China is becoming more and more assertive in the area as the coronavirus crisis eases on the mainland while raging elsewhere on the earth, with a crackdown in Hong Kong and saber-rattling around Taiwan and in the South China Sea.
In a significant move against democracy activists in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, police in the metropolis arrested 15 people on Saturday, simply days after a senior Beijing official called for the local authorities to introduce national security laws as soon as possible.
The arrests drew a strong rebuke from the U.S. and Britain.
China has additionally been flying regular fighter patrols near Chinese-claimed Taiwan, to the island’s anger, and has sent a survey ship flanked by coast guard and other vessels into the South China Sea, prompting the U.S. to accuse Beijing of bullying behavior.
China describes Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea as its most sensitive territorial matters.
The most dramatic actions have been near Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own. Beijing has been ired by moves by President Tsai Ing-wen through the pandemic to assert the island’s separate identity from China.
In the newest uptick in spats, China’s navy this month sailed a battle group, led by the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, around Taiwan’s east coast and has mounted regular air force drills near the island.