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25 January, 2017

Trump administration threatens response to Beijing’s South China Sea territory grab

Cold War 2.0

The standoff between China and the US looks set to reach new highs, as the Trump administration promises steps to prevent Beijing’s takeover of “international territories” in the strategic waterway in the South China Sea.

The US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday. Journalists asked him if he agreed with the statement delivered by Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on January 11, that Washington will from now on take a tougher stance with Beijing over its actions in the South China Sea.

It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” Spicer added.

The area in question represents a route worth $4.5 trillion in trade per year. China, over the past year, has expanded its takeover of island territories in the sea, with the US in particular being alarmed at satellite images purporting to show weapons systems popping up on artificial islets.

Tillerson at the time also claimed that such tactics represent steps toward a sharp escalation between Beijing and Washington. He promised to send China a “clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.

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