South China Sea: Beijing blasts US in spat over ‘near-Arctic nation’ as tensions SOAR

South China Sea: Military exercises ‘must continue’ says expert

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, posted a sharp response to former CIA director Mike Pompeo. The superpowers are at loggerheads over the US position in the eastern region – and have repeatedly condemned the Trump administration’s support for neighbouring nations such as Taiwan.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, an island, but this is rejected by the Taiwanese government along with its ally the US.

Last year saw numerous US military drills in the region countered by exercises by the Chinese navy and vice versa.

Chinese warplanes made at least 380 incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in 2020, according to Shih Shun-wen, a Taiwanese defence ministry spokesman.

Washington has agreed multibillion dollar arms deals with Taiwan and sent officials to the country, aggravating Bejing.

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On Sunday, Mr Pompeo disputed China’s claim it is a “near-Arctic nation”. It describes itself as “an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs” which the US rejects.

In 2018, China declared itself a “near-Arctic state”, despite Beijing being further from the North Pole than Berlin.

This prompted the retort from Global Times editor Hu Xijin about US’s proximity to the South China Sea.

Mr Pompeo said: “I made clear that it is a communist fiction for China to be a ‘near-Arctic nation’ when you are 900 miles from the Arctic.

“This pangolin’s nose under the Arctic tent went on for too long – we did what we do by calling out simple reality.”

Mr Hu responded on Tuesday, writing: “Mr Pompeo, Chinese Foreign Ministry suggests you measure how far continental US is from the South China Sea.”#

The Global Times is a state-run newspaper and mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, also responded at a press briefing on Tuesday.

She said: “Mr Pompeo ignores objective facts, hypes ideology and exaggerates threats to Arctic security, which is inconsistent with the general trend of peaceful cooperation in the Arctic.

“The distance between the continental US and the South China Sea should be some 8,300 miles, and even Hawaii is more than 5,800 miles away.

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“Then on what grounds should the US send military airplanes and vessels to the region to conduct frequent and intensive military drills and close-up reconnaissance?”

The international Arctic Council consists of the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

China is classified as a one of 13 ‘Observer’ states with the likes of the UK, Germany, Spain and India.

US congress has approved a new $740.5bn (£541.9bn) defence spending bill which includes a five year $18.5bn (£13.5bn) ‘Pacific Deterrence Initiative’.

Beijing and Washington have also clashed over trade, the coronavirus and human rights over the last year.

A report by a UK-based think tank has said China will overtake the USA to become the world’s biggest economy by 2028.

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