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The Obama administration is moving toward what could prove to be a dangerous showdown with Beijing over the South China Sea. The confrontation has been building for the past three years, as China has constructed artificial islands off its southern coast and installed missiles and radar in disputed waters, despite U.S. warnings. What troubles the White House is that President Barack Obama thought he was assured by President Xi Jinping in Washington last September that China would act with restraint in the South China Sea.The U.S.-China breach could widen when Obama and Xi meet March 31 at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.The Philippines argued that China was making an "excessive claim" to nearly all the South China Sea by asserting what it calls the "nine-dash line," based on old maps and claims.The Pentagon argues that the U.S. should immediately challenge any air-defense identification zone claim by flying U.S. military planes into the area.
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