China became ‘more aggressive’ during Covid-19; deployed troops along LAC: US defence chief

The world has seen China become “more aggressive” during the Covid-19 pandemic, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said, asserting that the country has deployed troops along the Line of Actual Control with India and is acting out in a way that is “inconsistent” with international norms.

Esper said Beijing was trying to use the coronavirus tragedy to their advantage for “propaganda purposes”.

“What we have seen with regard to what happened in the last seven months coming as part of Covid, if you will, we’ve seen China become more aggressive, trying to use the tragedy, of Covid-19 to their advantage for propaganda purposes. They have really overplayed their hand and we’ve seen them continue to try and exercise this muscle in the South China Sea,” he said on Wednesday.

Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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