The incoming U.S. administration’s tough talk against China has set the stage for showdowns on everything from security to trade and cyberspace, but contradictory signals are sowing uncertainty over how far President-elect Donald Trump is prepared to go in confronting Beijing.
Highlighting the contested South China Sea as a potential flashpoint, Trump’s Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson threw out an explosive challenge to Beijing on Wednesday by calling for it be denied access to artificial islands it is building in the strategic waterway.
A Trump transition adviser told Reuters that Tillerson, Trump’s pick to be America’s top diplomat, did not mean to suggest the new administration would impose a naval blockade, which would risk armed confrontation with China, something the new administration was not seeking.
But another official authorized to speak on behalf of the transition team pushed back on that view, saying Tillerson “did not misspeak” when he said China should be barred from its man-made islands.
Read the whole story from Reuters.