South China Sea tension: Beijing’s threat over ‘meddling US’ as conflict fears erupt

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The US has been hugely critical of Beijing, over its handling of Tibet, Hong Kong and nations attempting to fish and prosper throughout the South China Sea. Beijing claims sovereignty over the waters, a claim that is rejected by China’s neighbouring countries, as well as global powerhouse the US. But in a cutting attempt to threaten Washington, China demanded that the US backs away from its domestic rows, as it attempts to maintain its authority in the lucrative waters.

The new row between the nations emerged after Washington sparked fresh tension with their rivals by passing the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA).

The TPSA is an unprecedented piece of legislation, that calls for the opening of a US consulate in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, while backing claims for the Dalai Lama to determine his successor.

Reports says decisions “should be made by the appropriate religious authorities within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition”.

It claimed that China’s “interference” in the determination of succession, was a “clear violation of the fundamental religious freedoms for Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people”.

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China has previously made clear it intends to “anoint its own successor in Tibet”, rejecting the Dalai Lama’s backing of Gedhun Choekyi Nima.

Beijing responded to the legislation by saying it “resolutely opposes” the bill which “contains such ill contents on China”.

Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: “Issues related to Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong concern China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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“They are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference.”

He detailed how China was “determined to safeguard its national sovereignty”, adding: “We urge the US to stop meddling in our domestic affairs under those pretexts, refrain from signing the bills or implementing the negative contents and items in them that target China and undercut China’s interests, so as to avoid further damaging overall China-US cooperation and bilateral relations.”

The bill was described by leader Lobsang Sangay, who heads Tibet’s government-in-exile, as a “momentous landmark for the Tibetan people” and claimed “by passing the TPSA, Congress has sent its message loud and clear that Tibet remains a priority for the US”.

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In addition to the bill, US President Donald Trump’s administration added 58 Chinese firms to a list of businesses that have military links in China, leading them to have their visas restricted.

According to The Hindu, Mr Wang added: “The US has been abusing state power and national security concept to suppress and contain certain foreign companies by applying measures such as export control.”

He also said that Washington was “weaponising its visa policy to impose various visa sanctions on Chinese individuals citing so-called issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, religion and human rights”.

Fears of conflict between the nations has continued, with major players in the waters ramping up their military presence.

Experts such as Professor Oriana Skylar Mastro, from Georgetown University, are concerned that the heightened military power in the region will one day lead to accidental conflict.

She told the Council of Foreign Relations this year: “I think there are some factors that show if China cannot achieve its goals, de facto control of the South China waters, it could escalate.

“The US could act more assertively, leading to aggression on the part of China.

“It’s possible that China will come to the conclusion that the diplomatic way of dealing with the situation isn’t working.

“Couple that with new power projection capabilities, military power for the first time… lastly, you could see China taking military action, such as seizing islands of kinetic action against US vessels in the South China Sea waters.”

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