South China Sea: BBC expert discusses the 'nine-dash line'

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A senior US official said the US had attempted to send a “clear message of deterrence across the Taiwan Strait”. Kurt Campbell, coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the US national security council, made the remarks on Tuesday as China’s assertiveness intensified.

He said any attempts to take back Taiwan – which Beijing claims as its own territory – would be “catastrophic”.

Mr Campbell told the Asia Society online forum: “One of the reasons why the United States is so clear about our dissatisfaction by what China has undertaken in Hong Kong is a clear sense that, quietly behind the scenes, Chinese interlocutors have studied and tried to make an assessment [that asks] if we can do this, ‘what’s the international response and what does that tell us about what the response would be with respect to Taiwan’.

“I just want to underscore that such an effort would be would be catastrophic.”

He added: “We fully recognise and understand the sensitivities involved here.

“We do believe that Taiwan has a right to live in peace.

“We’ve tried to send a very clear message of deterrence across the Taiwan Strait.”

Earlier this week Taro Aso, Japan’s deputy prime minister, said the US and Japan would need to work together to protect Taiwan in a potential conflict, Kyodo News reported.

The news outlet added that Taro Aso warned a clash over the island nation could be perilous for Japan.

He said: “If a major problem took place in Taiwan, it would not be too much to say that it could relate to a survival-threatening situation (for Japan).

“We are closely monitoring the situation.”

On Tuesday, Zhao Lijan, a spokesperson from China’s foreign ministry, suggested a potential invasion of Taiwan.

He warned “no one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch resolve, firm will, and formidable ability to defend national sovereignty.”

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