China vows to raise defence capabilities after U.S. warship approaches Nansha Islands

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 13, 2017

While in Manila for ASEAN's Foreign Ministers' Meet last weekend, the American, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers called for a complete stoppage to land reclamation and building of military installations in the South China Sea and compliance with the PAC arbitration ruling which declared illegal China's vast ownership claims to the disputed waters.

A U.S. Navy official told The Associated Press that the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed past Mischief Reef on Thursday.

A Chinese defense spokesman said at the time "the parties concerned don't need to overreact and make a great fuss about it".

Beijing slammed Washington for sending a warship to waters adjacent to one of its islands in the South China Sea, saying the action will only prompt Beijing to strengthen its defence. The South China Sea issues were a prominent focus, and the results of these meetings indicated a new low in US diplomatic influence.

Responding to the so-called incursion, China's foreign ministry said it "severely harmed China's sovereignty and security".

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against criticism that it would amplify China's growing influence, he said it will act as a logistics centre and support anti- piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and worldwide law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security. Despite the 65 year-old U.S. -Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the Philippines was not sure Washington would back it militarily in a conflict with China.

Clearly, no country attracts more attention than China in the South China Sea disputes due to a number of reasons, including its expansive claims, use of force over the islands in the past, and its growing naval capabilities.

"As you all know, United States forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region".

A dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea continues to boil between the two Asian giants.

This decision came after the China-ASEAN Framework for the South China Sea's code of conduct was initiated. China has not recognized the ruling.

Powerhouse China has the biggest claim by far.

When questioned about the operation at a Malacañang press briefing today (Friday, August 11), presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government did not object to the U.S. destroyer's operation.

"Even though Singapore is not a direct claimant, it has interests in the South China Sea", said Kang Lin, a researcher with the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

More significantly, the latest United States naval patrol comes days after a meeting of China and ASEAN foreign ministers in the Philippines had agreed a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea which is contested by multiple claimants including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

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