New Biden era of confrontation in the South China Sea – Asia Times

All the pieces are falling into place for a new era of US-China confrontation in the South China Sea under the newly inaugurated Joe Biden administration.

On Wednesday, Beijing said its deployment of a squadron of fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace last weekend was meant as a “somber warning” to “external powers”, a thinly veiled threat to the US.

On the same day, the US State Department said in a statement that the US’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines “will apply to armed attacks against Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea.”

China’s recent moves have raised the potential for such armed attacks against rival Southeast Asian claimants in the sea.

On January 22, China’s National People’s Congress approved a new Coast Guard Law, which for the first time legally authorizes Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) forces to fire on foreign vessels in “waters claimed by China” – meaning the South China Sea.  

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