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Over recent months, China has built several military bases on a number of the region’s atolls and declared dominance over the highly disputed region. But the US – despite having no claim on any part of archipelago – has hit back at the Communist nation.
Now, in order to counter Beijing’s “destabilising and malign” activities in the region, Washington has deployed several Coast Guard vessels to the region.
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement the US Coast Guard was “strategically home-porting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters… in the western Pacific”.
Mr O’Brien said: “The People’s Republic of China’s illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific, threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbours and endangers regional stability.
“The USCG is strategically home-porting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters, built in a proven Louisiana-based shipyard, in the western Pacific.”
He added how US efforts were “critical to countering these destabilising and malign activities”.
China’s fishing fleet is thought to be the world’s largest.
The country operates a minimum of 2,900 distant-water boats which fish outside of China’s own maritime borders, according to Eco-Business.
The South China is already a highly contested area with China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all laying claim to parts of the archipelago.
Diplomatic relations between the nations, which have laid claim to the islands, are already extremely strained.
But both the US and China have increased their military presence in the region sparking fears of a World War 3 outbreak.
Back in July, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo urged the other nations to counter against Beijing’s dominance and issues an alarming warning to the Communist nation.
He wrote on Twitter: “The United States’ policy is crystal clear: the South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire.
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“If Beijing violates international law and free nations do nothing, history shows the CCP will simply take more territory.
“China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law.”
Relations between Beijing and a number of its neighbours have sharply deteriorated in recent months due to disputes over territory and trade.
In 2017 the Quad security alliance, made-up of the US, India, Japan and Australia was reformed.
Earlier this week, Australia was invited to take part in the controversial Malabar naval exercise alongside India, Japan and the US.
The trilateral military event has been running since 1992 and this marks the first time since 2007 Australia has taken part in the military exercise.
John Blaxland, a professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, warned it was clear the expanded Malabar exercise is aimed at China.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), he said : “There’s one common factor here – and it’s not hard to discern what it is – that is driving these countries that would otherwise not be looking to work more closely together to all of a sudden overcome their reluctance, their uncertainty and their unease to double down on making this arrangement work.
“China has to a large extent brought this on itself.
“Its ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy, its unwillingness to negotiate on the South China Sea, its assertiveness across the Indian Ocean, and its assertiveness in the South Pacific have all raised considerable unease and have undermined popular views of China.”
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