US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated the US has a "national interest in freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea. But putting aside that there's no threat to US sea lane security, it is the US that is entering other countries' exclusive economic zones and threatening the security of other countries.
Even if the problem of sea lanes security really exists, it is a problem of sea power, which has nothing to do with the dispute over sovereignty among the claimants over the South China Sea.
The US has said that it will not take sides in regional disputes. However, the territory of the Philippines was shaped by the US-Spain Treaty of Paris (1898), the US-Spain Washington Treaty (1900) and the US-UK Treaty (1930). According to these three treaties, the west limit of the Philippine territory has never reached beyond 118 degrees east longitude. Neither Huangyan Island nor Zhongye Island belongs to the Philippines.
The US knows this very clearly. It's a shame that it pretends to be "neutral" over the South China Sea issue.
There are strategic considerations why the US wants to make the situation confused and unclear.
Washington wants to distract China's strategic attention and interfere with China's peaceful development. The US knows that it will be effective to contain China both internally and externally. Domestically, the US throws dirt at China. Internationally, it downgrades China's image and soft power, and sows discord between China and surrounding countries.
The US also wants to search for support for its strategy of "back to Asia."
Actually, two strategic contractions stick in the US throat: withdrawing from Cam Ranh Bay and Danang of Vietnam, and withdrawing from the Subic Bay and Clark Air Base.
"Back to Asia" means that the US wants to return to those military bases. The US is working behind this. Vietnam, while gaining support from the US, is actually transferring part of its sovereignty to the US.
The US also wants the abundant strategic resources in the Asia Pacific. Preliminary estimates show that the reserves of oil in the South China Sea are about 23 billion to 30 billion tons. The South China Sea has been described as a "second Persian Gulf."
Geopolitically, the South China Sea, with its unique position, guards vital lines of communication between the Pacific and the Indian oceans.
The South China Sea is the lifeline of major economies such as the US. With predominance in the South China Sea, a country can effectively control these important waters and international routes.
The South China Sea issue itself is very complex. Different countries have different considerations. The US takes this opportunity to add fuel to the flames.
However, relevant countries need neither international police nor arbitrator.
According to an old Chinese saying, it's easier to raise the devil than to lay him. The South China Sea issue can be resolved by the countries in the region, who are neighbors in spite of disputes.
Therefore, I advise that the South China Sea countries should be sympathetic to each other.
They should not attach their fates to the war chariot of the US, which will injure others and ruin themselves at the same time.
The author is a major general at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences. firstname.lastname@example.org