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EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans warn that China’s ‘rapid expansion and militarization’ in the Indo-Pacific poses a ‘significant threat’ to the United States and its allies around the world, while the Biden administration maintains that she expressed her “clear” concerns about Beijing’s “dark” policies. , unspecified offers” in the region.
Republican Rep. Lance Gooden led fellow Republicans Nancy Mace, Ken Buck, Lisa McClain and Louie Gohmert in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which was obtained by Fox News. He warned that if China was “unchecked”, the United States and its allies “would be unprepared and unable to respond to China’s presence in the region.”
“China’s rapid expansion and militarization in the Indo-Pacific region poses a significant threat to the United States and our allies around the world,” Gooden and his colleagues wrote.
They noted that, in recent years, China “has used coercion and intimidation to demand policy changes, assert illegal maritime claims, and threaten countries that work with the United States or our allies.” “.
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“Beijing reaffirmed its intention to maintain high levels of defense spending to transform the People’s Liberation Army into a powerful force operating in and beyond the Indo-Pacific region,” they wrote. “If nothing is done, the United States and our allies will be unprepared and unable to respond to China’s presence in the region.”
Gooden, for example, pointed to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to several Indo-Pacific countries in recent weeks to “expand China’s military presence in the region” – particularly the Solomon Islands, which recently signed a security agreement with China allowing the PRC to “send Chinese military personnel and warships to use their ports for ‘logistical resupply.'”
“This agreement sets a disturbing precedent and could trigger a destabilizing domino effect throughout the region,” Gooden wrote.
Gooden and the Republicans called on Blinken “to take all necessary steps to strengthen existing relationships and foster new relationships in the strategic Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing influence.”
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Gooden pointed to the US treaty with the Republic of Kiribati, which has been in effect since 1979, and prohibits Kiribati from “making facilities for military purposes available to third parties except with the consent of the United States.”
“Despite this treaty, the PRC has already carried out a military operation under the cover of a space tracking station on the island of South Tarawa in Kiribati,” they wrote. “Due to China’s growing influence in the region, there are concerns that this facility could reopen in direct violation of our agreement with the Republic of Kiribati.”
The Republican lawmakers asked the State Department to review “existing agreements and treaties in the Indo-Pacific region and prepare to use any existing authorities or privileges we may have in the region to counter China.”
They also urged the State Department to “reiterate to our regional partners that agreements with China will undermine our relationship and impact our ability to provide foreign and military assistance in the region.”
“Finally, we request that you enter into negotiations with the Republic of Kiribati regarding the establishment of a military outpost on the island to assist in the logistical resupply of the Pacific Fleet and counter the expansion of the influence of China in the region,” they wrote. They also called for “strategic clarity in making it clear to our allies and the world that the United States will honor our commitments to our allies in the Indo-Pacific region and counter China’s aggression and expansion.”
An aide to Gooden pointed to the Kiribati Treaty and said the United States “could potentially claim sovereign control of Kiribati if it detects attempts by China to establish a base in the region.”
“China’s military expansion threatens to destabilize the Pacific region and poses a significant threat to the United States and our allies,” Gooden told Fox News. “The Biden administration cannot continue its policy of appeasement and must take clear and decisive action to counter China now before escalation or conflict occurs.”
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News on Thursday that the department “appreciates the bicameral, bipartisan support of Congress for deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific.”
“As we’ve said before, we need to match the action to our policies,” the spokesperson told Fox News. “The President urged Congress to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which would authorize more than $3.25 billion in diplomatic and foreign assistance resources for the Indo-Pacific.”
The State Department spokesperson said the Biden administration envisions an “open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific — and we stand ready to work with every nation to achieve it.”
According to the State Department, over the past year, the United States has modernized its alliances, strengthened its partnerships, and forged “innovative ties among itself to address pressing challenges, from competition with the People’s Republic of China to climate change and the pandemic”.
“These accomplishments form the foundation of the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy,” the spokesperson said, adding that the strategy “presents President Biden’s vision to anchor the United States more firmly in the Indo- Pacific and strengthen the region in the process”.
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The Biden administration continues to expand its engagement in the region, the spokesperson said, referring to President Biden’s recent trip to Japan and Blinken’s trip to the Pacific Islands.
“As we have said, each nation will make its own sovereign decisions,” the spokesperson told Fox News. “We, along with our allies and partners, including those in the region, have made our concerns about China’s dark and unspecified deals clear with little regional consultation.”
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The administration welcomes “the PRC’s contributions to regional development, as long as it upholds high standards, including in areas such as transparency, rule of law, sustainable financing and respect for the autonomy of recipients of development aid”.
“However, as the PRC’s involvement in the region has increased, we have seen a series of increasingly problematic behaviors, including its assertion of illegal maritime claims and the ongoing militarization of disputed elements in South China Sea; predatory economic activities, including illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, investments that undermine good governance and promote corruption and human rights abuses,” the President continued. spokesperson.