A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China is carrying out "coercive interference" in oil and gas activities in waters claimed by Vietnam, the Pentagon said on Monday, accusing Beijing of using "bullying tactics."

A Chinese survey vessel on Saturday extended its activities to an area closer to Vietnam's coastline, ship tracking data showed, after the United States and Australia expressed concern about China's actions in the disputed waterways.

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An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. (Associated Press)

Strange things were afoot in the Pentagon's southernmost parking lot on Aug. 6 when a man approached Pentagon Police Sergeant Kyle Murdock.

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DoD/Lisa Ferdinando

The U.S. is hoping to deploy new ground-based intermediate-range missiles to Asia "sooner rather than later," U.S. defense chief Mark Esper said of a move that could have huge ramifications for regional security.

Esper's remarks were likely to raise already-soaring tensions with Beijing and add to fears of a new arms race involving the U.S., China and Russia.

"Yes I would like to," Esper said late Saturday when asked if the United States was considering deploying new medium-range conventional weapons in Asia now that Washington is no longer bound by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the U.S. formally withdrew from a day earlier.

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

We've come a long way from "Mexico will pay for the wall!"

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A new report from Roll Call found that the Department of Defense continued to use offensive and racist terms on official government forms, including on death certificates for troops killed while serving their country, more than 20 years after the federal government issued a directive ordering agencies to stop.

After Marine Capt. Jahmar Resilard was killed on Dec. 6, 2018 during a mid-air collision that claimed the lives of six other military personnel, his mother Joni Resilard received his death certificate at her home in St. Augustine, Florida this year.

The certificate listed her son's race as "negroid" — which, as Roll Call's John M. Donnelly points out, is "an outmoded word for classifying black people that, to the modern ear, carries racist connotations."

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The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.

Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.

"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.

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