During Tuesday night’s Republican “undercard” debate on Fox Business, Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) said he’d fly Air Force One over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Tensions over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea have been boiling for months.
The US sent a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands last month, and China has ramped up threatening rhetoric over what it called “rampant US violations of China’s adjacent waters and the skies over those expanding islands.”
In response to a question about China hacking and spying on the US, Christie brought up the disputed islands that China is turning into military bases.
“I’ll fly Air Force One over those islands,” Christie said. “They will know we mean business.”
Christie also called US President Barack Obama’s and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy “feckless” and “weak.”
The US and Chinese navies held talks in late October and agreed to stick to established protocols to avoid clashes in the South China Sea. An editorial in a Chinese Communist Party tabloid earlier that month said that a violation of China’s airspace and waters would be a “breach of China’s bottom line.”
Reaction to Christie’s statement was mixed:
Chris Christie’s promise to fly Air Force One over the South China Sea belongs in the Foreign Policy Bloviation Hall of Fame.
— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) November 11, 2015
Gov. Christie says he’d fly Air Force One over the South China Sea. I’d love to sit in on the CIA meetings ahead of something like that.
— Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta) November 11, 2015
Christie: I’ll fly Air Force One over disputed S China Sea territories. And get really mad when I see those islands China is building.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) November 11, 2015
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