CHINA is on a collision course with the US over a bitter territorial dispute that has sparked fears of a new global war breaking out NEXT WEEK.
A long-running legal battle between China and the Philippines will conclude on Tuesday, July 12, when the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration delivers its verdict over the so-called "Nine-Dash Line" – a key shipping route in the South China Sea.
The decision comes three years after the Philippines brought its case to tribunal, with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also laying claims to overlapping areas of the ocean.
As you can see above, each of the nations in the area lays claim to a portion of the ocean off their coast, but as the red colored line shows, CHINA claims . . . ALL OF IT. . . even though that part of the ocean the ocean is not within 200 miles of China's coast! In fact, the "Spratley Islands" are more than eight hundred miles (1200km) away from China's shore!
The other countries in the area, especially the Philippines, told China to stay out of their territorial waters and China basically said, "we have a bigger Navy than you (and than the USA) and we'll do what we want." Everyone else has said "No, you won't."
So China started dredging to build-up portions of the Spratley Islands, then populate those new creations with Chinese troops, airfields and Naval facilities.
China claims virtually all of the resource-rich sea as it's own, and has continued with an aggressive building program of military ports, artificial runways and fortresses, despite international condemnation.
The country has already said it will ignore the Hague's ruling, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying it "would only escalate the disputes and tensions.”
Ahead of the ruling, the US government called for “all claimants to avoid provocative actions or statements.”
But in an editorial in the state-owned People Daily newspaper – the official mouthpiece of Beijing – China warned there would be "a price to pay" for further interference from the US.
The newspaper editorial said:
“There is a bottom line with every issue, and a price will be paid if that line is crossed.
“If the United States, regardless of the cost, chooses the path of ‘brinkmanship’ that pressures and intimidates others, there will be only one result, that is, that the US bears all the responsibility for possibly further heightening tensions in the South China Sea.
A US satellite image shows construction of a possible radar tower facilities in the South China Sea
Chinese officials are already angry with America carrying out naval missions within the South China Sea, under the convention of Freedom of Navigation in international waters.
Last month Chinese fighter jets flew within 15 metres of a US aircraft over the East China Sea – a move which Secretary of State John Kerry described as a “provocative and destabilising act”.
Seemingly demonstrating its resolve, China has begun a week-long series of combat drills near the southern island province of Hainan and the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, which focused on air control, surface operations and anti-submarine warfare.
A Fight Likely
It comes down to this: The Hague will issue its ruling on Tuesday. If, as expected, the ruling goes against China — and the Chinese "ignore it"– then there's probably going to be a rather large fight.
The US is deadly serious about this issue. It has deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region:
The US is GROSSLY outnumbered by Chinese Naval assets. Here's the breakdown as of 2015 before things got nasty; China has a HUGE advantage over the US:
Of course, Japan, the Philippines and other nations in the region will likely side with the US to preserve their own waters, but if a fight breaks out, it will beferocious; and it is a fight the US can very well LOSE.
Stay tuned. Fireworks could start around this Tuesday.
As the international court at the Hague prepares to rule on the South China Sea territorial dispute, Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with authors James Bradley and Patrick Lawrence to discuss the ongoing tensions in the region.
"It’s a highly emotional issue between the two countries here," Bradley tells Loud & Clearhost Brian Becker.
The case, brought against China by the Philippines, alleges that Beijing has encroached on Manila’s territorial waters in the South China Sea. The escalation of the dispute has been heavily driven by the interests of the United States.
"Why did the Philippines agree to bilateral talks and then request international adjudication? I think the answer to that lies in the [US] State Department. The Philippines, with some exceptional periods, has been a very cooperative client of the United States," Lawrence says.
"This has to do with America’s desire for hegemony – we [the United States] are simply not going to let go of that: military hegemony and the primacy of the neoliberal economic order."
While Washington frequently accuses Beijing of being an aggressor, it consistently ignores the United States’ own fraught history in the South Pacific.
"When you look at who’s militarizing what, just go to Laos. One-third of the country, you still can’t walk around. There’s color-coded sidewalks. You know, don’t walk off the sidewalk, there might be an American bomb still there. One-third of the country they still can’t farm," Bradley says, describing the undetonated ordnance that still litters the country, decades after the Vietnam War.
In the legal case against China, the United States cites the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea. But the US has refused to ratify that agreement.
"Suddenly, the United States is standing on international law. It’s sheer opportunity, that’s all there is to it," Lawrence says. "We [the US] have no grounds whatsoever. We surrendered all claims long, long ago to any prudence or rectitude in international law. We have nothing to stand on.
"I think the only people who are fooled by this are Americans."
A highly-contested regionthrough which nearly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the South China Sea is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
The United States has no territorial claims in the region, and while the Pentagon’s military buildup in the South China Sea may be aimed at stopping China’s rise, Beijing will likely continue to grow in influence.
"I see China as much more stable. I don’t buy into these themes that China is an aggressor that we need to worry about," Bradley says. "I don’t buy into these themes that we Westerners should speculate about how China’s going to change."
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