The United States accused China of raising tensions through a new military garrison in the South China Sea as it called on all sides to lower tensions in the hotly contested waters.
Chinese posters celebrate and glamorise the capture of the Paracel Islands from (then South) Vietnam in a military clash in 1974.
China announced last week that it was establishing the tiny city of Sansha and a garrison on an island in the disputed Paracel chain, infuriating Vietnam and the Philippines which have accused Beijing of intimidation.
"We are concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea and are monitoring the situation closely," US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement, released on Friday.
"In particular, China's upgrading of the administrative level of Sansha city and establishment of a new military garrison there covering disputed areas of the South China Sea run counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region," he said.
Ventrell also pointed to "confrontational rhetoric" and incidents at sea, saying: "The United States urges all parties to take steps to lower tensions."
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