As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to host the annual G20 summit next month, two major foreign-policy challenges have begun to simmer between the US and China: The deployment of America’s most advanced missile-defense system to South Korea and China’s role in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Here’s a brief look at both issues.
The Korean Peninsula
In July, the US agreed to equip South Korea with America’s most advanced missile-defense system in order to counter North Korean threats.
China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, has said that since the bilateral decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, the North’s missile tests have expanded and are poised to increase.
“The recent behavior from South Korea has undermined the foundation for our bilateral trust,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, quoted by Yonhap.
Similarly, Fan Changlong, one of the vice chairmen of the Chinese Central Military Commission, told US National Security Adviser Susan Rice that THAAD deployment will only worsen things on the Korean peninsula.
Meanwhile, the rogue regime continues to conduct defiant ballistic-missile tests. The most recent test occurred earlier this week when the North fired what was believed to be a KN-11 missile from a submarine.
So far this year, North Korea has conducted a little more than 13 rounds of ballistic missile tests and has fired 29 various rockets, according to South Korea’s UN ambassador.
In conjunction with US forces, the THAAD system is slated to be operational in South Korea by the end of 2017.
Until then, China remains a master of what authors Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan of “The Russia-China Axis” call a “geopolitical two-step.”
China is “[d]oing the bare minimum necessary to create the impression of cooperation (voting for sanctions on North Korea, for instance) while doing nothing substantive to truly cooperate (not lifting a finger to enforce those same sanctions).”
South China Sea
Despite last month’s historic legal decision rejecting China’s nine-dash line in the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea, Beijing continues to dig in its heels over its claims.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a 500-page unanimous ruling in Republic of Philippines v. People’s Republic of China, a case brought by the Philippines in 2013.
The court found that Beijing had violated the Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights and concluded there was no legal basis for China’s nine-dash line, which encompasses approximately 85% of the South China Sea.
And while the ruling is only binding between Beijing and Manila, it does, however, set a legal foundation by determining that the rules of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLCLOS) take precedence over China’s historic claims.
In short, if there is no nine-dash line, other territorial claimants in the South China Sea may be inspired to file lawsuits against China if Beijing refuses to compromise on access to the resource-rich waters.
With rival territorial claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China, the South China Sea — rich in natural resources and crisscrossed by shipping routes — is one of the most militarized areas on the planet.
However, Beijing has maintained that the Hague-based court ruling has no bearing on its rights in the South China Sea.
What’s more, Chinese construction in these waters isn’t quite over.
Nearly a month after the Hague-based court’s decision, new satellite images published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a unit of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, showed significant preparations are underway for Chinese military aircraft.
“China is building hangar space for 24 fighter jets and three to four larger military planes at each of its three largest artificial islands,” Gregory Poling, director of AMTI told Business Insider in a previous interview.
“The number, size, and construction make it clear these are for military purposes — and they are the smoking gun that shows China has every intention of militarizing the Spratly Islands.”
Currently the US, with the world’s largest navy, dominates the region; however, that is poised to change as Beijing dramatically expands its naval capabilities.
“At some point, China is likely to, in effect, be able to deny the US Navy unimpeded access to parts of the South China Sea,” writes Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and author of “Asia’s Cauldron.”
And while the US continues to press China on a diplomatic process in the South China Sea, Beijing continues to expand its influence in other parts of the world.
Tags: "Asia's Cauldron", Australia, China, Douglas Schoen, East China Sea, Japan, Korean Peninsula, Melik Kaylan, North Korea, Park Geun-hye, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Philippines, Robert Kaplan, Russia, South China Sea, South Korea, Thaad, The Russia-China Axis, U. S., Vietnam