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Who Stokes "militarization" of South China Sea?

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

11-25-2015 17:33 BJT

By Zhao Minghao, research fellow at the Charhar Institute in Beijing and adjunct fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the 10th East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 22. He proposed to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea, which demonstrates Beijing's sincerity. Li said China has identified a dual-track approach for resolving the South China Sea question, i.e., relevant disputes should be resolved by sovereign states directly concerned through negotiation and consultation, and peace and stability in the South China Sea should be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries working together.

He stressed that the relevant constructions carried out by China in the Nansha Islands are primarily for civilian purposes. They are constructed to help China better fulfill its international responsibilities and obligations, and provide more public services to vessels from other countries, including in times of maritime disasters.

The Chinese government has issued positive policies to alleviate tensions. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Singapore at the beginning of November and voiced China's stand to ASEAN countries.

Xi said the foothold of Beijing's South China Sea policies aim to safeguard peace and stability. When he visited the United States, Xi said China's construction activities on the Nansha Islands and reefs will not affect any countries and there’s no intention to carry out militarization.

However contrary to Beijing's benign attitude, US President Barack Obama boarded Philippines navy frigate "Gregorio del Pilar" during the APEC meeting in Manila.

The ship was a US Coast Guard (USCG) patrol boat. In addition, the White House announced the US will provide 79 million US dollars and two warships to the Philippines to strengthen its maritime security capabilities.

More important, the US has intensified “militarization” of the South China Sea issue through so-called "freedom of navigation actions" (FONAs). Washington will send another warship to perform FONAs in the 12 sea miles away from China's Nansha Islands in December, and two or more such patrol actions will be conducted quarterly.

On Nov. 21, the newest littoral combat ship "Milwaukee", which is deemed a slap-up maritime weapon, has joined the US Navy and will be sent to the South China Sea area.

The US has been displaying its most advanced military weapons in the South China Sea, which is supposed to overawe China. If Washington keeps deterring Beijing, China may deploy corresponding military forces to counterbalance them. Hence, a typical security dilemma could emerge.

Additionally, Japan is eager to show off its military in the South China Sea. During their meeting in Manila days ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told Obama that Tokyo will study the feasibility to send its Maritime Self-Defense forces to patrol in the South China Sea.

The Abe administration aims to stoke Washington-Beijing rivalry over the South China Sea. It despises Obama’s weak concession to China largely due to increasing threats of international terrorism in the Middle East. 

Japan has also expanded policy coordination with Australia over the South China Sea issue. The Japanese minister of foreign affairs and defense minister have exchanged views with their Australian counterparts on Nov.22 and have agreed to strengthen joint training. The two countries will sign new defense agreement. It is reported that Canberra intends to send warships to join Washington’s activities in the South China Sea.

Moreover, Tokyo has accelerated the transfer of military equipments and defense technologies to the Philippines, including second-handed aircrafts, large patrol boats and more. In April last year, Japan significantly eased weapons export restrictions, which had existed for over decades. Indeed, Manila immersed in South China Sea disputes welcomes Tokyo’s security assistance.

Although the US and Japan have boosted “militarization” in the South China Sea, China has not reinforced its military deployment to its islands yet. On the contrary, Beijing is struggling to keep the peaceful and cooperative approach by developing an East Asia maritime cooperation platform among other policy measures, with an aim to promote maritime infrastructure connectivity, scientific research and personnel training.

Nevertheless, if Washington and Tokyo continues their provocative measures over the South China Sea isse, Beijing has no reason to tie its hands. All sides need to be aware that the “militarization” would extraordinarily threaten peace and stability in the South China Sea.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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