"While China's actions over the past few years in piecemeal may seem small, as a whole, they depict a fundamental change in China's foreign policy and strategy. It is no longer following the policy of peaceful resolution or taking actions that align with international law, if it ever did in the first place," Republican Party lawmaker Steve Chabot, chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said.
    
"This provocative behaviour, as the Obama administration has called it, unnecessarily raises tensions, threatening the security and stability of the region, targeting key US allies and challenging US presence as a Pacific power," he said during the Congressional hearing on China.
    
China's recent declaration of an air defence zone over disputed islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea, and its new rules to regulate fishing in a huge tranche of the South China Sea, have deepened concerns that its rise as a regional power could spark a confrontation.
    
"We've got to send, as a body, in a bipartisan manner, a strong message to China that these threatening and provocative moves to assert their maritime territorial claims are unacceptable. These steps clearly undermine the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific," Indian-American Ami Bera from Democratic Party said.
    
If China is left unchallenged, its claims over the region will solidify, thus altering the status quo, he said. "The time for a provocative and strategic engagement with our allies is now, before China's next move, like more ADIZ expansions for the South China Sea, or the Yellow Sea," he said.
    
"We've got to do this immediately. China and the other nations in the region must address any outstanding territorial and jurisdictional issues by engaging in diplomatic dialogue, and not through coercion, threats or force," Bera said.
    
Republican leader Randy Forbes said his greatest fear is that China's coercive methods of dealing with territorial disputes could manifest into increased tensions that could ultimately lead to miscalculation.
    
"This heightened use of coercive actions by Chinese naval vessels now spends the East and South China Seas from Japan's Senkaku Islands, the Scarborough Shoals, the Spratly Islands and, indeed, the entire South China Sea," he said.     

Congressman Mike Mcintyre said the Chinese government's recent behaviour regarding maritime and airspace boundaries is of growing concern to US and to its allies in the region.
    
"And it is important for Congress to keep a close watch on this situation," he said.
    
"The alarm bells may finally be ringing, what some of us have been warning about for years," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said.

(Agencies)

Latest News from World News Desk