U.S. Indicates It Will No Longer Ignore Beijing’s Misbehavior

Nominated Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson has said Beijing needs to be given a clear signal that its island-building in the South China Sea needs to stop. (Rex Tillerson image from the Government of the Russian Federation. PLA Navy image from Wikipedia Commons)
Nominated Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson has said Beijing needs to be given a clear signal that its island-building in the South China Sea needs to stop. (Rex Tillerson image from the Government of the Russian Federation. PLA Navy image from Wikipedia Commons)

Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State told a Senate confirmation hearing that the U.S. should discontinue turning a blind eye to acts of misconduct by the Chinese government in the international arena.

Speaking at the hearing on January 11, Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. must instead realistically deal with Beijing.

“We should also acknowledge the realities about China. China’s island-building in the South China Sea is an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms,” Tillerson said in his opening statement about Beijing’s behavior in the contested waters.

Later, during the 9-hour session, Tillerson told senators how he thought the U.S. should deal with Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.

“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” Tillerson said reported The Guardian.

“They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s,” said the 64-year-old.

See this related report below by CNN, which includes Beijing’s response to Tillerson’s statement:

Over the past several years, Beijing has been busy turning atolls and rocky outcrops into maritime outposts, says the Pentagon. Around 3,000 acres of new territory have been built on seven reefs.

In July, Beijing ignored the results of a tribunal with the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that ruled against China’s claims to virtually the entire 1.4-million-square-mile chunk of the South China Sea.

So far this year, Beijing has twice sent a strategic bomber over the disputed waters where some $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes through annually.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have contesting claims in the South China Sea, but what Beijing is doing, and its military buildup, dwarfs all of their efforts combined.

Beijing also has conflicting claims against Japan in the East China Sea.

Other areas of concern

In his opening statement, the former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil also highlighted more areas that are of concern for the incoming Trump administration.

“China’s economic and trade practices have not always followed its commitments to global agreements,” Tillerson pointed out.

“It steals our intellectual property, and is aggressive and expansionist in the digital realm,” he said.

Tillerson also highlighted concerns on China’s role in dealing with North Korea’s rouge regime.

“It has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb North Korea,” he added.

“China has proven a willingness to act with abandon in pursuit of its own goals, which at times has put it in conflict with America’s interests. We have to deal with what we see, not with what we hope.”

For more on Tillerson’s views of China, watch this video below from the Financial Times:

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