US lawmakers call China a bully over maritime disputes

U.S. lawmakers Wednesday accused China of bullying its neighbors to press territorial claims in the South China Sea but also raised questions about America’s capacity to police the region.

Three congressional panels this week are scrutinizing what they consider to be the security threat posed by China and its human rights record.

With the presidential election two months away, Republican nominee Mitt Romney has accused President Barack Obama of being soft on China, particularly on trade issues, as he has tried to cultivate ties with the emerging superpower. But criticism dished out by members of the House Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday was directed squarely at Beijing.

The committee’s Republican chairwoman, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said China was a “schoolyard bully towards its maritime neighbors” that aspired to be the dominant power in Asia, controlling vital sea lanes that could be used to choke off commerce and oil shipments. She said the U.S. would stand by its allies, the Philippines and Japan.

Read the rest of the story: US lawmakers blame China over maritime disputes.

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