We’ll here’s another thing to be worried about.
Asia has never been the most friendly region for America. Outside of Japan and a few smaller nations, the larger players on the continent, Russia, China, and North Korea, have always been contentious with the U.S.
Despite relatively warm relations with Russia and China in recent decades, it doesn’t take much for old wounds to be stirred up.
They were our opponents for generations during the Cold War. Lately we saw some strong words from Russia regarding the U.S.’s involvement in military operations in Europe. Now we’re learning China is getting in on the aggressive rhetoric bandwagon.
China’s attempts to claim a nearly 1.4-million-square-mile swathe of open ocean are without precedent and probably without legal merit, but Beijing continues to assert its right to the economically critical zone — and increasingly puts its claims in military terms.
Speaking to a small group of reporters in Beijing on Thursday, a high-ranking Chinese official made his warning clear: The United States should not provoke China in the South China Sea without expecting retaliation.
“The Chinese people do not want to have war, so we will be opposed to [the] U.S. if it stirs up any conflict,” said Liu Zhenmin, vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Of course, if the Korean War or Vietnam War are replayed, then we will have to defend ourselves.”
The United Nations has already drafted a Law of the Sea that states China’s claims have no legal basis. They have no right to plant their flag on a piece of the ocean.
The fact that they were so quick to drop the “W” word, War, shows they are perhaps saber-rattling, and aren’t really able to defend the region.
The region is incredibly vital to Asian nations as a source of food and shipping to the rest of the world. If China were to control it, they would become the gatekeepers for many nations in the region. This is a problem for the United States, as we also operate out of the area.
China has a growing military presence in the region, including the wholesale raising of islands and construction of airfields on what were once atolls. The U.S. Navy operates there as well, increasingly in concert with regional powers such as the Philippines. Two Chinese fighter jets on Tuesday intercepted and passed within 50 feet of a U.S. military reconnaissance plane.
The South China Sea for years has been a point of contention for bordering nations besides China, including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, but in recent years has become a larger nexus of disagreement as China has unilaterally declared the region its own. China’s fishing fleet, the world’s biggest, operates increasingly within the legally exclusive zones of Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries.
The rest of the world isn’t sitting down over this matter, however. A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will rule on the matter in the coming months. Their decision can determine the fate of the region for decades to come. Yet China has already stated they will not comply with their ruling, which might result in military intervention.
If China continues to encroach on what should be open waters, what else could be the result? The United States and other nations need to protect their interests and prevent China, or anyone else, from exerting and aggressive amount of dominance.
We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.