VIA| The US government has apparently decided to risk both of its arms, the first by bear mauling and the second via fiery dragon’s breath as it has decided to poke BOTH Russia and China at the same time.
With a year-long campaign of bombing/supplying ISIS on one side and the decision to send in the navy to bump into islands that China is in the midst of reclaiming on the other, the US govt might just be biting off more than it can chew- or more accurately, it seems to be hoping that it would cause Russia and China a severe bout of diarrhea.
The region surrounding the Spratly Islands (or Spat-ly Islands, hehe) have been a hotbed for controversy, with the US and its allies in the region refusing to recognize China’s claims.
This comes a month after Obama had a pleasant conversation with Xi Jinping, apparently about the disputed area:
“I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarization of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully,” Obama said.
“I indicated that the United States will continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere that international law allows,” Obama added.
“Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China’s territory,” Xi resolutely stated.
Clearly the talks weren’t very effective, as the US has decided that a show of military force would solve their problems. As usual. Forget speaking softly and carrying a big stick; speak loudly and wave the good ole stick around several times for good measure seems to be the go-to response… sans actual bombing, at this point anyway.
Though Chinese officials have claimed that the reclamation of the islands served civilian purposes, it is likely that China hopes to extend its military’s reach in the only unclaimed/disputed area bordering its coast, and to do that they have built:
port facilities, military buildings and an airstrip on the islands, and recent imagery shows evidence of two more airstrips under construction. The installations bolster China’s foothold in the Spratly Islands, a disputed scattering of reefs and islands in the South China Sea more than 500 miles from the Chinese mainland.
Although the islands are as yet still too small to support large naval/ air force units, they allow the Chinese to embed a persistent force with which to monitor… and even defend the area until support arrives from the mainland.
Admiral Scott Swift has declared that China is not following international law:
“It’s my sense that some nations view freedom of the seas as up for grabs, as something that can be taken down and redefined by domestic law or by reinterpreting international law,” Swift said, according to a report by Reuters.
“Some nations continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters.”
Other sources seem to indicate that the US is keen on showing China who is top dog in the area:
“I think it’s clear that there is not a good set of options for convincing, or even compelling, China not to dredge and build artificial islands in the South China Sea,” said Scott Harold, deputy director at Rand Corp.’s Center for Asia Pacific Policy.
But operating ships and aircraft near the artificial outposts would underline Washington’s stance that it does not recognize China’s legal claims or its aggressive methods of asserting them, Harold said.