MANILA – The 11th hour appointment of a group of hardline Donald Trump loyalists to top Pentagon positions has raised the prospect of an escalation of tensions in the South China Sea in the weeks ahead.
Trump’s perfunctory dismissal this week of Defense Secretary Mark Esper has raised concerns in some quarters of a Trump initiated parting blow aimed at China and its expansion in the contested sea in his twilight days in office.
The Pentagon move comes as Trump and his Republican Party allies refuse to concede that Democratic rival Joe Biden won the November 3 election. Trump is expected to file legal challenges to the resounding result against him in the days ahead.
While US rivals such as China may relish post-election mayhem and festering polarization, there are simultaneous worries about Trump’s possible final acts in office.