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South China Sea News: Tension in the South China Sea rises again as Joe Biden takes over | World News – Times of India

WASHINGTON: A group of US aircraft carriers led by USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South china sea over the weekend to promote “freedom of the seas” at a time when the United States is worried about Sino-Taiwanese tensions and Beijing is asserting its maritime agenda.
Taiwan, meanwhile, has reported an incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone.
The patrol comes a few days later Joe biden was sworn in as President of the United States and follows a year of repeated demonstrations of military might by Beijing and Washington.
REGIONAL TENSIONS
China has complained about US ships in the South China Sea near islands it controls, claims or built and turned into military installations.
The Trump and Obama administrations have carried out such patrols on a regular basis, apparently to challenge China’s claim to jurisdiction over almost the entire South China Sea, which an international arbitral tribunal has found has no legal basis.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Saturday’s patrol should “ensure the freedom of the seas, (and) build partnerships that promote maritime security,” suggesting that Biden, as with the Obama administration’s “pivot” strategy that he served as vice president, will pursue deeper engagement and alliance building in Southeast Asia, to try to prevent China from establishing regional hegemony.
TROUBLED WATERS
Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, have territorial claims on the waterway and largely welcome the American presence, mainly to control the militarization of China and its vast coastguard fleet and fishing.
Last year, countries in Southeast Asia expressed fears that escalating U.S.-China tensions could lead to a military confrontation, with the potential for significant disruption to a vital trade route, which would have serious consequences. devastating consequences for their economies.
The United States has accused China of intimidation and of attempting to build a “maritime empire,” announcing several rounds of sanctions against Chinese state-owned enterprises involved in building man-made islands.
China sees the United States as an alien interfering in a region where it sees itself as a force for peace and stability.
“It’s business as usual for strategic competition,” said Renato de Castro, a defense expert at De La Salle University in Manila, adding that the US patrol was “both reassuring and worrying.”
“The Biden administration cannot show weakness in foreign policy,” he added.
VIRUS DISTRACTION
Tensions rose in the wake of what the United States saw as China’s underhanded tactics to advance its territorial claims as its neighbors battled coronavirus outbreaks.
Vietnam and the Philippines protested against China’s establishment of administrative districts in the disputed Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. Protests also followed China’s military exercises near the Paracels, including firing ballistic missiles from several locations in nearby waters.
Chinese coastguards and investigative vessels were repeatedly tracked in 2020 near energy exploration in offshore plots operated by Malaysia and Vietnam, disrupting activities and leading to multi-week standoffs.
FUTURE PROBLEMS?
Although not directly linked, the US patrol came in a day after China passed a law allowing its coastguards to open fire on foreign ships. This could increase the risk of conflict given competing land claims and the vast distances traveled by the Chinese Coast Guard fleet.
The bill, which China says is in line with international practice, also allows coastguard personnel to demolish structures in other countries on reefs it claims, and to board and inspect them. foreign ships in waters claimed by China.
“The law increases the risk of inducing unintentional incidents at sea,” said Ha Hoang Hop, a member of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, adding that it could also be seen as a warning to Washington.
Several analysts expect the United States to continue patrols and strengthen relations with coastal states, and for China to step up military exercises and halt efforts to resume energy activities in waters it considers his.

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