The U. S. has said establishing a "rule-based order" for the South China Sea, which carries a large portion of the world's maritime freight traffic, is critical to regional security and economic prosperity, both cornerstones of U.S. policy on the Asia-Pacific. China's territorial claims in the South China Sea have raised tensions with surrounding countries. Beijing has been conducting dredging projects on seven disputed formations for nearly two years, creating artificial mini islands.
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