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GOP senator says China uses coronavirus pandemic to gain power in Asia

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Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Accused China Sunday to use the Coronavirus pandemic as a cover to take power in disputed regions along its borders.

Referring to recent actions that Beijing has taken in the South China Sea and the Himalayas along its border with India, Cotton said that with the world’s attention focused on the global public crisis, China was busy making territorial takes.

“The Chinese Communist Party is certainly using the pandemic to try to assert its demands and take very aggressive measures against almost all of its neighbors,” Cotton said on “Sunday Morning Futures”. “China has basically invaded India, one of our allies, and they have killed 20 Indian soldiers.”

He added, “Mainland China is in the South China Sea. They have taken aggressive measures against our partners, countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam. They have invaded airspace several times in recent weeks in Taiwan. And last week, they took aggressive action against Japan, the East China Sea. “

CHINA LAUNCHES 10 DAYS OF INDIAN SOLDIERS AFTER A CHANGE IN DEADLY BORDER

Satellite images released this week by Maxar, a Colorado-based satellite imagery company, show new construction activity along the Galwan River valley along the border between China and India, although the diplomats from the two countries said the military commanders had agreed to disengage from an impasse there. .

The images seemed to show that the Indians had built a wall on their side and that the Chinese had enlarged an outpost camp at the end of a long road connected to the Chinese military bases further from the ill-defined border, according to the experts .

The contradictions in words and deeds have shown the fragility of an agreement after the worst violence since the Asian giants went to war in 1962 for their competing claims on the arid border region, experts said.

China said India first changed the status quo last August when it divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two federal territories – the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the territory Ladakh, parts of which are disputed by China.

Indian authorities have said that the deadlock that culminated in this month’s deadly clash in the Galwan Valley, which is part of a stretch of the actual control line 3380 kilometers (2100 miles) apart, established after the 1962 war, began in early May. when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three locations in Ladakh, erecting tents.

After some skirmishes in May, Indian and Chinese commanders met on June 6 to reach an agreement that would reduce tensions.

The two sides agreed to build observation posts on either side of the mouth of the Galwan River, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong told the Press Trust of India news agency on Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, in the South China Sea, China has taken increasingly aggressive measures in recent years to strengthen its claims on strategic waters, which it vaguely marks with a so-called nine-dash line straddling the waters. coastal and land claims of an ASEAN member. Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei states. Taiwan has also staked a claim in large areas of the disputed waters.

In July 2016, an international arbitration tribunal struck down China’s vast historic claims over UNCLOS-based waters. China refused to participate in the case and dismissed the decision as a sham.

In recent years, China has transformed seven contested reefs into missile-protected island bases, three of which have military-grade tracks, and continues to develop them in actions that have sparked protests and alarmed rival claimant states, as well as the United States and its Asian countries. and Western allies.

In recent months, China has been criticized for what its rivals claim to be aggressive actions in disputed waters as countries fight to fight the coronavirus.

Vietnam demonstrated in April after a Chinese Coast Guard vessel crashed and sank a boat with eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. The Philippines supported Vietnam and protested against the new territorial districts announced by China in large areas of the sea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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