Trump White House vows to stop China taking South China Sea islands

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order on U.S. withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

 

The new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump vowed on Monday the United States would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea, something Chinese state media has warned would require Washington to “wage war.”

The comments at a briefing from White House spokesman Sean Spicer signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China’s assertive pursuit of territorial claims in Asia, just days after Trump took office on Friday.

“The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” Spicer said when asked if Trump agreed with comments by his secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson. On Jan. 11, Tillerson said China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea. Continue reading