Friday, July 22, 2016

NSA Susan Rice to Visit Beijing

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice will urge Beijing next week to avoid escalation in the South China Sea when she makes the highest-level U.S. visit to China since an international court rejected its sweeping claims to the strategic waterway.

Rice - in an interview with Reuters – vowed that the U.S. military would continue to “sail and fly and operate” in the South China Sea, despite a Chinese warning that such patrols could end “in disaster.” With less than six months remaining of President Barack Obama's tenure, her July 24-27 trip is aimed at keeping overall ties between the world’s two largest economies. It coincides with visits by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Laos and the Philippines where he is expected to try to reassure Southeast Asian partners of Washington’s commitment. How Washington handles the aftermath of the Hague ruling is widely seen as a test of U.S. credibility in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
The U.S. has been the dominant security presence in the South China Sea since World War Two but is now struggling to contain an increasingly assertive China.

China has responded to the ruling with sharp rhetoric. China has blamed the United States for stirring up trouble. Citing international rules, the United States has conducted freedom-of-navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands where China has been bolstering its military presence. Rice is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during her visit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping