New perils for peace in South China Sea

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Ashraf Ansari

LATELY a US warship was on a patrol mission in South China sea near Yongshu Reef. The Yongshu Reef is claimed by China, Vietnam and the Philippines. China wants to settle the problem through diplomatic means. The other two claimants are also inclined to seeking peaceful resolution of the issue among the neighboring countries. The patrol by a US warship marks US involvement in the South China Sea. The US interest in the problem of three regional countries cannot be justified as it will lead to heightening of tension in the region.
Beijing has expressed “resolute opposition” to the patrol by a United States warship in the South China Sea near Yongshu Reef in the Nansha Islands.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense said the patrol only further justified China’s construction of defense facilities in the area.
The USS William P. Lawrence entered Chinese waters near the islands “illegally” on May 10 ,Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, adding that the warship was monitored, tracked and warned. Yongshu Reef belongs to China but is also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Reuters quoted Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Department of Defense, as saying that the freedom of navigation operation was a challenge to “the excessive maritime claims of some claimants in the South China ea”.
Lu said, “The action by the US threatens China’s sovereignty and security, endangers the safety of people and facilities on the reef, and harms regional peace and stability. “China strongly opposes such action by the US and will continue to take measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security” Lu said adding the flexing of US military muscle in the name of freedom of navigation poses the biggest threat to peace and stability in the area.
The Chinese Defense Ministry said, “China dispatched vessels and aircraft, including two fighter jets and three warships to identify the US vessel and warned it to leave. The ministry said the provocation exposed US intention “to disrupt the regional situation and reap gains from it. It proved that China’s construction of defense facilities on. Nansha Islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands is totally justified and very necessary”. “China will enhance maritime and air patrols as well as the construction of “various defense capacities” in the area according to its needs,” it added.
Li Guoqiang, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, said the unauthorized entry into Chinese territorial waters by the US military vessel “is against the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and violates the rights, littoral states enjoy under the convention”.
The US has frequently demonstrated its military power in the South China Sea recently. Examples include US B-52 bombers flying near Huayang Reef in December 2015 and the destroyer USS Lassen entering within 22 kilometers of Zhubi Reef in October, last year.
The US involvement in South China sea is not a welcome development in the context of world peace and understanding between Washington and Beijing. The patrol by US warship in the South China Sea will encourage China to build more defense facilities in the area which could cause regional as well as international tension.

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