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China's think tank says US naval operations undermine its sovereignty

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo, Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, also called the West Philippine Sea. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has considerably reduced tensions with China over contested South China Sea waters, says he plans to declare a marine sanctuary at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Such a move would keep away both Filipino and Chinese fishermen and prevent China from constructing any facilities, like it did on seven other features farther south in the Spratly archipelago. AP/Renato Etac, File

BANGKOK — China's government-backed institute for the South China Sea has released a report detailing an increase in U.S. military activities in the region, saying they threaten China's national security and undermine trust between Washington and Beijing.

According to the National Institute for South China Sea Studies , based on Hainan island province, the U.S. military has carried out more than 700 naval and aerial patrols in the region last year, deployed more advanced reconnaissance aircraft, drones, electronic surveillance ships and satellites as well as nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.

"China has become the No. 1 targeted country of the U.S. close reconnaissance in terms of frequency, scope and means," the report said.

It said that the U.S. made more than 260 close reconnaissance sorties against China in 2009, and the number increased to more than 1,200 in 2014.

Such activities are "also very likely to lead to accidental collisions at sea or in the air, making it an important negative factor affecting Sino-U.S. relations and also peace and stability in the region," it said.

The report also notes U.S. military alliances and agreements with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and most recently, Vietnam.

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The report said that from the U.S. perspective, China's large-scale construction activities in the South China Sea confirmed the U.S. suspicion that China intended to implement a strategy known as "anti-access/area denial," or actions designed to prevent an opposing force from entering an operational area or limit its freedom of actions within that area.

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