JAKARTA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday urged China to cease “aggressive actions” in the Indo-Pacific, speaking during a visit to the region, as Washington seeks to bolster alliances against Beijing’s rising might.
In a speech in Indonesia, Blinken said Washington would work with allies and partners to “defend the rules-based order” and countries should have the right to “choose their own path”. “That’s why there is so much concern — from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia and from the Mekong River to the Pacific Islands — about Beijing’s aggressive actions.
“Claiming open seas as their own. Distorting open markets through subsidies to its state-run companies. Denying the exports or revoking deals for countries whose policies it does not agree with.”
“Countries across the region want this behaviour to change — we do too,” he said. He added that Washington was “determined to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea”, and said Beijing’s actions there threaten the movement of more than $3 trillion worth of commerce every year.
China claims almost all of the resource-rich sea, with competing claims from four Southeast Asian states as well as Taiwan.