China dispatches low-level official to security conference

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China has dispatched a low-level military delegation to an annual security conference in Singapore that has dwelled heavily on Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

China's presence at the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting this weekend is being led by Lt. Gen. He Lei, vice president of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science.

That follows a recent pattern of not sending high-level officials to the three-day forum that begins Friday, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from China and its moves to shore up its claims to virtually the entire South China Sea.

At last year's meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sharply criticized what he called Beijing's disregard for international law by its "indisputable militarization" of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.