China is continuously building new artificial islands to expand their territory in the South China Sea, also known as the Spratly Islands. The U.S. is concerned with the land reclamation, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has called for China to cease their development process. The land reclamation puts surrounding regions into disarray, which suggests China and all other nations need to act responsibly. Unfortunately, China is ignoring the warnings being sent to them about their artificial islands and continues to strive for full control over the sea.
On Friday, May 29, the U.S. released reports stating, China wants to have dominance over the artificial islands, which are created by a formulation of a collection of rocks and reefs, that are rich in resources. In order for China to prove their need of control over the sea, the country has placed two mobile vehicle artillery on the islands. The weapons do not pose a threat to America’s navy, but U.S. officials told sources, they fear that China’s intentions for the Spratly Islands are to militarize them. Nonetheless, the reefs and rock collections are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, who use the waters as shipping lanes to control their smaller neighbors.
U.S. officials are concerned about the land reclamation of the South China Sea, and are doing their best to inform the public about the installments of the artificial islands, to prevent the Chinese from turning the region into islands used predominately for their military. Since 2012, the Chinese have been ambitious to claim up to 80 percent of the Spratly Islands. Recent photographs from spy planes and satellites showed sources that the country has been exceeding with their goal to conquer the sea, at a tremendous speed.
Recent photo’s have shown the Chinese have built finished masses of harbors and runways on some of the islands. Some officials from Washington believe that China considers its claim in having parts of the South China Sea as nonnegotiable. The Chinese have argued their neighboring countries, Vietnam and the Philippines, have also built artificial Islands. In defense, Carter has stated, “China’s reclamation has been faster and gone further than the other two countries.” Since China’s artificial islands are closer to other countries, rather than sitting on its own, it forced Carter to call for the halt of the land reclamations taking place amongst all nations, and those that are militarized.
China has not realized their goal of conquering the South China Sea region, which has caused their Asian neighbors to merge in defense with the U.S. The Obama Administration has stepped up and pronounced that America will be the Pacific power to maintain the region and guarantee the waters will remain attainable to all sharing nations of the South China Sea. CIA Deputy Director, Michael Morell told sources, he believes the halt declared by Carter, and the decision made by the administration will put China and the U.S. at risk for a war between the two.
Although the U.S. has been the Pacific power for decades, continuous power will promote stability which will allow South Korea, Japan, China, and other nations, to continue to develop accordingly. Obama’s administration would prefer a peaceful solution of the South China Sea, but U.S. officials believe China’s stubbornness will cause them to feel unchallenged.
As the land reclamations of the South China Sea comes to a halt, the U.S. is considering a way to ease their concerns of further developments of artificial islands. Currently they are flying surveillance planes over the islands and sailing U.S. warships closer to the islands to post as guards.
By Krystle Mitchell
New York Times–Pushback in South China Sea
CNN–U.S. Defense Chief to China: End Sea Expansion
Rte.ie–Concerns Over Land Reclamation Projects
Photo Courtesy of Storm Crypt’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License