‘Entirely illegal’: US accuses Beijing of ‘intimidation’ and ‘bullying’ in South China Sea

Adrian Ovalle

China has actually implicated the US of “stirring up tension” after America’s secretary of state said it would take a harder position on Beijing’s “bullying” in the South China Sea.

Territorial conflicts over little island chains in the area have actually been going on for several years in between China and neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Monday: “We are strengthening U.S. policy on South China Sea maritime claims, according to international law, in rejection of Beijing’s intimidation, bullying, and claims of maritime empire.”

Mike Pompeo implicated China of attempting to develop a ‘maritime empire’

He added: “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful.”

China has built military stations on some of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and the location is approximated to have huge untapped reserves of oil and gas.

It is likewise an essential international shipping path and an abundant fishing ground.

The Chinese embassy in Washington countered at Mr Pompeo, stating in a declaration: “The United States is not a country directly involved in the disputes. However, it has kept interfering in the issue.”

An image from 2016 stated to show China’s anti-aircraft weapons on Intense Cross Reef in the South China Sea

It added: “Under the pretext of preserving stability, it is flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region.”

China states it has a long historic claim on the contested area however some of it, such as the Spratly Islands island chain, is much closer to its southeast Asian neighbours and more than 700 miles from the Chinese mainland.

Mr Pompeo’s declaration stated the US now thinks about almost all maritime claims outside China’s acknowledged waters to be invalid.

A bird’s-eye view of the contested Spratly Islands – hundreds of miles from China

He likewise declined the legality of the extensive “nine-dashed line” that professes to define China’s claim over big swathes of the area.

America’s previous position was to demand UN-backed arbitration.

Japan has actually likewise waded into the row after a federal government report today implicated China of “relentlessly” attempting to “change the status quo” by sending out ships near the Japan-administered Senaku Islands – whose ownership is likewise contested in between China, Japan and Taiwan.

China is locked in a conflict with local neighbours however firmly insists the islands have actually long been its area

It comes in the middle of reports that Britain will send out one of its brand-new attack aircraft carrier, the ₤ 3bn HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the area next year to participate in works out with the US and Japan. The UK’s Ministry of Defence, nevertheless, stated a decision had yet to be made on any release.

Specialists state America’s brand-new method on the South China Sea might push the countries wrangling with Beijing over maritime conflicts.

Zhu Feng, director of a South China Sea research studies centre at Nanjing University, stated the US has “made itself into a judge or arbiter” and “it will bring new instability and tension”.

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