The United States seeks to ward off spreading Chinese influence in Asia’s seas by practicing “freedom of navigation” operations – naval and aerial activity in what China believes to be its own territory.
“The South China Sea doesn’t belong to any one nation, and you can be sure: the United States will continue to sail and fly wherever international law allows and our national interests demand,” Pence said on Friday.
Pence, who travelled to Singapore to attend the ASEAN-US summit, told South Asian leaders on Thursday that there was no place for “empire and aggression” in the Indo-Pacific — a noticeable nod towards Beijing’s regional ambitions.
US Vice President Mike Pence earlier this month accused China of “malign” efforts to undermine Trump ahead of the November midterms and reckless military actions in the disputed territories in the South China Sea, charges that China denied.
Trade Representative Denies Claims US Put Upcoming China Tariffs on Hold
The South China Sea is one of the world’s most contested areas, mainly because it handles one-third of the world’s maritime trade and is considered to be rich in natural resources. Beijing’s extensive territorial claims to the sea, which includes islands, banks, reefs, and maritime ways, are challenged by several countries, which have…