Mike Pompeo took a verbal baseball bat to Beijing’s “bullying” tactics in the South China Sea at a virtual meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers chaired by Vietnam.
The US Secretary of State called on member nations to stand up to China’s illegal island-building projects in the hotly-disputed waters, and President Xi Jinping’s rapid militarization of the region.
“[We have to] keep going, don’t just speak up but act,” Pompeo told the 10-country bloc’s top diplomats without elaborating further.
“Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people. You should have confidence and the [United States] will be here in friendship to help you,” he said.
Up to US$3 trillion of trade traverses through this highly-contested maritime superhighway, which China appears determined to dominate by turning sand bars into a chain of PLA naval bases.
“[The United States] is the biggest driver of [the] militarization of the South China Sea [and the] most dangerous factor damaging peace [in the region],” Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said in a video address at the ASEAN summit earlier this week.
Deteriorating diplomatic relations between the world’s two superpowers is threatening to turn into a New Cold War.
Flashpoints include US accusations of spying and data theft by Chinese tech companies such as Huawei and TikTok, the illegal detention of more than one million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang camps, and the human rights crackdown in Hong Kong.
Taiwan has also become a battleground in this geopolitical struggle of political values.
In the past five days, China’s PLA airforce fighter jets have tried to piece the democratic island’s airspace corridor.
“[We] once again urge the Chinese Communist Party not to repeatedly destroy regional peace and stability,” the Taiwan Defence Ministry said in a statement, referring to Beijing’s aim to reunite what the CCP calls a “renegade province” with the mainland.
Force has not been ruled out in Xi’s goal of “national rejuvenation.” Neither has “bullying.”