Last Tuesday, two Chinese fighter jets passed within 50 feet of a US Navy EP-3 surveillance plane as it flew over international waters near China’s coast. This dangerous incident follows a prior US Navy mission to sail within Beijing’s self-proclaimed “exclusion zone” in the South China Sea.
The zone, which spans nearly 1.4 million square miles, accommodates nearly half of global merchant shipping, one tenth of the planet’s fish catch, two thirds of global liquid natural gas shipments, and one third of the planet’s oil shipping. The Obama Administration argues that China’s claim to this area is unprecedented and “inconsistent with international law.”
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week to discuss the incident. Wang claimed that China’s actions were no different than America’s positioning of military assets on the islands of Hawaii. Kerry admitted that the US was attempting to halt China’s militarization of the South China Sea zone, in which anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles have already been installed, and blamed rising tensions in the area on China’s warlike actions.
“We don’t hope to see any more close-up military reconnaissance or the dispatch of missile destroyers or strategic bombers to the South China Sea,” warned the Foreign Minister. Such missions “seriously endanger Chinese maritime security,” complained Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Hong Lei Hong. “We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again.”
Notice how Hong used the word demand. China knows it can push us around because they’ve watched Russia do the same thing. This is what happens when you have a wimpy president more concerned with political correctness than the safety and integrity of the nation. As we wrote last month, no one in the White House seems to have the backbone to stand up to Russia – even after a recent incident in which two Russian jets seriously engaged the safety of a US Navy vessel sailing in international waters off the coast of Russia.
Until we replace Obama, Russia will continue to test its limits. And it’s setting a very bad example for other countries to follow suit. Meanwhile, China has erected airstrips on man-made islands within the zone and has already started operating military aircraft there. America, Vietnam, and other Pacific nations worry where such blatant militarization will lead. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has suggested our allies in the region should do more in the way of defense, even including the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
China has made it clear what will happen if America were to provoke China in the South China Sea zone. “The Chinese people do not want to have war, so we will be opposed to the [US] if it stirs up any conflict,” said Vice Minister Liu Zhenmin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Of course, if the Korean War or Vietnam War are replayed, then we will have to defend ourselves … China attaches far greater importance to peace in the South China Sea – much greater than the US and Japan. No one should doubt our sincerity in this subject. The Chinese government will uphold peace in Southeast Asia even for the sake of our own survival. In this sense we are actively against any moves that will jeopardize peace in the South China Sea.”
“No country would want to see confrontations between [the] US and China,” he continued, “because [the] Chinese and US economies will be hurt, and impacts will be felt across the world.”