Good Kings of the East update.
Chinese media criticised the US on Thursday for “ceaseless provocations” in the South China Sea, with Washington expected to soon send warships close to artificial islands Beijing has built in disputed waters.
An editorial in the Global Times, which is close to China’s ruling Communist party, condemned US “coercion”, adding: “China mustn’t tolerate rampant US violations of China’s adjacent waters and the skies over those expanding islands.”
It said China’s military should “be ready to launch countermeasures according to Washington’s level of provocation”.
Tensions have mounted since China transformed reefs in the area – also claimed by several neighbouring countries – into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation.
What’s behind Beijing’s drive to control the South China Sea?
Following a meeting of American and Australian officials on Tuesday, the US defense secretary, Ash Carter, warned Beijing that Washington would continue to send its military where international law allows, including the South China Sea.
The remarks were backed by the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who said the two countries were “on the same page”.
Senior officials in Washington have indicated that the US military could sail by these islands in the coming days or weeks.
The warship or ships would pass within the 19km (12-mile) territorial limit China claims around the structures, to demonstrate that US commanders do not recognise it.
Such a move, the Global Times suggested, could be a “breach of China’s bottom line”.
“If the US encroaches on China’s core interests, the Chinese military will stand up and use force to stop it,” the paper warned.
The editorial came after China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said “certain countries have been flexing military muscles in the South China Sea over recent period of times”.
“That is the biggest cause of ‘militarisation’ in the South China Sea,” she added at a regular briefing on Wednesday.
On Saturday, China said work had finished on two lighthouses in the disputed area and pledged to build more facilities, which it said were intended to serve civilian as well as military purposes.
Satellite images of the islands published by a Washington-based think tank show runways that could be used by air force jets.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – claim parts of the sea. Taiwan is a sixth claimant.
China has invited Asean defence ministers for a two-day informal summit in Beijing starting on Thursday, according to the country’s defence ministry.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has accused China of sinking one of its fishing boats near disputed islands in the South China Sea that could further raise tensions between the Communist neighbours.
Phan Huy Hoang, an official in central Quang Ngai province where the fishermen came from, said on Thursday a Chinese vessel slammed into the fishing boat with 10 fishermen on board near the Paracels islands on 29 September and sank it.
The fishermen were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat and the case was reported to authorities when the fishermen returned home two days ago.
Hoang said more than 20 Vietnamese fishing boats had been attacked by Chinese vessels this year. He said a formal protest would be made to China.
Categories: Kings of the East