Hagel knocks Beijing over territorial disputes

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SINGAPORE -- China's aggressive moves to claim jurisdiction over land and sky in the Asia-Pacific risk undermining peace and security in the region and beyond, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday. Beijing scoffed at the "groundless" charges.

Hagel told an international security conference that the United States "will not look the other way" when China and others try to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea are destabilizing the region, he said, adding that Beijing's failure to resolve such disputes threatens East Asia's long-term progress.

A Chinese general took issue with Hagel's comments, saying that "although I do think that those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor."

Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the General Staff, told Hagel during a brief meeting after the defense secretary's speech, "You were very candid this morning and, to be frank, more than our expectation."

Another arrest: Police arrested a third suspect Saturday in Lucknow, India, in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, as a top state official said he was recommending a federal investigation into a case that has triggered national outrage. The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two other suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said.

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