The U.S. has recently sent surveillance flights over the South China Sea, and the Chinese government believes the flights pose as a threat. According to sources, Chinese officials said the U.S. is disturbing the peace of the South China Sea, which can cause air and sea accidents to occur. On Wednesday, May 20, the message was reported via Chinese media, following an inspection flight taken by a CNN crew over the Chinese reefs and islands.
The U.S. Navy became aware of Beijing’s usage of the islands surrounding China as an extension zone in their disputes over influence. Surveillance jets and anti-submarines were used by the U.S. Navy during the island inspection of the Chinese reefs. China’s Navy has asked U.S. Navy jets to leave the area eight times, issuing a warning which stated that the U.S. keeping their ships and planes in the vicinity of the South China Sea is dangerous, since it puts regional stability and peace at a high risk. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also advised the U.S. to obey international rules and laws by withdrawing from any controversial activities that may be risky. According to CNN, the message was released through several postings via Chinese news, and a finger is currently being pointed at Washington for causing tensions to rise on the sea.
In defense, although the U.S. is accused of disturbing the peace of the South China Sea regions, their goal is to maintain freedom in areas wholly claimed by Philippine, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Chinese navigation rights. There is competition over the territory due to its fertile grounds for fishing. The area is also thought to be possibly rich in preserved natural resources underseas. The U.S. has also argued that China has been claiming that it has authority over the South China Sea. The mission on May 20 took place due to the fact that three islands of the South China Sea, which originally been reefs, have turned into large constructions in a matter of months, and the U.S. fears they will become military installations for the Chinese.
Despite the U.S. fear, China is not backing down from creating more installments on the islands. They have recently announced plans to build two lighthouses in the waters to boost their naval reach. The Foreign Ministry says the lighthouses are being made to help with disaster relief, maritime rescue and search, navigational security, and environmental protection. According to The Huffington Post, the president of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, Wu Shicun, stated the lighthouses were originally planned to be built as facilities used by civilians throughout the region, since they are located near commercial shipping routes.
In the process of developing the lighthouses, China has made a promise, in a document released by the State Council, to increase their defenses of open seas protection by switching their air defense to offense and defense. If the U.S. continues to disturb the peace of the South China Sea, the Chinese military and naval forces are not afraid to fight back in order to maintain authority over the islands and continue to construct facilities.
By Krystle Mitchell
Huffington Post: China Expansion Plans
CNN: U.S Threatens Soouth China Sea’s Peace
Fox Carolina: China Builds New Island
Photo by Raul Moreno Jr. Courtesy of the Official U.S. Navy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License