Mon, 17 May 2021

Beijing [China], April 30 (ANI): The United States has ramped up reconnaissance activities near China's coast under Joe Biden's administration, said the Chinese government after the American president defined the rivalry between the two countries as the battle of the century between democracy and autocracy.

Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said operations had increased by more than 20 per cent for US warships and 40 per cent for planes in and around waters claimed by China, compared with the same period last year under Donald Trump's administration.

During a monthly press conference, Wu termed the increase in American activity as "destabilising" and said it had led to a close encounter in early April when the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin had to be warned away as it conducted a "close-up reconnaissance" of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group.

The encounter followed weeks of tensions between China and the Philippines over the presence of Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef in the Spratly Islands, within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone but claimed by both nations.

Wu said the encounter had "seriously interfered with the Chinese side's training activities and severely threatened the navigation safety and safety of personnel on both sides", adding that the Chinese ships "warned off" the US ships and had lodged complaints with Washington.

The Chinese ministry remarks come hours after Biden delivers his maiden address to the joint session of Congress on the eve of his 100th day in office.

Biden said that Chinese President Xi Jinping was "deadly earnest about [China] becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world".

"We're in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century. We're at a great inflection point in history; we have to do more than just build back ... we have to build back better," he said.

President Biden told China that the US will maintain a "strong" military presence in the Indo-Pacific "not to start conflict, but to prevent one" as Beijing became more assertive in the strategically vital region.

Biden said, "We have acted to restore the people's faith in our democracy to deliver."China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in Indo Pacific with neighbouring countries like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system. (ANI)

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