08:20 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Liaoning, China's only aircraft carrier (File)

    Beijing Not Backing Down: South China Sea War Games the New Normal

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    Foreign interests should expect Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea to become the new normal, according to a recent article in The People’s Daily, a Chinese state-run media outlet.

    Foreign provocations and pressure, according to the news outlet, will not impact what Beijing considers to be basic territory defense drills. "Henceforth, the Chinese military’s exercises far out at sea will become a kind of normal, extremely normal drills," the state-run Global Times op-ed said.

    China has sent its lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in recent months. US President Donald Trump has courted the conversational companionship of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, drawing ire from Beijing for violating its "One China" policy, refusing to acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign state. In response to China’s recent demonstrations of force, Taipei vowed “enhanced training 365 days a year.” Last Monday, the Taiwanese foreign ministry announced that Taipei simulated military mobilization procedures in the event of an attack from China where the Liaoning crossed the dividing line of the Taiwan Strait.

    "Meddling and disruption of countries from outside the region can only run counter to the consensus of common interests that accords with this region and the world," the news outlet stated.  

    Probable future US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued multiple statements during his confirmation hearing before the US Senate that have drawn flak from Beijing. Previous US policies on the South China Sea have allowed Beijing “to keep pushing the envelope” in the disputed region, Tillerson said. The former ExxonMobil executive proposed blockading the South China Sea with the full support of US Navy and Air Force, including aircraft carriers and submarines.

    Construction of the Spratly islands is "illegal," Tillerson opined.

    Tillerson’s confirmation hearings featured poignant criticisms from long-time US Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona. The two Republicans initially appeared skeptical of their support for Tillerson’s nomination but as of Monday said they will give Trump’s pick a shot as Washington’s top diplomat.

    Florida Senator, and former Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio blasted Tillerson’s ties with Russia, as well as a failure to condemn "well documented" human-rights violations, published in the most recent US State Department report, on practices in China, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. After the hearing, Rubio stated that he was "prepared to do what’s right" instead of "analyzing it from a partisan standpoint." On Monday, the Senator posted to Facebook that he will support Tillerson’s nomination since it "would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy."

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    Tags:
    war games, Liaoning, US Senate, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Rex Tillerson, Beijing, South China Sea
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