Tensions in South China Sea – why the sudden hype?

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Why did the U.S. Military, usually rather secretive regarding its operations, invite CNN to publicize recent confrontations with the Chinese military in the South China Sea? Why is the U.S. Military going public at this time about these Chinese island construction projects that have been going on for years?

Remember that the robotic brains that run the military – and especially the Pentagon – do nothing on a whim; this has to be part of some larger (dis-)information objective. Was the whole operation just an exercise to heighten fears regarding China? And if so, why alarm the American public at this particular time?

According to Reuters, China said on Friday that it was “strongly dissatisfied” after a U.S. spy plane flew over part of the South China Sea last Wednesday, May 20, near the area where China has been building artificial islands.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news conference that “Such action is likely to cause an accident, it is very irresponsible and dangerous and detrimental to regional peace and stability. We express our strong dissatisfaction, we urge the U.S. to strictly abide by international law and international rules and refrain from taking any risky and provocative actions.”

A Pentagon spokesman reportedly called the mission “routine”, saying that such flights occurred “every few days.” However, last week’s flight was highlighted by the highly unusual Pentagon decision to invite a CNN team aboard one of its Poseidon surveillance planes. The Chinese navy reportedly issued eight warnings to the aircraft ordering it to move away from the contested territory.

southchinasea

Disputed areas in South China Sea. China claims a vast majority of the sea, and it has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. Image Credits: Yeu Ninje / Wiki.

According to Reuters, Washington has been struggling to find ways of discouraging what it has described as the “unprecedented” speed and scale of China’s land reclamation work. The main concerns of U.S. military and other regional players revolve around the purpose of these islands, which could be used for military and other facilities to strengthen the country’s territorial claims.

“How China proceeds will be a key indicator of whether the region is heading toward confrontation or cooperation,” US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. recently declared at a naval conference in Australia.

The Global Times, a tabloid owned by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, declared in an editorial piece that “The US is raising the risk of physical confrontation with China recently. Both sides are unwilling to compromise in strategic purposes, then tactically, Washington will draw closer to a tipping point. The trend will lead to a dangerous outcome if China does not and will not allow excessive concessions. Thus, it is essential that both sides should show their bottom lines to each other, and see if one can respect the other on these.”

Once again, I would remind you that such events usually make little sense without taking the bigger picture into account. And as I mentioned in my previous post, about Jade Helm 15, the bigger picture is that of a very fragile, unstable and volatile global situation. Also remember that the best way for a Government to distract the public from what it wants to do on the home-front is to engage in a foreign war.

Henri Thibodeau


Reference Material

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