Biden Begins Visit to Asia China Launches Military Exercises in Controversial South China Sea

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KEY POINTS

  • China claims a large portion of the disputed waterway with major shipping lanes
  • Beijing has also built artificial islands and airports on some of its reefs and islets.
  • The country’s activities in the South China Sea have caused concern in the region and in the United States

China began military exercises in the disputed South China Sea on Thursday; this coincides with US President Joe Biden’s visits to South Korea and Japan amid the growing threat from Beijing.

The Maritime Security Administration office in the south island state of Hainan announced that the exercises will continue until Monday and that other aircraft and ships will be banned from entering the area. The Associated Press reported. However, no further details were given by the Chinese authorities.

China claims a large portion of the disputed waterway with large shipping lanes on it. Beijing has also built artificial islands and airports on some of its reefs and islets. The country’s activities in the South China Sea have caused concern in the region and in the United States

The United States also conducted frequent naval operations in the South China Sea to defend the rights and freedoms of navigation in disputed waters, without prejudice to sovereignty disputes. However, China has protested these moves, calling them deliberate provocations that jeopardize peace and stability in the region.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also make overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Biden traveled to South Korea and Japan on Thursday for dialogues to consolidate US leadership in Asia, which came amid fears of a Russia-Ukraine invasion, the constant threat of China’s alleged support for Russia, as well as fears of a North Korean nuclear test. The list of talks with South Korean and Japanese officials says a large part of it is China as the country continues to rise. advertising and military power undermines Washington’s dominance.

On Tuesday, Biden is scheduled to meet with other leaders of the Indo-Pacific strategic alliance known as the Quad, a group that includes Australia, India and Japan. The group has the same concerns about China’s increased military capabilities. However, China continues to condemn the dialogue between the four countries, saying its actions contribute to a possible imminent threat in the region.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi harshly criticized Washington and Tokyo’s support for Taiwan during a video call with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

“The thing to watch out for is that the so-called Japan-US joint anti-Chinese rhetoric sparks a stir before the American leader even starts the meeting,” Wang said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry. .

People protest China’s claims over the disputed South China Sea in front of the Chinese embassy in Jakarta on December 8, 2021 Photograph: AFP / Dasril Roszandi

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