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Trump ramps up South China Sea tensions in HUGE power move ahead of Joe Biden inauguration

South China Sea: Chinese Air Force carries out training

His latest Beijing power move involves targeting China National Offshore Oil Corp which drills in waters close to neighbours Vietnam and the Philippines. Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary, said the oil giant is acting like a “bully” and is intimidating its neighbours, while China has hit back with claims of US bullying and “double standards”.

It is one of several sanctions introduced by the US to suppress China in the final days of President Trump’s term.

Nine Chinese firms were added to a list of companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military, including smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.

A US official said sanctions on CNOOC will not apply to existing joint ventures outside of the South China Sea, nor hydrocarbon exploration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States stands with Southeast Asian claimant states seeking to defend their sovereign rights and interests, consistent with international law.

Donald Trump is into his final hours as president

Donald Trump is into his final hours as president (Image: Getty)

President-elect Joe Biden speaking on January 16

President-elect Joe Biden speaking on January 16 (Image: Getty)

“We will continue to act until we see Beijing cease its coercive behavior in the South China Sea.”

Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson told a Friday briefing: “This measure by the Trump administration, once again, demonstrates to the public, to the international community what is unilateralism, double standards and bullying.”

It follows threats from China on Monday over further sanctions on the US over Taiwan.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing: “Owing to the wrong actions of the United States, China has decided to impose sanctions on responsible U.S. officials who have engaged in nasty behaviour on the Taiwan issue.”

READ MORE: Tory MPs threaten REVOLT on Brexit bill on China ‘genocide amendment'

Chinese president Xi Jinping

Chinese president Xi Jinping (Image: Getty)

Democrat Biden will be sworn in as president on Wednesday - meaning a new State Department will take over.

Analyst Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies thinktank in New Delhi, has spoken about how relations between the US and China may develop.

The superpower rivals have also locked horns over trade, coronavirus and human rights allegations.

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Joe Biden applies a face mask on January 16

Joe Biden applies a face mask on January 16 (Image: Getty)

Writing in the South China Morning Post, he said Beijing will “cautiously welcome” Mr Biden.

Commodore Bhaskar said: “Biden’s approach is likely to be more multilateral and collective than Trump’s policy of going it alone.

“Beijing has cautiously welcomed Biden’s assumption of office, with hopes he will end Trump’s cold-war stance and return to a “sensible approach” in bilateral relations.”

Boats by a fisherman village in the South China Sea

Boats by a fisherman village in the South China Sea (Image: Getty)

US coastguard ship Bertholf sails along South China Sea, off Subic bay prior to a joint search and rescue

US coastguard ship Bertholf sails along South China Sea, off Subic bay prior in 2019 (Image: Getty)

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