It is the US that is militarizing the South China Sea
The U.S. has recently been hyping the idea that China is militarizing the South China Sea. It first criticized China for deploying missiles in Yongxing Island, then claimed in a report that China is building a radar system on islands or reefs in the Nansha Islands.
However, plenty of evidence suggests that it is the U.S. rather than China who is actually militarizing the South China Sea.
First, the U.S. is clearly “a thief calling on others to catch a thief” when accusing China of escalating militarization in the South China Sea.
It is the U.S. that has been enhancing military deployment in neighboring regions of the South China Sea.
The U.S. not only acquired access to eight military bases in the Philippines, the superpower has also continued increasing its military presence in Singapore and sent warships and aircraft to the South China Sea.
What’s more, it has repeatedly pressured its allies and partners to conduct targeted military drills and patrols to play up regional tension.
Besides selling weaponry to the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, the U.S. also repeatedly sent missile destroyers, strategic bombers and anti-submarine patrol aircraft to approach or even enter relevant reefs and islands, as well as the adjacent waters and air space of China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands. Such acts betray ambition to provoke China.
Secondly, the U.S. obviously has a guilty conscience when criticizing China for deploying national defense.
As islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been an indisputable part of China's territory since ancient times, China is entitled to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
By deploying necessary defense for its own territory, China is exercising the right of self-preservation granted by international law to sovereign states. This has nothing to do with militarization and is completely legitimate.
China’s defense is not fundamentally different from the defense installation by the U.S. in Hawaii. If other countries have zero intention to threaten China’s sovereignty and security, they needn’t worry about defensive measures.
Thirdly, the U.S. revealed its double standard when criticizing China’s construction on the Nansha Islands. Such construction falls completely within China’s sovereignty. The light houses built by China on its stationed islands and reefs, as well as the facilities for meteorological observation, emergency shelter and rescue, are public services and goods offered by China to the international community as the largest coastal state in the South China Sea.
They are by no means military facilities, but the U.S. has continued picking on China nonetheless.
In contrast, the U.S. turns a blind eye to military actions taken by the Philippines and Vietnam on the Nansha Islands, which they illegally occupy.
Lastly, so-called “safeguarding navigation freedom” is just a cover-up for the U.S. to destroy peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The U.S. military has been carrying out “navigation freedom” activities for a long time. Such activities, in essence, are challenges to other countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction in their own waters and exclusive economic zones. The U.S. carries out these activities just to maintain its own maritime supremacy.
The freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea, to which all countries are entitled under international law, has never been threatened. Over 100,000 vessels from various countries pass through the region every year without a hitch.
However, the “navigation freedom” actions conducted by the U.S. destroy peace and tranquility in the South China Sea and escalate regional tensions.
Not only won’t this selfish and overbearing act help to peacefully resolve the South China Sea issue, it will further disrupt regional peace and stability.
The U.S. must realize that as a party not concerned in the South China Sea issue, it should respect the efforts of China and concerned nations to peacefully handle their own disputes and safeguard the stability of the region.
If the U.S. intends to make sincere contributions, the best way is to stop stirring up tensions through risky military actions in the South China Sea.
- By Zhang Junshe - The author is a research fellow of China's Naval Research Institute
China said on Friday that it does not intend to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea and criticized U.S. air and naval patrols in the region.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, adding "China is serious about its commitment not to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands."
Hong made the remarks after U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said commercial satellite imagery suggested "very recent" placement of missiles on Yongxing Island that goes against China's pledge not to militarize the South China Sea.
"We see no indication that ... this militarization effort, has stopped. And it's doing nothing ... to make the situation there more stable and more secure," Kirby said at a regular news briefing on Thursday.
Hong said that demilitarization in the region is not a matter for just a single country. "There should not be double standards or multi-standards for demilitarization in the South China Sea, and the process requires joint efforts from countries in the region and beyond."
He said the United States is strengthening military deployment in the South China Sea and frequently sends military vessels or planes to waters in the South China Sea to conduct close-in reconnaissance against China.
He also accused the United States of sending missile destroyer and strategic bombers into waters and airspace adjacent to the Nansha Islands and had its allies hold targeted joint military exercises or joint cruises in the region.
The U.S. actions have escalated tensions in the South China Sea and constitute the militarization of the South China Sea, said Hong.
Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha Islands group in the South China Sea, is an inherent part of China's territory, he said.
In 1959, the Chinese government set up an administrative office and the ensuing government facilities on the Yongxing Island.
The deployment of defense facilities on Yongxing Island amounts to China exercising its sovereignty and it has been going on for decades, he said, urging the U.S. side to learn the basic facts regarding the South China Sea before commenting on the issue.
HQ-9 missile prompted by US threat
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that "There is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another," referring to the reported Chinese deployment of missiles in the "disputed" islands in the South China Sea. He said "it's of serious concern" and the US will "have further very serious conversation" with China. The US media has responded strongly to the allegations that China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Yongxing Island, one of the islands in the Xisha chain. US Senate Armed Forces Chairman John McCain suggested the US consider "additional options to raise the costs on Beijing's behavior."
The HQ-9 missile is a typical type of defensive weapon. The Xisha Islands are Chinese territory and have long been under China's actual control. Previous disputes in the South China Sea did not involve this area, but this time the US has targeted Yongxing Island in Xisha to attack China's "militarization" of the South China Sea. Washington intends to not only tarnish China's image, but also expand the disputes so as to contain China's activities in the Nansha Islands.
The confrontation between China and the US in the South China Sea is likely to escalate. The whole of Chinese society should be cool-minded and be prepared for long-term competition with the US.
First, we should be clear about the country's stance toward the South China Sea. We are safeguarding our legitimate rights without any radical moves. Island building in Nansha and missile deployment in Xisha are in accordance with international law.
Second, China cares about developing ties with all regional countries. The missiles in Yongxing do not target any South China Sea claimants.
Third, China should send clear messages to the outside world that its defensive deployment in Yongxing targets external military threats. The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea only applies to civilian vessels and aerial vehicles. Outside warships and jet fighters must obey the principle of "innocent passage." American warships and flights have constantly made provocations in the South China Sea. The US is bold about imposing pressure on China, and China must make an appropriate response.
Fourth, how the PLA deploys weapons and the defense levels should be determined by the threat level from external military forces. If the US military stages a real threat and a military clash is looming, the PLA may feel propelled to deploy more powerful weapons.
Fifth, China does not want to see an escalation of Sino-US frictions in the South China Sea, but it should let the US know that its every single provocative act will face countermeasures from China.
Sixth, the main risks come from the uncertainty of intensity of China-US competition. It is unrealistic for relevant countries to woo the US to balance China.
Last, China should adopt an active approach to cope with an opinion war and express its stance to the world. China holds firm strategic initiatives in the South China Sea, and the US has no actual effective tools to contain China in the waters. It is best at rhetoric offense, so we must reason with it head-on. - Global Times
Washington's destabilizing role in South China Sea
South China Sea. (Photo/Xinhua)
After failing to get its way at the first U.S.-ASEAN summit in California, Washington appears ready to grasp at anything that could be used against China. And the media hype over China's deployment of a surface-to-air missile system in Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, just provided Washington a much-needed excuse to once again criticize Beijing for its alleged role in "militarizing" the region.
For starters, China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and deploying limited and necessary national defense facilities on China's own territory has nothing to do with militarization in the South China Sea.
China has repeatedly made it clear that it has no intention to militarize the region. Its activities are mainly for maintenance purposes, improving the living conditions for the stationed personnel there and providing more public goods in the region.
With trillions of dollars' worth of goods traversing the patch of water every year, the South China Sea is vital both to global trade and to China's development. Beijing has no reason to disrupt one of its own crucial arteries of trade.
Meanwhile, the United States, which has become fixated on the South China Sea since Washington announced a pivot to the Asia-Pacific, has been the primary source of destabilization in the area.
It has conducted a slew of naval and air patrol trips in the vicinity of the China-owned islands, which is in clear violation of China's sovereignty, not to mention international law.
In addition, it has also reopened military bases in the Philippines, in a move widely interpreted as stirring up tension in the region.
Furthermore, some countries in the region are taking more provocative measures to press for illegitimate territorially claims ever since the U.S. put the South China Sea on its radar.
If there were a ranking for destabilizers in the South China Sea, there's no doubt Washington would top the list.
China's practices in the region are defensive in nature, and it sees direct talks between rival claimants rather than military means as the best way to resolve any dispute.
For the sake of regional stability and the common good, let's hope the United States honor its previous commitment of not taking sides on the issue or stirring up tensions. Only then can the South China Sea be home to calm waters. Xinhua
Military factors injected by US provocation in the South China Sea
In an exclusive report, Fox News claimed that it obtained civilian satellite imagery which appears to show China's HQ-9 air defense system on Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Fox News used this as evidence that China is increasingly "militarizing" its islands and "ramping up tensions in the region." Many Western media picked up the news.
They probably aren't clear about the differences between the constructed islands in Nansha Islands and Yongxing Island in Xisha. The disputes over the sovereignty of islands in Nansha are sharp, while the Xisha Islands are under the actual control of China.
China has released the baseline of the territorial sea to the Xisha Islands and their sovereignty is not disputed. Meanwhile, Yongxing is the largest of the Xisha Islands and the location of the city of Sansha. Defensive weapons were deployed on the island in the past. Even if the presence of the HQ-9 system is true as the West has claimed, it is a matter of China's sovereignty and it is fully legitimate for China to do so.
US authorities and opinion have paid particular attention to the "militarization" of the South China Sea, which shows the absurdity of US-style hegemonic mentality. The US, an outsider, has injected the most military elements in the region. It will reopen military bases in the Philippines. It also advocates its allies, Japan and Australia, to join its military navigation in the South China Sea. The biggest act of militarization is that it sent warships within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by China.
Facing more frequent provocations from the US military, China should strengthen self-defense in the islands in the South China Sea. The deployment of defense systems is not in the domain of militarization, as militarization of islands often means they are built into a fortress to become an outpost of military contests.
Guam is a typical example of US militarization. In recent years, Guam has deployed offensive nuclear submarines and various missile systems which are aimed at deterring China, making it the new pillar of US military deterrence in the Pacific.
At least currently, China finds it does not need to militarize the islands to cope with the other South China Sea claimants. As long as Washington does not inject tensions, China has no motivation to do so. Uncertainties in the future come from the US side.
Once the US repeatedly sends warships to make provocations at Chinese islands and threatens the security of Chinese people and facilities on the islands, more military equipment should be deployed to counter US provocations. This is common in contemporary international relations.
Once the South China Sea is militarized, it will only add to China's strategic costs. Therefore, China will hardly resort to the last choice. But China is not the decisive factor, as it is propelled to react due to provocations from the US and its allies.
China is serious about ensuring stability and prosperity around the South China Sea and has invested enormous energy and resources. The region is adjacent to the route of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative and China's efforts are eliminating vulnerability caused by a lack of security trust.
Even if the HQ-9s are deployed on South China Sea islands, regional countries would not raise much concern as these claimants have no intention to fight for air supremacy. Jet fighters from the US, an outside country, may feel uneasy when making provocative flights in the region. To us, that's a proper result. - Global Times
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