There may be a new president in Washington DC, but it appears that the Biden Administration will continue with freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea.
On Jan. 24 (Singapore time), Reuters reported that a U.S. Navy group, led by the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, entered the South China Sea to promote "freedom of the seas."
This came just days after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president.
Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander of the group, said:
"With two-thirds of the world’s trade travelling through this very important region, it is vital that we maintain our presence and continue to promote the rules-based order which has allowed us all to prosper."
He added that it was "great" to be in the South China Sea to conduct routine operations, promote freedom of the seas and reassuring America's partners and allies.
Taiwan and China
The group entered the South China Sea reportedly on the same day as an incursion into Taiwan's air defence identification zone by Chinese military planes.
According to ABC Australia, the self-ruled island deployed air defence missile systems to "monitor" the incursion of eight nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and four J-16 fighter jets.
It commented that the number of planes was "unusual" as previous incursions have generally involved one or two reconnaissance planes.
U.S. State Department
The U.S. State Department released a statement on Jan. 23, titled "PRC Military Pressure Against Taiwan Threatens Regional Peace and Stability", saying it notes with concern the pattern of ongoing "PRC attempts to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan."
It urged China to engage in "meaningful dialogue" with Taiwan, cease pressure against it and stressed that the U.S. would deepen its ties with Taiwan.
Biden's nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he had no doubt that China posed the most significant challenge for the United States of any nation.
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Top image from USS Theodore Roosevelt's Facebook page.