China ‘reinforcing tensions with US in South Sea’ says expert
Military aircraft from China flew over the Pratas Islands, which guard to the southern approach to the Taiwan Straits, over the weekend. Bombers capable of dropping nuclear warheads and fighter jets were used in offensive operations over the South China Sea.
Mr Biden’s US State Department lashed out at China’s aggressive military drills, pushing back against the military pressure on Taiwan.
In a statement, the department called for China to “cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue”.
They also reiterated their relationship with the country, and said their “commitment to Taiwan is rock solid”.
Also mentioned in the statement was President Ronald Reagan’s “Six Assurances” to Taiwan, which John Tkacik, retired foreign service officer, told the Hill meant “the United States does not accept Chinese claims to sovereignty over Taiwan”.
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Washington also scrambled its US Navy Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group to the South China Sea, albeit for routine operations.
While in the South China Sea, the strike group will conduct maritime security operations, which include flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units.
Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander of the strike group, said in a statement: “After sailing through these waters throughout my 30-year career, it’s great to be in the South China Sea again, conducting routine operations, promoting freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners.
“With two-thirds of the world’s trade travelling through this very important region, it is vital that we maintain our presence and continue to promote the rules-based order which has allowed us all to prosper.”
The drills marked the 20th Chinese incursion into Taiwanese airspace in a month, threatening the island nation and the US.
The two day-long military drill stretched over the weekend, with Saturday seeing eight Chinese bomber planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons, four fighter jets and one anti-submarine aircraft entering Taiwan’s identification zone
Sunday saw 15 aircraft over the South China Sea, comprising of 12 fighters, two anti-submarine aircraft and a reconnaissance plane according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.
Chinese forces remained in international airspace, but still caused alarm in the South China Sea with the incursion.
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It comes after Anthony Blinken was appointed as Mr Biden’s Secretary of State, succeeding Donald Trump’s appointee Mike Pompeo.
Mr Blinken has been aggressive on China, taking a tough stance on human rights abuses by Beijing and assertiveness in South China Sea.
He said to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “Let me just say that I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China.
“I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”
It also follows Chinese President Xi Jinping telling People’s Liberation Army forces at the start of the year to be prepared for war “at all times”.
After signing a mobilisation order, the Chairman told troops “not to fear death” and ordered them to ramp up training in “real combat conditions”.
Yesterday, Mr Xi also warned the US it risks a “new Cold War” if they continue protectionist policies introduced by Mr Trump.
He said in an address to the virtual World Economic Forum event: “To build small circles or start a new cold war, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to wilfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation.”
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