Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-15 0:28:01
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said US ships and aircraft would "fly, sail and operate whenever international law permits" in response to a question about whether the US would enter 12 nautical miles of China's "artificial islands" in the South China Sea. Carter said the South China Sea would not be an exception.
It was reported by US media recently that US military vessels would enter within 12 nautical miles from China's "artificial islands" in the South China Sea, and challenge China's construction work in that region and claims over the Nansha Islands. It is said that relevant plans have been submitted to the president's office. China may face a grave test imposed by Washington's escalation of tensions over the maritime disputes.
"Artificial island" is an inaccurate depiction of China's construction work in the South China Sea. China is expanding, not building these islands out of thin air. The expanding national interest in terms of waters and air space is not yet clearly defined by international law. Whether this ambiguity could trigger major-power conflicts depends on what major powers think.
China has not made any statement about the expansion of its sovereignty due to the construction work, and China has no intention of claiming more sovereignty. Washington's ceaseless provocations and coercion can only demonstrate that it does not intend to protect freedom of navigation in this region, as China has clearly stated that the right will not be impeded. What the US wants is to play rough against China and stress its hegemony.
In this case, China mustn't tolerate rampant US violations of China's adjacent waters and the skies over these expanding islands. The Chinese military should be ready to launch countermeasures according to Washington's level of provocation.
The US must have known that China's reclamation work does not contravene international law, so Washington has no sufficient reason to stop China. Despite the legitimacy of China's construction work and the public good it can provide, if the US adopts an aggressive approach, it will be a breach of China's bottom line, and China will not sit idly by.
China has remained calm with self-restraint even in the face of Washington's escalating provocations, but if the US encroaches on China's core interests, the Chinese military will stand up and use force to stop it.
If Washington wants to prove it can keep its military edge in China's offshore areas, then let it come. US military forces will have a chance to test the deterrence of its equipment and its willingness to show off its hegemony on China's doorstep at any cost.
The South China Sea is not a place where countries can act wantonly. Rules should be jointly made by all stakeholders, and US military ships cannot dominate the region. Washington has over-estimated the effect of its military prowess.