At a summit this weekend, Japan denounced activity that “runs counter to the rule of law and openness” in troubled waters – although it did not explicitly name China. However, the two nations have long had a fiercely contested territory known as the Senkaku Islands.
The leaders spoke about the South China Sea amid speculation about US policy towards the region under presumed future President Joe Biden.
China, meanwhile, has decided to consolidate its ties with members of associations of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
This is despite tensions with ASEAN members such as the Philippines and Vietnam over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost all waters, backed up by military exercises and the construction of man-made islands.
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Analysts are quick to predict what Mr. Biden’s presidency will mean for the United States’ relations with China, and for tensions in the South China Sea and with Taiwan in particular.
The small island nation has forged key ties to the United States with Mr. Trump as leader.
Under his administration, senior US officials traveled to Taiwan for diplomatic talks, while US arms sales to Taiwan escalated.
These friendly ties drew furious reactions from Beijing. Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that US arms sales to Taiwan are “brutally interfering with China’s internal affairs.”
He urged the United States to cancel the sales “in order to avoid further damage to Sino-US relations and to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
China sees Taiwan as part of its own territory, although this is disputed within Taiwan itself.
Now analysts say Taiwan hopes to continue its close relationship with the United States under the leadership of future President Biden.
Taiwan’s representative in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, spoke with US Ambassador Antony Blinken last week to discuss the matter.
She said on Twitter: “spoke to Biden’s political adviser Antony Blinken to convey Taiwan’s congratulations to the president-elect.
“We have appreciated the bipartisan support for U.S. relations with Taiwan and look forward to continuing close cooperation with the United States in the years to come.”