U.S. is right to assail China on its South China Sea claims

The South China sea stretches over 1.4 million square miles, rich in natural resources and bejeweled with islands. China has long regarded much of the sea as its own, claiming waters more than 1.000 miles from its shores and very close to the shores of other nations. Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei make competing and overlapping claims in a tangled yet high-stakes rivalry. Territorial disputes stretch back decades, but took a new twist recently. In an Aug. 3 statement, State Department criticized China for aggressive actions to reinforce its claims. The next day, China’s Foreign Ministry summoned an American diplomat for formal protest, announced that the United States “showed total disregard of facts, confounded right and wrong, sent a seriously wrong message”. Why this matters is that the United States has announced a pivot toward Asia, a seminal move to counter China’s rising influence, including a rebalancing of forces over the next eight years toward a goal of 60% of the Navy in the Pacific, up from half at present. According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that will include six aircraft carriers and a majority of cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines. United States is neutral on territorial claims in South China Sea. But the State Department’s statement was intended to push back against China’s recent harrying of Philippines and Vietnam over disputed fishing and oil drilling rights. China has announced that it is upgrading the administrative level of Sansha city, on one of the Paracel islands, to a prefecture and establishing a military garrison there, a further signal of its intent. Worried neighbors are welcoming more port calls from U.S. naval forces. U.S. statement called for resolving disputes peacefully. China saw it, quite accurately, as a challenge on behalf of the weaker states in the region and insisted the United States “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” What exactly does that entail? China has a very expansive claim to the sea, based on nine dashed lines sketched in a very imprecise fashion on a map six decades ago. The claim encroaches on some of the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones granted to other countries by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has insisted that it will work out the disputes one by one, and the United States should stay away. State Department’s statement accurately asserted United States has a “national interest” in the region: not territorial, but to protect regional stability and the huge volume of international shipping passes through the sea. The sea is clearly a flashpoint. Everyone needs to make sure it does not become a sea of hostility. (source: Editorial Board – The Washington Post – 16/08/2012)


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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