BIDEN WARNS BEIJING OVER ITS EXPANSIONISM
One week into the job, US President Joe Biden has sent a clear warning to Beijing against any expansionist intentions in East and Southeast Asia, Sylvie Lanteaume reported for Agence France-Presse (AFP).
In several calls and statements, he and his top security officials have underscored support for allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, signaling Washington's rejection of China's disputed territorial claims in those areas.
The US also assured India of support and told Australia that the Indo-Pacific must be open and free, and never controlled by a rogue nation.
On Wednesday, Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that his administration is committed to defending Japan, including the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed both by Japan and China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.
That stance was echoed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Saturday that the contested islands were covered by the US-Japan Security Treaty. Austin affirmed that the US "remains opposed to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea," according to a Pentagon statement on the call.
Meanwhile, three days into the Biden administration, State Department spokesman Ned Price warned China about menacing Taiwan after it repeatedly sent more than a dozen military fighters and bombers through the island's air defense zone.
"We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity security and values in the Indo-Pacific region -- and that includes deepening our ties with Democratic Taiwan," Price said in a statement.
"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid." Washington has long sided with allies such as South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia in rejecting disputed Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
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