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Insight - Civilians emerge as pawns in South China Sea legal chess game

HONG KONG/MANILA (Reuters) - On tiny specks in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, Vietnamese and Filipino children skip to school each day. Not far away, China is building lighthouses and weather stations on reclaimed land. Further north, a Chinese cruise ship takes "patriotic" tourists to a separate group of contested islands.

U.S. says China has placed mobile artillery on reclaimed island

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday that China had placed mobile artillery weapons systems on a reclaimed island in the disputed South China Sea, a development that Republican Sen. John McCain called "disturbing and escalatory."

U.S. Marines look to nurture integrated Asia-Pacific amphibious forces, China excluded

TOKYO (Reuters) - The U.S. Marine Corps is bringing together foreign commanders from amphibious forces deployed mostly in the Asia-Pacific for a conference aimed at taking initial steps to integrate their operations, with China excluded from the event, according to officials and planning documents.

China sea works halted

KUALA LUMPUR: In a bid to defuse the escalating war of words over the South China Sea territorial claims, China said it has halted its land reclamation and insisted on efforts to promote peace and stability in the area.

U.S. amphibious group patrols Arabian Sea as Iran tensions simmer

ABOARD USS BOXER, Arabian Sea (Reuters) - At a thumbs-up sign from a sailor, a U.S. Harrier fighter jet takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer in the Arabian Sea as an oil tanker passes, a nautical mile away.

UK government seeking further information on seized foreign tanker reports - spokeswoman

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is seeking further information on reports Iran has seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf, the government said on Thursday, urging the Iranian authorities to de-escalate tensions.

Britain replaces warship in Gulf, to maintain continuous presence

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday it would deploy the destroyer HMS Duncan warship to the Gulf to replace HMS Montrose, maintaining a continuous presence there during a time of heightened tension in the region.

Trump's Pentagon pick says he won't be bullied into making 'stupid decisions'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to become his top uniformed military adviser told Congress on Thursday that he would not be "intimidated into making stupid decisions," saying he would always give his best advice, regardless of pressure.

UK defence minister thanks Royal Navy for upholding international law - Twitter

LONDON (Reuters) - British defence minister Penny Mordaunt said on Thursday the Royal Navy had upheld international law by helping a merchant oil tanker pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

UK concerned by Iran actions, calls for de-escalation - May's spokesman

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is concerned about action by Iranian vessels to stop a commercial oil tanker, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Thursday, calling for a de-escalation of tensions.