Even though the Trump White House administration is seeking tighter cooperation of China when it comes to the North Korean issue, that does not mean they are willing to give Xi Jinping’s government a free pass on further developing the South China Sea islands it claims.
For that reason, the Pentagon confirmed that a Navy destroyer sailed past one of the islands China claims today, to the latter’s anger.
The US Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out maneuvering operations near the Paracel islands.
China’s Defense Ministry responded: “We demand the U.S. side earnestly take steps to correct its mistakes.”
As you know, China started building military bases on seven of the small islands in the South China sea which are not internationally assigned but which the Beijing Communist government claims belong to them.
On each of these islands, it has built landing strips for airplanes, missile defense systems and radar systems, thus enlarging its controlled territory in the Asian seas, much to the discomfort of its neighbors.
Also, the South Chinese sea is incredibly rich in natural resources and has an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil stashed in its bottom.
And of course, 30% of all the world’s shipping trade passes through the South China sea, so whoever controls it, can control most of the world’s raw goods.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ms Hua Chunying repeated that the Paracels were clearly Chinese territory: “China will continue to take resolute measures to protect Chinese sovereign territory and maritime interests. China urges the U.S. to conscientiously respect China’s sovereign territory and security interests, conscientiously respect the efforts regional countries have made to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea, and stop these wrong actions.”
Most of the territory China claims could be disputed by the government of the Philippines, a historic US ally. The artificial islands China built are not officially on the agenda for the Duterte-Trump talks yet when the US President visits in November, but few doubt that the issue will not be discussed.