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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 23 said that the purpose of China’s People’s Liberation Army is not to protect its homeland but to “expand a Chinese empire.” Earlier this month, he warned China not to treat the South China Sea “as its maritime empire.”

Pompeo is actually way behind the curve. China has been in one form or another an empire for thousands of years. And its current imperial incarnation is not specifically because of its actions in the South China Sea.

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