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South China Sea

Duterte minister lambastes Beijing as South China Sea spat flares

Philippines says China's maritime claim only exists 'in their imaginations'

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, have been going back and forth on overlapping claims of the South China Sea.   © Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines' defense minister has accused China of illegally occupying areas within Manila's exclusive economic zone and said Beijing's South China Sea claims exist only "in their imaginations."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's blistering remarks on Sunday came amid a new spat over parts of the disputed waterway, which has also become central to the U.S.-China rivalry in the region.

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