US threats dominate Indo-Pacific summits
Trump’s envoys issue ultimatums to China and other Asian countries
15 November 2018
A series of Indo-Pacific summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea this week has been overshadowed by belligerent accusations and demands issued by the Trump administration’s representatives, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton.
US President Donald Trump is himself boycotting the gatherings, instead sending his envoys to effectively veto any agreements struck by the region’s governments, particularly economic deals with China or settlements over contested territory in the highly-strategic South China Sea.
Pence and Bolton insisted that China had to bow to far-reaching US economic and military demands, or face a new “Cold War.” They said Washington would not tolerate any regional agreements that cut across “US interests” or its escalating military activities. As these threats indicate, a conflict with China would almost certainly involve a military war, not just a “Cold War.”
Pence even used his arrival flight, from Japan to Singapore, to provocatively fly over the South China Sea only 80 kilometres or so from the Spratly Islands, where China has erected defence facilities. He told the Washington Post journalist on his plane that the flight was a “freedom of navigation” mission.
Over the past year, under the misleading banner of “freedom of navigation,” the Trump administration has stepped up naval and air force incursions within territorial zones around Chinese-claimed and occupied islets—confrontational operations that began under the Obama administration.
“We will not be intimidated,” Pence said. “We will not stand down.” When the reporter asked him what would…