exploiting natural resources and exporting its wilful disregard for the environment.”
Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the department, also claimed on Sunday China has “pursued a reckless and provocative militarisation” of the disputed waters.
Washington has frequently attacked Beijing for its environmental practices.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a $150 million investment into a partnership with Indo-Pacific countries such as Vietnam and Thailand to protect the Mekong River.
Mr Pompeo said the river is “an integral part of our Indo-Pacific vision and our strategic relationship” with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
He also accused Beijing of “increasingly threatening the Mekong’s natural environment and economic autonomy” when announcing the coalition.
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China has pushed back before against the US’s claims, claiming Washington is using environmental concerns to force Western influence in the region.
Bi Shihong, professor at the Centre for China’s Neighbour Diplomacy Studies, told China’s leading state-media outlet the Global Times the US were only involved in Mekong for political reasons.
He added: “Many of those self-proclaimed US researchers did not even conduct field work in the Mekong basin before drawing their ‘conclusions’.
“The reports of those institutions are less scientifically valuable, and member countries usually review the conclusions independently with more caution.”
The environmental comments are the latest shots between the two countries over the South China Sea, with Washington and Beijing escalating military presence in the waters.
At the end of August, China fired two missiles into the sea during a naval drill in a clear warning to the US.
Jonathan Moss, Head of Transport at DWF, told Express.co.uk China has no legal right to claim the South China Sea as its own.
He added there is “definitely a risk of all-out conflict” over the territory disputes.
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