Just as the US military shooting of China’s civilian balloon violated UN principles against the use of force, any military intervention in a conflict across the Taiwan Strait would make America an aggressor on Chinese soil.
By reclassifying all waters seaward of territorial seas as international waters, the US can claim all the high seas freedoms while avoiding any of the obligations due to coastal states. In this sense, the term allows Washington to maintain the mobility of its warships in the world’s oceans.
The US defence secretary’s tour of Southeast Asia serves to apply pressure on its allies to choose sides. America’s claim of being a reliable partner and stabilising influence in the region should also be questioned in light of its wavering commitment in the past.
The row over Australian findings of war crimes in Afghanistan is part of a long chain of Australia-China disputes. Australia’s allies have understandably taken its side. Such double standards in the West’s approach to China are nothing new.
In response to the US’ new confrontational policy, China must exercise its right to safeguard national sovereignty, adhere to multilateralism and expand the reform and opening up process.
The US is not a signatory to the UN convention on the law of the sea, yet it still judges another country’s ‘excessive maritime claims’ according to its own understanding of the rules.