China: Beijing residents receive COVID vaccines

On Tuesday Beijing said it would conduct military exercises in the South China Sea this week. The politburo complained at the weekend about a US aircraft carrier group that had sailed through the disputed waters. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt led a group of US vessels into the South China Sea on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas”.

On Monday Beijing complained that the US flotilla was attempting to “flex its muscles” and that this was not conducive to peace in the region.

This was followed by China’s Maritime Safety Administration organisation issuing a notice prohibiting foreign vessels entry into a portion of waters in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam.

This has been suggested as a prelude to conducting military drills in this area.

The notice prohibited any foreign entry between the dates of January 27 to January 30.

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This also revealed China’s assertion that the majority of the territorial waters of the South China Sea are owned by Beijing.

China has been asserting its military might in other areas of the South China Sea over the past few days.

Over the weekend China dispatched two large formations of warplanes close to the coast of Taiwan.

This ongoing pressure on Taiwan will become a foreign policy challenge to new United States President Joe Biden.

The frequency of China’s flights into Taiwanese airspace has increased in recent years.

The timing of the latest flights could be a way for Beijing to send a message to the new Biden administration in Washington.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact that Taiwan has been an independent country for more than seven decades.

President Xi Jinping of China has refused to rule out the use of force in Beijing’s ambitions to take over the island.

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Beijing claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.

Their basis is the historic “nine-dash line” that maps out for China almost the entire maritime region.

The waters are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei as well as Taiwan.

China is closing the gap both economically and militarily with the US.

On Monday White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s administration will begin its China policy with “patience”.

She added: “We’re in a serious competition with China.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is that China is growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad.

“And Beijing is now challenging our security, prosperity, and values in significant ways that require a new US approach.”

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