Daily Memo: Beijing’s South China Sea Claims, Europe’s Posture Toward Russia

Washington is intensifying its rejection of Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

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Washington rejects Beijing’s claims. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expanded the U.S. condemnation of China’s expansion in the South China Sea, rejecting several Chinese claims in disputed waters beyond what was covered in the 2016 arbitral ruling in The Hague. That ruling invalidated several Chinese claims to reefs near the Philippines in the Spratly Archipelago. Pompeo said the U.S. would also regard as illegal Chinese harassment of fishing fleets or oil exploration in certain areas off the coast of Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam. This is a notable shift for the U.S., which has traditionally just encouraged regional states to work out their myriad disputes either bilaterally or at international arbitration courts. But China, of course, has not been deterred by international rulings like the 2016 decision, and has been steadily increasing its harassment of regional states over their oil exploration and fishing activities. Indeed, over the weekend, Vietnam lost another foreign partner helping it drill for oil off its southeastern coast. The problem for the U.S., however, remains persistent doubts among regional partners about U.S. willingness or capability to go beyond rhetorical defenses of their interests. A U.S. move in May to deploy warships to waters […]

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