US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to toe the line of incumbent President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in Asia, which stands against perceived Chinese expansionist designs in the region, reports say.
Biden’s nomination of Jake Sullivan for National Security Adviser has reinforced the speculations that his policy on China and Taiwan would tow Trump’s line, the Asia Times reports on Saturday.
Sullivan had called for the intensification of Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) against China in the South China Sea (SCS), marking a potential escalation of Trump’s policy.
“We should be devoting more assets and resources to ensuring and reinforcing, and holding up alongside our partners, the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” said Sullivan.
Richard Javad Heydarian, writing for Asia Times said that Biden’s top advisors are already calling for more China-checking freedom of navigation operations and strategic support for Taiwan.
China’s military activities in the area, including exercises, training, port visits and operations, increased by about 50 per cent to 65 per cent in 2020.
This is a significant increase from 44 in 2019, reported Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC.
China has been flexing its muscles in the region through its provocative drills in disputed SCS waters, according to the report.
Recently, it conducted live-fire exercises with Harbin Z-9 helicopters and advanced anti-ship missiles during simulated war games in Sanya, the southern tip of Hainan island.
China also launched its first domestically-built Shandong aircraft carrier last December and plans to build a new dry dock in Hainan which can dock next-generation Type-003 Supercarrier of China.
The full-on offensive of China in the region has drawn the US’ ire with intensified FONOPs.
The US warships are now passing through the 12 nautical mile radius of Beijing-occupied islands and land features across the South China Sea. The frequency of annual FONOPs has increased.
The US has also made the unprecedented decision to effectively back the maritime claims of China’s rivals in the South China Sea.
Washington has also stepped up its assistance to Taiwan, which is considered by China as a renegade province that must eventually be incorporated with the mainland.
Trump administration cleared up to $5 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan this year and approved 11 arm sale packages to Taiwan, including $280 million Field Information Communications System (FICS).
It also approved the sale of weapons-ready MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and AGM-84H standoff land attack missile expanded response (SLAM-ER) missiles, reported Asia Times.
To counter Chinese expansionist design, the US with other major regional’s powers including Japan, Britain, France and India, has also started conducting FONOPs operations in the region.