Team Biden reaffirms tough Trump doctrine on South China Sea

FPI / February 25, 2021

The Biden administration has confirmed President Donald Trump’s legal declaration which rejects communist China’s emphatic maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Two Chinese coast guard vessels repeatedly entered Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands on Feb. 21.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Chinese assertions on the sea are “completely unlawful.”

The Trump declaration, made in July 2020, had marked a major shift in U.S. policy. Past administrations had said the U.S. government was neutral in the territorial disputes.

The United States also criticized a new Chinese maritime law authorizing coast guard vessels to fire on ships in the South China Sea.

“Language in that law, including text allowing the coast guard to destroy other countries’ economic structures and to use force in defending China’s maritime claims in disputed areas, strongly implies this law could be used to intimidate the PRC’s maritime neighbors,” Price said.

The U.S. criticism echoed comments in recent weeks by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Japan.

China announced the new law in January and it took effect earlier this month. It authorizes the coast guard to use force against foreign actors and to dismantle foreign structures in disputed areas. The Chinese coast guard is the largest maritime law enforcement fleet in the region.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called China’s new law “absolutely unacceptable,” during a Feb. 23 meeting with U.S. Embassy chargé d’affaires ad interim Joseph Young.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told parliament that Japan “cannot tolerate the new law” and said it could “intensify tensions,” Kyodo reported on Feb. 23.

China has declared an estimated 90 percent of the South China Sea as its maritime territory.

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