World

Biden sends clear warning to China over expansionism

US President and top security officials also reiterate support for Asian allies, including Taiwan

WASHINGTON One week into the job, US President Joe Biden has sent a clear warning to China against any expansionist intentions in East and South-east Asia.

In multiple calls and statements, he and his top security officials have underscored support for Asian allies, signalling Washington's rejection of China's disputed territorial claims in those areas.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US rejects China's maritime claims in the South China Sea beyond what it is permitted under international law and stands with South-east Asian countries resisting its pressure.

"Secretary Blinken pledged to stand with South-east Asian claimants in the face of PRC pressure," it said, referring to the People's Republic of China.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price warned China about menacing Taiwan after it repeatedly sent more than a dozen military fighters and bombers through the island's air defence zone.

"We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity security and values in the Indo-Pacific region - and that includes deepening our ties with Democratic Taiwan," Mr Price said in a statement.

"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid."

Those comments and others sought to emphasise that the Biden administration will not deviate from the firm security stance towards China that it inherited from former president Donald Trump.

Mr Biden's administration also signalled a fresh look at US policy in the Middle East, announcing reviews of massive arms packages for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as well as envisioning a slow return to diplomacy with Iran.

The State Department said it was temporarily pausing sales authorised by Mr Trump including munitions to Saudi Arabia and a US$23 billion (S$31 billion) package of cutting-edge F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates.

Separately, Mr Biden has a higher approval rating after one week in office than Mr Trump did in his entire presidency, a new poll found on Wednesday.

A Monmouth University poll showed 54 per cent of Americans approving of Mr Biden's performance and 30 per cent disapproving.

Mr Trump spent most of his presidency with ratings in the low 40s and left office on Jan 20 with a Gallup poll approval of just 34 per cent, a record low. - REUTERS, AFP

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