South China Sea: Lorenzana on 'developing' relationships

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The remarks were made by Senator Tom Cotton during a speech in which he outlined his economic strategy towards China at the Reagan Institute on Thursday. Mr Cotton, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also called on Joe Biden to abandon his policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards China and replace it with “strategic clarity”. Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory and believes it has no right to independence.

Recent weeks and months have seen an intensification of Chinese pressure brought to bear on Taiwan.

There have been numerous violations of the island state’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) by Chinese fighter jets.

Moreover, China’s Defence Ministry recently warned Taiwan’s government that a declaration of independence would amount to a declaration of war.

Like most countries, the US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is the island’s most powerful international backer and supplier of weapons.

Mr Cotton told his audience: “The United States needs to be clear that we will not allow China to invade Taiwan and subjugate it. Case closed. No further debate.”

He then called on the US to create “clear red lines that will require a response by the United States,” according to Defense News.

A “red line” would constitute any attempt by Beijing to seize islands claimed by Taiwan or Japan, the invasion of allies such as India, or attacks on US troops in North Korea.

Over the course of last year, China stepped up its military activity in the region of Taiwan’s Pratas Islands.

Last May, Chinese troops took part in military exercises off the coast of Hainan Island, sparking fears of an imminent invasion.

Since September 2020, Beijing has also sent fighter jets on frequent missions to violate the airspace over the islands.

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US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for Taiwan in a recent telephone conversation with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a statement released by the White House after the call, Mr Biden said: “I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for lunar new year.

“I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan.”

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