The China Problem

Subic, Philippines- June 26, 2014: USS John S. McCain, USS Ashland and USS Safeguard docked at Rivera Wharf for the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT 2014) conducted in the South China Sea between USA and Philippines, amidst the tense territorial rows between China and its neighboring countries.

By Joseph DeTrani, Former Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks with North Korea

Ambassador DeTrani served as the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, ODNI.  He currently serves on the Board of Managers at Sandia National Laboratories.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out China’s claims in the South China Sea this week, saying they are “completely unlawful.”   It was a distinctive public show of US support for a 2016 ruling by The Hague that found China’s actions in the South China Sea were in violation of international law.

Pompeo’s statement is the latest in a coordinated government effort to call China out on a number of issues. Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray made strong public statements about China’s continuing theft of intellectual property and what he calls, “economic espionage.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently announced China as one of the US’ top strategic competitors and shared details on the US military’s renewed focus on Beijing’s activities. Earlier this month, the Pentagon sent two aircraft carriers accompanied by warships, to the South China Sea as China conducted military exercises.

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