While it appears that Wang Yi and Kerry have made progress on talks about North Korean sanctions, in contrast, the difficulty for China and America to communicate regarding the South China Sea question is evidently much higher. Wang Yi emphasized that the non-militarization of the South China Sea is not the responsibility of the Chinese and that America ought to seriously listen to the elaborations put forth by the minister of foreign affairs of China.
Commander Harry Harris of the United States Pacific Command testified before Congress at the same time as Wang Yi’s visit to America, remarking that China’s deployment of missile and radar installations on the islands and reefs of the South China Sea, as well as the construction of runways, etc., “will change the operational landscape in the region” for the U.S. military, as American media have dutifully hyped the deployment of Shenyang J-11 fighters to the Paracel Islands. These voices may become the public opinion prelude to increased American military demonstrations in the South China Sea.
Kerry has mentioned that China and Vietnam, along with other nations in the South China Sea region, “have unfortunately created an escalatory cycle,” but America, by adopting a military interventionist stance in the South China Sea, seems as if it is forming an even riskier escalatory cycle with China. This is the region’s more unfortunate development.
With China, Vietnam and other nations stuck at an impasse, everyone doing as they please within the isles and reefs they functionally control seems to be the beginning of a new unwritten rule. Getting rid of the American element, most recently the thrusts of multilateralism, which trend toward stability, have been greater than any impetus where the control of the situation may be lost in the South China Sea. If the states within the region can take a leading role in deciding the method and pace of solving these problems, then the South China Sea will not see any major concerns – at least for some time.
The South China Sea’s newest, as well as greatest, change has been the United States’ direct interference. American military power publicly showing its muscle has abruptly changed the nature of the strategic concerns in the South China Sea; that a minor incident may spark war has since taken on a completely different meaning than before. With America having introduced anxiety and its influence on the entire situation, the South China Sea “powder keg” has become a topic of idle chit-chat for some.
Clearly, people have reason to be concerned that America is now instigating a certain type of fundamental change in the South China Sea situation, and making indeterminate plans for a future rainy day.
The American military is sending provocative signals in the South China Sea, seriously increasing the Chinese people’s sense of urgency for the need to establish measures to control American military provocation. The South China Sea is China’s front door and problems that arise therein bring pain that is keenly felt by us. When American ships and planes blatantly charge within the twelve nautical miles from China’s islands and reefs, many Chinese feel that even though we carry only a slingshot in our hands, we cannot simply stand by indifferent.
Chinese missiles and radar on the islands can be said to have been well-received online, with much noise and fanfare, and given a great red flower to wear. It can be anticipated that if American pressure were to increase, Chinese public opinion would certainly demand that the Liberation Army rise to the challenge, and this should not be the least bit surprising.
If America wishes to turn the South China Sea into a stage for a military show, it is not at all realistic that their warships will still look like leisurely cruise ships in demonstrations, or that their pilots will enjoy unfettered gliding like sportsmen. China will ensure that they are at once detected by radar, subjected to even more direct warning and air and sea escort expulsion and supervision. They would consequently have no choice but to respect the rules, and should they make any prominent threat to Chinese islands and reefs, they will need to be mentally prepared for Chinese fire control targeting to lock on to them.
Regarding this, it should not be any secret from the Chinese side; our society really feels this way, and the Chinese Army should heed the will of the people. Of course, such determination should not always be on the tip of one’s tongue, but it is necessary for China to use every possible channel to express itself clearly to America. As America increases military pressure in the South China Sea, so too do relevant Chinese military measures strengthen. Since the Chinese presumably do not want to engage in a chicken-or-egg debate with America over the islands, and because the hairs-breadth distance of the affair involves China’s own national security, we are able only to do so.
Kerry and Harris suddenly have the nerve to echo one another, criticizing China’s “militarization” of islands and reefs in the South China Sea and rattling on about how the American combat environment is changed by the Chinese military deployment. The South China Sea can be only the water trough which American military equipment harmlessly passes through; this place is not suitable for America to precisely calculate whether or not it has lost a gram of its hegemony. If American does not take a realist view of the South China Sea, then it should know that in the next several decades, the more it makes things difficult for China, the more difficult things will be for itself.
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