Posts Tagged ‘US strategy in the South China sea’

South China Sea is An Area of U.S. National Interest

March 22, 2015

By Jose Katigbak, The STAR Washington bureau | Philippine Star 

WASHINGTON – The US has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea and has consistently and frequently raised with China its concerns over large-scale Chinese sea reclamations, the US State Department said.

“The United States continues to take additional concrete steps to support peace and stability in the South China Sea and we are frank in expressing our concerns about problematic behavior,” the department’s press office director Jeff Rathke said.

Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Recent photographs of the reefs and islands in the South China Sea show extensive Chinese construction. Ownership of the islands is a matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague, The Netherlands

He confirmed a letter was received by the State Department on Thursday from leading US senators regarding China’s land reclamation activities and a response to it was being prepared.

Asked at a press conference if he agreed with the letter’s claim that China has been using non-military methods of coercion to enforce its disputed claims in the South China Sea, he said “that might not be the word we would use, but we’ve said that these actions are destabilizing.”

Republican Sens. John McCain and Bob Corker and Democrats Jack Reed and Bob Menendez in their letter said a formal US strategy was needed to halt land reclamation.

They said China’s land reclamation and construction in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago gave it the potential to expand its military reach and was “a direct challenge, not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community.”

“While other states have built on existing land masses, China is changing the size, structure and physical attributes of land features themselves,” the letter said. “This is a qualitative change that appears designed to alter the status quo in the South China Sea.”

Related:

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Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Warships from China are frequently seen near the disputed islands.

(Contains links to several related articles)

Reclamation: China has already turned a worthless piece of coral into an island big enough for an airstrip at Fiery Cross reef in the South China Sea

Screenshot of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese vessel in May 2014

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

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