In the South China Sea, it’s ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’
By: David B. Larter
11 February 2021
WASHINGTON — The new Biden administration has been reversing many of the Trump administration’s policies in areas such as immigration and energy, but when it comes to confronting China’s actions in the South China Sea, at the highest levels of power the song remains the same.
In its opening weeks, the Biden administration has signaled it will continue many of the Trump administration’s hardline policies toward China. And it has not backed off heavy naval presence in the Indo-Pacific region, after a U.S. ship conducted “freedom of navigation operation” (FONOP) earlier this month. Then Feb. 9 the Navy announced that two carriers were operating together in the hotly disputed South China Sea.
The destroyer John S. McCain transited the Taiwan Strait Feb. 4, which China denounced as a provocation, and the following day the McCain performed a FONOP challenging competing claims in the disputed Paracel Islands, a patrol that was accompanied by what experts noted was an extraordinarily detailed explanation.
On Feb. 9, China’s Foreign Ministry slammed the Navy’s two-carrier exercise in the South China Sea, saying it was “not conducive to peace and stability in the region,” and that China would “work together with regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.”