As relations between US and China continue to worsen, Trump Administration is signalling a hardening of stance towards Beijing.
A slew of recent statements from Washington has made it clear that relations between the US and China have hit a new low. On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper vowed to deter against China’s coercive behaviour in South China Sea.
The US is equipping and positioning its forces across Asia for a possible confrontation with China, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday in remarks outlining the military component of the Trump administration’s hardening stance toward Beijing, reported The Wall Street Journal.
We firmly believe no single nation can – or should – dominate the public commons, and we will continue to work alongside our Allies and partners to support a prosperous Indo-Pacific for all.https://t.co/TN0sSQ1nlj
— Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) July 21, 2020
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The Pentagon chief, while addressing the special presentation for International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that Washington wants to make sure a free and open Pacific because 80 per cent of the world’s trade flows through the region.
“We want to deter against coercive behaviour by the Chinese in the South China Sea, now we know it’s been going on for years, China is bullying others, particularly smaller countries, it seems your arm gets twisted harder the smaller the country you are, so we want to continue to deter against coercive behaviour,” Esper said.
“Eighty per cent of the world’s trade flows through the Indo-Pacific and particularly the South China Sea, so we want to make sure that we maintain a free and open Pacific because otherwise that trade, commerce gets cut off and gets impacted. It is very important we maintain freedom of navigation,” Esper noted.
On Tuesday itself, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo once again blasted at Beijing and urged nations to push back against the Asian giant, disgruntled on the fact that rather than helping the world during this COVID-19 crisis, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is bullying its neighbours and militarise features in the South China Sea.
Following his talks with British foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Pompeo used the press to accuse China of engaging in “a cover-up and co-opting” the World Health Organisation by allegedly suppressing early details of the “preventable” coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 610,000 people globally.
“The CCP’s exploitation of this disaster to further its own interests has been disgraceful. Rather than helping the world, General Secretary Xi has shown the world the party’s true face. We talked about how we have seen Hong Kong’s freedoms crushed. We have watched the CCP bully its neighbours, militarise features in the South China Sea, and instigate a deadly confrontation with India,” the American top diplomat said at a press briefing.
“We think that the entire world needs to work together to ensure that every country, including China, behaves in the international system in ways that are appropriate and consistent with the international order. You cannot go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to. You cannot threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas. You cannot engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organisation,” he added.
The remarks come close on the heels of dual exercises in the South China Sea conducted by the USS Ronald and USS Nimitz carrier strikes groups. The presence of the US in the South China Sea has irked China, which claims 3.3 million square miles of the 3.5 million area as its sovereign territory.
The region is currently disputed between seven countries; Vietnam, Brunei, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the US has asked China to close its Consulate General in Houston in 72 hours.
The US and China have sparred over several issues in recent times including imposition of National Security Law in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang and Beijing’s territorial aggression in South China Sea.
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