WASHINGTON – China will likely continue to maintain “uncompromising positions” on territorial disputes with Japan and other neighboring countries under its new leaders, a top U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday.
In a global threat assessment report submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “The leadership transition in Beijing continues to unfold as Chinese leaders grapple with a confluence of domestic problems — including lagging economic indicators, corruption and pressure for political reform — that are fueling fears about the potential for serious domestic unrest.
“The leadership team that is confronting these internal challenges is also likely to maintain uncompromising positions on foreign policy issues, especially those involving maritime and territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas,” he said.
“China sought to expand its control over the relevant territories and obstructed regional efforts to manage the disputes,” Clapper said, adding that Beijing’s behavior appears to be, in part, “a response” to the U.S. strategic rebalance toward Asia-Pacific.
The top intelligence official also noted that the Chinese navy stayed over the horizon in the disputes with Japan and the Philippines while maritime law enforcement vessels were dispatched.
The Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are also claimed by China, which calls the uninhabited islets Diaoyu, and by Taiwan, which refers to them as Tiaoyutai.