04:29 GMT19 September 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must frame a new strategy with the nations of Southeast Asia to block China’s alleged aggression in the region, four Democratic senators wrote in a letter on Tuesday.

    “In a letter to… Pompeo, the senators urge the administration to put China’s expansionist behavior in the South China Sea at the center of its discussions at the upcoming Regional Forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok”, Senator Bob Menendez said in a press release.

    The letter, which was co-signed by Senators Ed Markey, Patrick Leahy and Brian Schatz, urged the Trump administration to do more to deter what it called “further Chinese aggression” in the South China Sea, the release said.

    “This challenge requires a fully articulated and comprehensive strategy and a regional consensus with allies and partners, with ASEAN at the center of those efforts… It is not too late to hold China to account for its behavior, and to deter further Chinese aggression in the maritime domain”, the letter said.

    The majority of islands in the South China Sea are controlled by Beijing, however, the territory is also claimed by several other countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and the Philippines.

    Relations between the United States and China have been strained since last year when Washington imposed tariffs on imports from Beijing.

    China criticized the US move and came up with a set of retaliatory steps that have escalated in a tit-for-tat trade war.


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