UPDATED 7:21 AM PT – Sunday, July 18, 2021
The U.S. and China are at odds in discussions over the South China Sea. In a recent statement, the White House rejected most of China’s maritime claims to the South China Sea, upholding the Trump administration’s previous policy.
Additionally, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement affirming a July 2020 policy made by the Trump administration, saying Beijing’s claims to offshore resources in a large portion of the South China Sea were unlawful. He warned China against attacking the neighboring Philippines, as it would draw response from the U.S. under a mutual defense party.
Reports have said China was unhappy with the Trump administration in last year’s announcement. Now with the Biden administration’s latest stance, China has fired back.
“It is extremely irresponsible to deliberately provoke controversy over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, sow discord among China and ASEAN countries, and derail regional peace and stability,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijan. “China firmly opposes the wrong statement made by the United States.”
Five years ago today, the Philippines scored an important victory for the rule of the law in the South China Sea. The United States stands by its allies and partners in defending their maritime rights and standing up for freedom of the seas.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 12, 2021
Lijan refuted the Biden administration’s declaration denouncing China’s claims to the South China Sea. He argued America’s stance would only exacerbate bilateral tensions.
During the Trump administration, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China didn’t offer “coherent legal basis” for its ambitions there, intimidating other countries in the region. In May, Joe Biden took aim at China’s longstanding efforts during a speech, detailing their efforts to dominate the South China Sea.
Biden suggested, “long-standing basic maritime principles like freedom of navigation are a bedrock of global economic and global security. When nations try to game the system or tip the rules in their favor, it throws everything off balance.”
Biden continued on, insisting the U.S. is adamant there are certain areas of the world, such as the South China Sea, that are arteries of trade and shipping, and should remain peaceful. However, experts warned the recent strife may only cause a further rift between the two countries.