Trump CONFRONTS China: Beijing bigger threat than North Korea claims US Admiral


US WARSHIPS entered the disputed South China Sea last week in a direct challenge to the Chinese state, which a US Admiral has claimed is a bigger threat to the region than North Korea.

The visit, which took place last Monday, was made by guided missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble. American warships have been conducting so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols through the South China Sea in defiance of Beijing. Admiral Phil Davidson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that China is seeking to dominate the region adding the country is “our greatest long-term strategic threat” rather than North Korea.

He commented: “Through fear and coercion, Beijing is working to expand its form of ideology in order to bend, break and replace the existing rules-based international order.

“In its place, Beijing seeks to create a new order, one with Chinese characteristics, led by China, an outcome that displaces the stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific that has endured for over 70 years.”

China’s territorial claims in the region overlap with those of Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

The South China Sea is one of the worlds busiest shipping routes, and is believed to hold large oil and gas reserves.

Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US 7th Fleet, said Monday’s ‘freedom of navigation’ patrol was conducted to “challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law”.

He added: “All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.

“That is true in the South China Sea, as in other places around the globe.”

Last week UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s only operational aircraft carrier, will visit the region as part of its first operational voyage.

Following the announcement, which angered Beijing, a planned visit to China by Chancellor Philip Hammond was cancelled.

The announcement was criticised by former Chancellor George Osborne who described it as “gunboat diplomacy of a quite old-fashioned kind”.

During last week’s Munich Security Conference Yang Jiechi, a top Chinese foreign policy advisor said the country is “resolute in defending its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests”.

He added: “We firmly oppose any activity that undermines China’s sovereign and security interests under the pretext of freedom of navigation.”