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Beijing faces new force in South China Sea as US attacked for ‘creating chaos’ in region

3 min read

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China’s embassy in the Philippines was left furious after US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien reiterated Washington’s support for the country’s claims to the South China Sea. Both President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden have taken a firm stance against Beijing’s claims of “sovereignty” in the disputed ocean. It comes as Indonesia stated it will move its navy headquarters to border the South China Sea in a new effort to counter Beijing’s aggressive maritime presence.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila, the Philippines capital, issued a statement condemning Washington for trying to “create chaos” in the region.

Following Mr O’Brien’s visit to the country yesterday, Beijing called his remarks against China “unreasonable” and accused him of exaggerating tensions in the region.

The embassy said on their website: “We firmly oppose these remarks which are full of Cold War mentality and wantonly incite confrontation.

“It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the US.”

The US official’s visit to the Philippines saw him back both Manila and Vietnam in their struggle against Beijing in the South China Sea.

Mr O’Brien said “we’ve got your back” in maritime disputes against China to the countries, and pledged to support them.

He then repeated the Trump Administration’s support of Taiwan against Beijing’s recent military drills simulating an invasion of the island.

The advisor also visited Manila to announce the arrival of $18 million worth of missiles to combat terrorism and to manage territory disputes, which was agreed by Mr Trump in a phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year.

Mr O’Brien then spoke about the Philippines’ claim to Reed Bank, where the country plans to restart gas and oil exploration despite Chinese opposition.

The advisor said of the dispute: “They belong to the Philippine people.

“They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong.

“Any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.”

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It comes as an Indonesian Navy official announced they will move the headquarters of its combat squad to the Natuna islands, which border the South China Sea.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Yudo Margono said the naval combat force (Guspurla) Command Fleet I, currently deployed in the country’s capital Jakarta, will be permanently transferred to Natuna.

In a press conference, he said: “In anticipation of something that can happen any time, the Commander of the combat force can directly lead a warship with the deployed task force.”

The Natuna Islands hosted several skirmishes between China and Indonesia in the last year, and are believed to contain reserves of oil and gas.

Beijing and Washington’s relations have deteriorated massively in the last year, in part due to maritime actions in the South China Sea.

China furiously levelled sanctions on US companies involved in a $2.37 billion arms deal with Taiwan last month.

Taiwan has been under constant pressure from China, who have carried out aerial drills over the Taiwan Straits and full-scale invasion drills on neighbouring islands.

The US has condemned Beijing for carrying out military drills in the South China Sea, retaliating by sending their own aircraft carriers to the waters to deter Chinese vessels.

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