Obama Won’t Back Down After Chinese Threat, Sends U.S. Warships To Contested Islands In “Matter Of Days”
On Friday, we reported the latest provocation in what has truly become a very dangerous, if largely pointless, staring contest between Beijing and Washington over China’s reclamation of land in The South China Sea.
Responding to suggestions that the US was set to sail warships around the islands Beijing has constructed atop reefs in the Spratlys, China served noticed that it would “never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight.” This was simply a formalized version of the more concise phrasing the PLA navy used when they instructed the pilots flying a US spy plane to “Go now!” when it ventured too close to Fiery Cross earlier this year.
It’s not immediately clear what China intends to do with the islands and further, it’s not entirely clear why anyone should necessarily care if Beijing wants to build “sand castles” in the middle of the ocean, but then again, for America’s regional allies the land reclamation efforts look a lot an attempt to build a series of military outposts by creating sovereign territory where there was none thereby effectively redrawing maritime boundaries and so, big brother in Washington is set to step in in order to protect vital shipping lanes.
Of course having already said that the navy plans to sail ships into the waters around the islands, the US can ill-afford to allow China’s “we won’t tolerate that” pronouncement to deter the Pentagon because the optics around that would be terrible at a time when the world is already questioning the strength and resolve of the US military. So the ships will indeed sail. Here’s WSJ:
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