World

Putin a bigger threat than ISIS: Republican senator McCain

SYDNEY: China is behaving like a "bully" with its militarisation of islands in the South China Sea, Republican Senator John McCain said yesterday.

In a speech in Sydney, Mr McCain said China was asserting itself globally, best illustrated by militarising artificial islands in the South China Sea, a claim repeatedly rejected by Beijing.

"I think it is very clear that the Chinese, by filling in these islands, are militarising them and that is in violation of international law," said the Arizona senator, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

To counter the perceived Chinese aggression, the US has conducted so-called freedom-of-navigation exercises, the most recent of which was conducted by a US navy warship near Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Mr McCain's comments are set to escalate tensions between the US and China just days before delegates from both countries are scheduled to attend a regional security conference in Singapore.

In an earlier interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr McCain said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bigger threat to world security than ISIS."I think he (Putin) is the premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS," he said.

"I think ISIS can do terrible things... but it is the Russians who are trying, who tried to destroy the very fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election." - WIRE SERVICES

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