On Tuesday, Reuters quoted two anonymous US officials as saying that China had nearly finished building almost two dozen military structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea. According to the report, the structures on the Zhubi Reef, the Meiji Reef and the Yongshu Reef appear to be 20 meters long and 10 meters high with retractable roofs. US intelligence officials believe that those would be used to deploy long-range surface-to-air missiles.
At about the same time, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of US 7th Fleet, claimed that "Unequivocally, we're prepared to fight if necessary." Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, noted on Wednesday that "We will cooperate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must." For the moment, US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is on patrol in the South China Sea.
China-US relations are at a very sensitive period. Some US analysts believe China's militarization in the South China Sea is a test on how US President Donald Trump
will response. But they failed to mention whether the US aircraft carrier's presence in the waters and the condescending remarks of US generals have encouraged Beijing to deploy weapons on the Nansha Islands.
Aren't US carrier groups' constant patrols in the South China Sea the most prominent militarization in the waters? Aren't the public statements made by the US military, that all its moves were done to warn China, direct military threats? Washington hopes Beijing would grin and bear it. Well, excuse me, China is not that docile.
The South China Sea is quiet now. China, the Philippines and Vietnam have eased their disputes and agreed to cooperate. Negotiations over a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters are progressing. The ASEAN
indicated that a deal over the COC is expected within the year, and that China is optimistic.
As long as the US does not carry out provocative moves in the waters, the South China Sea will be peaceful. If the US military insists on showing that it is capable of taming the China Dragon, they are bound to see all kinds of advanced Chinese weapons as well as other military deployments on the islands.
The South China Sea is not the Caribbean. It is not a place for the US to behave recklessly. US generals said they are ready to fight when necessary. The People's Liberation Army is also making preparations. When diplomats make efforts for peaceful and friendly ties with other nations, it is believed that the Chinese army is always on the alert. Washington has a global military presence. How can China's deployment of defense facilities on its own islands be treated as a threat?