David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, cited Chinese “repeated illegal actions and militarisation” in the East Sea while he testified at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. David Stilwell speaks to press on September 17. The committee hearing on Wednesday (local time) was chaired by Republican Senator James Risch and Democratic Senator Bob Menedez. Stilwell said since early July, Chinese vessels have conducted maritime surveys near Vanguard Bank with armed Coast Guard escorts and maritime militia in order to intimidate Viet Nam and other ASEAN states away from developing oil and gas resources in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea). “Through repeated illegal actions and militarisation of disputed features, Beijing has and continues to take action to prevent ASEAN members from accessing over $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves,” he said. Democratic Senator Bob Menedez said China’s aggressive maritime activities in the East Sea and ongoing building of infrastructure could easily be turned to military use. Stilwell also cited Beijing’s use of market-distorting economic inducements and penalties, influencing operations, and intimidation to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda. The top US diplomat for East Asia… Read full this story
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