By sending its warship within 12 nautical miles of China’s isles in the South China Sea, the United States is raising tensions in the waters and sending a dangerous signal to the region.
On Tuesday, the US warship USS Lassen illegally entered waters near Zhubi Reef, part of China’s Nansha Islands, without the permission of the Chinese government. Such a blatant provocation was naturally met with strong condemnation from China, which deems the US move as a threat to China’s sovereignty and security interests.
To justify this reckless move, high-ranking US officials have been raising their voices recently accusing China of militarizing the South China Sea and claiming the US operation is to exert “freedom of navigation” in the waters.
These are just pretexts the US is using to mislead the public and confuse right with wrong.
China has repeatedly said it has no intention of militarizing the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. All its deployments at the islands and reefs are necessary, limited and defense-oriented. As a nation that relies heavily on the sea lanes in the waters, militarization would threaten, instead of serving, its interests in the region.
As to freedom of navigation and overflights in the waters, they have never been a real issue of concern. China has reiterated many times that its reclamation work is primarily for civilian purposes and does not in any way hamper freedom of navigation.
Yet, these words have apparently fallen on deaf ears. By challenging a threat that does not exist, the US move is creating a bigger and more real threat itself. By flexing its muscle on China’s doorstep, the US is using coercion to challenge China’s legitimate territorial claims.
The US warship displays exactly who is the real hand pushing the militarization of the South China Sea.
The US’ so-called freedom of navigation operations also go against its own public statements that it takes no stand over the territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The US calls itself a Pacific country and claims it too has a stake in peace and stability in the region. If that is the case it should be playing a more constructive role in the waters, rather than stirring the waters at the risk of regional peace and stability.
If the US still deems itself a responsible power, it should refrain from making further provocations. – China Daily
China warns US over incursion
Experts said the announcement represented a warning from China, but that the nation is not willing to see an escalation into military conflict. Experts called for both parties to resort to legal and diplomatic approaches.
According to a Reuters report on Tuesday, one US defense official said the destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhubi Reef.
A second defense official said the mission, which lasted a few hours, included Meiji Reef.
Earlier this year, China revealed that it was building civil and military facilities over both reefs, which are part of its Nansha Islands.
The operation was approved by US President Barack Obama, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing an anonymous official as saying that the mission was “routine.”
The US warship was monitored, tracked and issued a warning, said Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday
A guided-missile destroyer and a patrol boat gave warnings to the US warship, Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said on Tuesday.
He said the reoccurrence of similar incidents should be prevented in the future.
China will continue to watch the situation and “do whatever is necessary,” Lu said during a regular press briefing in Beijing.
Stressing that China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters is “irrefutable,” Lu said China is prepared to respond to any deliberate provocation by any country and urged the US to “immediately correct its wrongdoing.”
Lu said that China is firmly opposed to any action that harms China’s sovereignty and security in the name of freedom of navigation.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui also summoned US Ambassador Max Baucus on Tuesday to protest against the US naval patrol, calling it “extremely irresponsible.”
The dispatch of the US warship was predictable since the US had reiterated the plan several times, Zhu Feng, a professor of international security at Nanjing University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. He said the US had to follow through with its action to maintain credibility with its allies.
The US will take such measures against any country that is considered by the US as curtailing its freedom of navigation, in a bid to show that it aims at defending the right, an expert at the Academy of Military Science, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times.
A US defense official told Reuters that “It’s not something that’s unique to China.”
US warships have defended this right against almost all coastal countries, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Tuesday, citing the passage of US warships from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea during the Cold War as an example.
Given the current situation, the US is unlikely to let go if its demands are not met, said the research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute.
The second US defense official said additional patrols would follow in coming weeks and could be conducted around features that Vietnam and the Philippines have built up in the Nansha Islands, according to Reuters.
“The US move is more of a probe of China’s reaction rather than a showdown,” Zhu said, adding that China needs to have a well-considered plan in response, such as getting ready to monitor US warships or planes, or driving them off when necessary.
But China should move carefully to avoid military conflict, he said.
The expert at the Academy of Military Science said the passage of the USS Lassen is the least serious move available to the US, compared with other options like conducting military drills and joint passage of Japanese and Philippine warships.
China also made a minimal response, he said.
Unlike the intense relationship between the US and former Soviet Union, the US is also worried that radical military actions would harm Sino-US cooperation, the research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute added.
The research fellow suggested setting up a “security alert zone” by China in the controversial waters in order to prevent further conflicts.
China and the US in September signed two documents on “notification of military crisis” and “encounters in the air” in a bid to avoid military conflicts caused by miscalculation over the seas, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
It has to be noticed that China has already carried out construction work in the area. This is the concrete achievements Beijing has gained. Completing building the islands still remains as a major task for China in the future. At present, no country, the US included, is able to obstruct Beijing’s island reclamation in the region.
In face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst. This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.
Beijing ought to carry out anti-harassment operations. We should first track the US warships. If they, instead of passing by, stop for further actions, it is necessary for us to launch electronic interventions, and even send out warships, lock them by fire-control radar and fly over the US vessels.
Chinese should be aware that the US harassment is only a common challenge in China’s rise. We should regard it with calm and be confident of our government and troops. It is certain that the Chinese government, ordering the land reclamation, is able and determined to safeguard the islands. China is gradually recovering its justified rights in the South China Sea. China has not emphasized the “12 nautical miles.” It is the US that helps us to build and reinforce this concept. Then, it is fine for us to accept the “12 nautical miles” and we have no intention to accept 13 or more than 13 nautical miles.
By Chen Heying Source:Global Times