US escalates South China Sea provocation, demonstrating cheap muscle-flexing
Published: Dec 04, 2023 12:15 PM
US in South China Sea Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

US in South China Sea Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

The statement released by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Southern Theater Command this morning stated that the USS Gabrielle Giffords littoral combat ship illegally intruded into the waters near Ren'ai Reef in China's Nansha Islands. The Southern Theater Command organized naval forces to track and monitor the ship and stated that the command is maintaining a high level of alertness.

Ren'ai Reef is one of the most tense areas in the South China Sea. Chinese coast guard ships have had multiple confrontations with Philippine vessels near Ren'ai Reef this year, and a collision occurred in October. The arrival of the US ship at Ren'ai Reef at this time is intended to support the Philippines and is a dangerous demonstration and provocation. This time, China took the initiative to announce the incident, indicating that China has no intention of handling the matter quietly but rather quickly presenting the situation to the world. This demonstrates the firm military posture of the Southern Theater Command and also shows China's determination to defend territorial sovereignty and not make concessions to the illegal claims of the Philippines supported by the US.

By press time, the US has not made any statement on the Ren'ai Reef incident, and there is no news from the Philippines. On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard claimed that 135 Chinese boats appeared near Niu'E Jiao Reef, describing the situation as "alarming." Ren'ai Reef and Niu'E Jiao Reef are not too far apart, about 100 kilometers away. However, the situation on Ren'ai Reef is more confrontational because there is an old grounded Philippine warship. The Philippines has been trying to transport construction materials to strengthen the warship. However, China allows the Philippines to transport living supplies to the ship, but firmly opposes reinforcement of the ship. Therefore, ships from both sides continue to stage tense scenes of "cat and mouse" in the waters.

So far, there have been no reports of US ships coming to Ren'ai Reef before. The appearance of US ships there this time is an escalation of the US gesture of intervening in the South China Sea.

As far as I remember, there have been no reports of US ships coming to Ren'ai Reef before. The appearance of the US ship there this time is an escalation of the US gesture of intervening in the South China Sea.

China and the US have just reached a consensus on resuming military communication. The purpose is to stabilize bilateral relations and prevent military frictions in the air and sea. On the other hand, the US has repeatedly declared in recent years that it will protect Philippine warships and ships from attack in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US. The US' stance is quite complicated. However, overall, the US military is very wary of China's firm stance and adequate military preparations on the South China Sea issue. It still hopes to use cheap muscle-flexing and petty actions to incite the Philippines to confront China more boldly, disrupt the situation in the South China Sea, and distract China's attention. Most analysts believe that the US itself is not yet ready to take the lead in a full-scale confrontation with China in the South China Sea.

The author is a Chinese media professional. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn