US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday claimed that China’s actions in the South China Sea would bring countries in the region together in new ways and the US will continue to beef up its engagement in the Asia-Pacific at the increasing demands of those nations. “There should be no mistake in this, the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” Carter said.
Freedom of flight over and navigation in the South China Sea in no way means that US military planes and vessels can bluntly defy the legal construction activities of China. Based on international law, China will resist any sabotage of its island construction within its own sovereignty and will carry the activities through to the end.
Washington is taking dangerous gamble in the South China Sea. With aggressive US interference, there has been much speculation about the possibility of a US-China military clash in the region. Washington hopes this will convert into pressure on China. It may not expect a compromise from China over island construction, but hopes China would be psychologically burdened in its maritime development.
Is the China-US relationship approaching a tipping point? Some Chinese scholars hold that the US is merely flying a kite. It’s testing China’s determination and strategy to counterstrike US provocation. It’s probable that the US military and diplomatic circles haven’t yet reached a consensus. Washington will make the decision after assessing China’s reaction.
Nonetheless, Washington has taken a step in displaying its hard-line stance toward China. Some Americans are highly vigilant of China’s newly released military strategy white paper, but they can’t be unrestrained in showing their anxiety. How could China, the world second-largest economy, neglect maritime security?
China has made it clear that relevant facilities under construction will be used for peaceful regional development and cooperation. The US suspects the sites may be turned into military outposts to confront US maritime hegemony. But those reefs and islets are China’s own territory. Blocking China’s legitimate actions out of imaginary worries and suspicions is a blunt violation of the norms of international relations and diplomatic principles.
At a time when China is having strong momentum of development and seeking external cooperation for implementing the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, it’s unnecessary for China to divert attention by building military outposts.
The dangerous provocation of the US, driven by their illusion of the worst-case scenario, is unwise and reckless. It is pressing Beijing to act in compliance with Washington’s desire. However, China won’t dance to the rhythm of the US.
US tarnishing China’s image to scare ASEAN
The 14th Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, opened Friday in Singapore. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s deputy chief of staff Sun Jianguo will both give speeches there. The South China Sea issue is expected to be the focus point of this annual meeting.
Before Carter arrived in Singapore, he made strong remarks about China, claiming that China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea will push countries in this region to join hands with the US. It is becoming an increasingly prominent theme for the US in its efforts to drive a wedge into the cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries.
It is true that territory disputes exist in the South China Sea. But the region has the capability to digest the disputes gradually. The blunt interference by the US is worsening the South China Sea disputes. The risk of friction between China and the US over the sea is rising.
China is ASEAN’s largest trade partner, while ASEAN is China’s third largest trade partner. Cooperation between China and ASEAN is the foundation of regional prosperity. The US is losing in the competition for economic cooperation in this region. It is desperately trying to find a way to fill in this gap.
Regional countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam need outside powers to balance a regional power. The US has been taking advantage of their interests in this regard.
Now China is painted as a pursuer of regional hegemony, and the monitoring of China’s attempts to artificially expand islets in the South China Sea have become landmark moves to put a hold on China’s supposed hegemonic efforts.
This is a situation that Washington is pleased to see. But China and ASEAN countries will have to pay the prices for the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific.
Some are worried that China may use the expanded islets as outposts for military aggression against neighboring countries. But such confrontations are not in China’s interest. China’s latest “One Belt, One Road” initiative promotes developing trade with countries, including those along the “maritime silk road.”
The biggest challenge for China is to find a difficult and subtle balance between its own national interests and regional peace. Some countries wish China to sacrifice its own interests for regional peace. This is unrealistic.
We emphasize an Asia of the Asians, because we believe only Asians really care about Asia’s peace and stability, and still remembers the pains of past turmoil. The US will not take responsibility for Asia’s prosperity, let alone sacrifice itself for Asian countries. ASEAN countries must be clear about this
Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-29 & 30 Posted in: Editorial
claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived SOLELY
from legitimate claims to land features.” Translation: Why China has
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Keynote Address at Shangri-La Dialogue 2015