Much of the world is familiar with China’s illegal claims to many of the islands in the South China Sea. These islands have long been a source of dispute between China and the Philippines with the United States States offering support for its Filipino allies.
While the dispute continues long after the international ruling bodies of the Hague disavowed China’s claim, tensions have been running high between the world’s two biggest military powers, China and the US.
This past week, a US Naval destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of the contested islands. After placing air navigation and weaponry on several of the islands, China has been increasingly more sensitive about intruders on territory they assert is theirs. With the US Navy running routine exercises in the area, tensions are on the rise again.
Triton Island was the target of the US Navy’s routine right of passage exercise. China, Vietnam and Taiwan have all laid claim to this particular island. According to a Navy representative, who asked to remain anonymous, these passage exercises are used to make clear that no one has the right to request prior notice before a ship of any kind is allowed to freely pass through the area.
In a written statement issue by China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, he stated, the U.S. action constituted “a serious political and military provocation.” He further asserted that such operations “violate China’s sovereignty and threaten China’s security. The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security.”
In the coming months, more of these types of confrontations should be expected. The Chinese government has made clear its decision to ignore the ruling set down by the Hague while the United States and other Asian countries have made clear their intention to continue using the South China Sea passage way as they see fit.