US Rejects Beijing’s South China Sea Claims in Major Escalation. The statement comes after the US held massive Navy drills in the region
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the matter. Pompeo went on to list specific claims the US is rejecting in waters close to the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Before this announcement, the previous US policy was to insist on maritime disputes between China and its neighbors be resolved peacefully through UN arbitration. But since 2015, the US has sailed warships near disputed archipelagos in the South China Sea in what it calls “Freedom of Navigation Operations,” a clear provocation towards Beijing that has done nothing but ratchet up tensions in the region.
Pompeo argues China’s claims are “unlawful” and cited a 2016 ruling made by an international tribunal in The Hague that took the Philippines side in a territorial dispute with Beijing. The smaller countries in the region all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, and the US has not taken the side of a particular nation, as Washington’s aim is solely to counter China.
It is not clear how the US plans to counter China’s maritime claims, but there has been an increased US military presence in the region. The US Navy conducted massive military exercises in the South China Sea on July 4th. Hundreds of military planes and helicopters took off from two aircraft carriers in Washington’s largest drills in the region in years.
The US drills coincided with Chinese military exercises near the Paracel Islands, one of the disputed territories in the South China Sea. Beijing always denounces Washington’s presence in the regions, a spokesman from China’s foreign ministry recently called the US military the “fundamental cause of instability in the South China Sea.”
China, US Trade Barbs Over South China Sea Naval Exercise
US Navy Chief of Information fires back at Chinese state media on Twitter
(July 6, 2020) — China accused the US of having “ulterior motives” after Washington ran its largest military exercise in the South China Sea in years over the weekend. The exercise coincided with Chinese Naval drills held in the same area near the Paracel Islands, a disputed archipelago.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet ran the exercise, which involved two aircraft carriers, under the guise of supporting “a free and open Indo-Pacific.” But China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said the US was just looking to “show off its muscles.”
“The US intentionally sent a military deployment for large-scale exercises in the South China Sea, and to show off its muscle,” Zhao said. “They have ulterior motives. The US is creating division among nations in the region and militarizing the South China Sea.”
Global Times, a nationalist Chinese state-funded media outlet, tweeted on Saturday that China has “a large selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons” and said they have “aircraft carrier killer” missiles. The Global Times also said any US aircraft carrier “movement in the region is at the pleasure” of China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA).
The US Navy’s Chief of Information Twitter account retweeted the Global Times tweet about the missiles on Sunday and said the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz are “not intimidated.” The US Navy also posted a meme on Instagram that suggests it has no plans of staying out of the South China Sea.
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