US Navy Flexes Its Power Near Militarized South China Sea Island
The US Navy has just sent two of its warships past a militarized South China Sea island, as tension between the US and China continues to increase. This was a clear indication that the US is highly committed to ensuring that its freedom and safety on the high seas are not compromised by China’s claims to control the region’s waters. According to the US Navy, the operation was conducted to stress the US’s commitment to freedom of navigation rights and the rule of law.
The Details of the Operation
The operation, which took place on Monday, Sept 21, saw the US Navy’s destroyer, the USS Mustin, and cruiser, the USS Gabrielle Giffords pass the Particular Administrative Region of China’s disputed island of Woody Island, which is part of the Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea. The ships sailed within 12 miles of the island, which is believed to have defense capabilities including anti-aircraft guns and missile defense systems. The US has long opposed China’s territorial claims, which it argues are excessive and violate international law.
The Tension Between The Two Nations
China has been militarizing topographical formations in the SCS, transforming them into man-made islands capable of accommodating its military facilities. Military experts have warned that the weapons deployed in these areas could lead to potential confrontations given their proximity to each other. The situation has escalated into an almost open confrontation between the US and China. Meanwhile, the Chinese army has just concluded the construction of an airfield and helipads capable of housing fighter jets in Pangasinan province of northern Philippines, which has been seen as a maneuver to increase China’s strategic position in the region, worrying the US and the wider international community.
The Importance of Freedom of Navigation
The US operation is significant because it underscores Washington’s view that countries are entitled to freedom of navigation in the SCS, a view that China sharply opposes. In recent years, China has been building military outposts on artificial islands throughout the sea, alarming its neighbors and drawing condemnation from the US. The Chinese foreign ministry has since responded to the latest US move stating that China will firmly defend its sovereignty and security interests.
The Future of South China Sea
With the US-China relations at a low point, the likelihood of further confrontations in the waters of the South China Sea is high. China has adamantly claimed that it will defend its sovereignty over the disputed parts of the SCS, while the US has made it clear that it will continue to assert its rights to operate in these waters. The South China Sea may prove to be the flashpoint for tensions between the US and China, in which case the region becomes a potential cause of regional instability.
The recent passage of the US Navy warships through the disputed South China Sea sends a clear message that the US is committed to upholding freedom of navigation and international law. The US move is significant because it demonstrates that China’s attempts to control the region’s waters will not be accepted by the US. With tensions at a high point, the situation could escalate into further confrontation in the waters. #NEWS