Beijing accuses Washington of violation of its territorial waters

Claudine Rigal
Août 13, 2017

Beijing says US Navy warship sailing near disputed region violated worldwide law and threatened its sovereignty.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

China has since 2015 dredged a new harbour and added 10 hectares (about 25 acres) of land on Tree island in the Paracels, and has recently completed a new helipad and installed wind turbines and photovoltaic solar arrays there, it said.

Yet ASEAN failed to come up with a consensus agreement on reclamation and militarization. A similar underwater vehicle was seized by China off the Philippines on Thursday.

"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea".

Since ASEAN operates on the basis of consensus, every member wields a de facto veto.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the U.S. side".

"They (Chinese) are not reclaiming land anymore", Cayetano said.

China has refused to recognise a ruling by The Hague in 2016 that its historic "nine-dash line" claim to sovereignty over numerous islands is invalid, and is trying to reach its own settlement with rival claimants. Tensions are mounting. This is a gradual process, and the problem is that the South China Sea is now becoming a geopolitical whirlpool sucking in more and more countries. He appeared oblivious of the scale of China's island-building spree, which is of an entirely different order of magnitude from those of other littoral states, including Vietnam.

Since reclamation work to connect on two other Paracel islands was washed out by a typhoon last October, China has undertaken additional reclamation and built new structures there, it added. Moreover, the United States, Japan, and Vietnam tried to use China's threats and actions to attempt to unite ASEAN against China - at least on this set of issues. The U.S. move will "compel China to take measures to further raise its capacity to defend national territory", he said.

It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" conducted during Trump's presidency.

China's possible legal rationales for its sweeping claims in the South China Sea were rejected by the global arbitration panel last summer. Both have been signed by China with little or no impact on its reclamation activities. On Thursday, he suggested that he might spare China trade penalties if it did more to curtail North Korea. According to Wang, further negotiation would have to be based on "the condition that there is no major outside interference" in the South China Sea.

Such operations, Nauert said, get the "most attention" when they occur in the South China Sea.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says in a statement that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula "is complex and sensitive". This has prompted concern over prospects of an accidental clash near the tiny islets, which are claimed as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

Now, China has established undeniable "facts in the water" whereby it controls a vast military complex with burgeoning naval might. This loss of confidence clearly erodes USA soft power and weakens ASEAN's bargaining position vis-a-vis China.

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