US VICE-PRESIDENT Mike Pence will warn the United States will not back down against China’s intimidatory tactics in the South China Sea as relations hit breaking point.

Tensions between the two superpowers are high, with Donald Trump launching billion-dollar tariffs and sanctions against China, sparking a trade war.

And Mr Pence will raise pressures higher with his speech after a recent near-miss between US destroyer the USS Decatur and Chinese vessel close to the disputed Gaven and Johnson Reegs in the Spratly Islands.

But the US Pacific Fleet has proposed multiple exercises for November with US warships and aircraft to demonstrate its military capabilities in the disputed waters.

In a speech, Mr Pence describes the close shave, which occurred when a Chinese vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur, as “reckless harassment”.

Mr Pence will say: “Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand.

“We will not be intimidated. We will not stand down.”

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

China’s Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave.

China’s Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave.

Beijing had sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the surrounding waters, the Chinese authorities claim.

In his speech, Mr Pence is also set to voice fears China is trying to exploit differences of policy between US state and local governments.

He will say: “As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” Pence will say.

Pence also accused the Chinese Communist Party of convincing three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taiwan and recognise China.

He added: ”These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait – and the United States of America condemns them.

“And while our administration will continue to respect our One China Policy, as reflected in the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, let me also say that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”



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