As ballot nears, Pompeo’s anti-China tirade grows

Jakarta, October 29

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed the Trump administration’s rhetorical onslaught against China in Indonesia on Thursday as the American presidential election looms.

With China a central theme in President Donald Trump’s campaign to win a second term in just five days time, Pompeo took aim at Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea, where it has advanced maritime and territorial claims over the objections of its smaller neighbors, and over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in Jakarta, the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Pompeo praised Indonesia’s leadership in ASEAN for pushing back on what he called China’s “unlawful” claims and lauded Jakarta’s protection of its own territory.

“We respect freedom of the seas, sovereignty and the rule of law,” he said, standing beside Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. Marsudi agreed, saying “international law must be respected,” although she did not specifically mention China.

“Our law-abiding nations reject the unlawful claims by Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea as is clear from Indonesia’s courageous leadership on this subject within ASEAN and at the United Nations,” Pompeo said. “It’s a cause worth pursuing in multilateral settings and the Trump administration very much supports this,” he said. — AP

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