Trade War Returns Military Tension To The South China Sea

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An American destroyer patrol waters that Beijing claims as its own.

Tension has returned to the convulsive waters of  the South China Sea. It was more than predictable in this American dynamic of stepping on all the tripe to  Beijing that already includes tariff escalation  and  torpedoes to its main multinational.

The friction comes this time from the  USS Preble, a US destroyer with guided missiles, sent on Sunday to patrol the waters of Scarborough Reef  . Washington pompously calls “freedom of navigation exercises” which is to periodically walk their ships and planes in front of the  islands claimed by China with the indisputable goal of irritating her. Beijing judges them as violations of their legal maritime exclusion zone.

The maneuvers on Sunday of the destroyer sought, according to the US fleet in the Pacific, to respond to “excessive maritime claims and preserve access to roads as mandated by international law.” The Chinese Army has since practiced both naval and aerial exercises to suggest to the American ship that it will be better for all if it leaves. That incursion, Beijing has clarified, “endangers the safety of Chinese and American ships and personnel and  violates Chinese sovereignty”His Foreign Ministry has demanded that Washington end the” provocative actions “that damage both bilateral relations and peace and stability in the region.

It is the second similar episode starring a US ship since the commercial war entered its crudest phase last month and is not expected to be the last. Washington had sent its destroyer  Chung Hoon to the Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratley archipelago. The excessive approach of ships and planes of both powers have been on the verge of causing accidents in the past.

Territorial litigation

The South China Sea is one of the most erogenous zones of the Pacific. There, Beijing collects  territorial lawsuits with half a dozen countries. The picture has been aggravated in recent years by the stifling US military presence in the Chinese backyard and Beijing’s drive to lift islands over the sea. According to China, they will favour international traffic. In Washington’s opinion, they will serve as military bases.

The International Court of Arbitration of The Hague ruled in 2016 against China in its claims on the Scarborough Reef and accused it of violating the sovereignty of the Philippines. China, like the rest of the great powers, ignored the judgment of the court. The famous “line of nine points”, which serves Beijing to claim 90% of the waters of the sea, centers the debate. Neighbouring countries respected the demarcation for decades in what Beijing understands as a tacit recognition of their rights.

The economy and geopolitics mutated that calm in turbulence. First, studies revealed huge deposits of natural gas and oil in the subsoil. Afterwards, the United States chose the warm waters of the Pacific to settle the global hegemony with China.

Trade War Returns Military Tension To The South China Sea

The US destroyer USS Preble, in the Indian Ocean


Source: El Periodico