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US warns China not to attempt Crimea-style action in Asia
Apr 19, 2014

A senior US official warned that China should not doubt the US commitment to defend its Asian allies and the prospect of economic retaliation should also discourage China from using force to pursue territorial claims in Asia in the way Russia has in Crimea.

US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Daniel Russel, President Barack Obama's diplomatic point man for East Asia, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it was difficult to determine what China's intentions might be, but Russia's annexation of Crimea had heightened concerns among US allies in the region about the possibility of China using force to pursue its claims. The net effect is to put more pressure on China to demonstrate that it remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the problems.

Retaliatory sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and others should have a chilling effect on anyone in China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model. This was especially so given the extent of China's economic interdependence with the United States and its Asia neighbours.

While the United States did not take a position on rival territorial claims in East Asia, China should be in no doubt about Washington's resolve to defend its allies if necessary. The President of the United States and the Obama administration is firmly committed to honouring their defence commitments to our allies.

While Washington stood by its commitments, which include defence treaties with Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. The US is of opinion there was no reason why the rival territorial claims could not be resolved by peaceful means.

The fact that the Philippines had filed a case against China at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague would encourage China to clarify and remove the ambiguity surrounding its own claims. The USA termed the deployment of large numbers of Chinese vessels in its dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea problematic and said that China had taken what to us appears to be intimidating steps.

In Asia, China also has competing territorial claims with Japan and South Korea, as well as with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan in potentially energy-rich waters.

The US President Barack Obama is due to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines from later this month, when he is expected to stress his commitment to a rebalancing of US strategic and economic focus towards the Asia-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

 

 


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