Unfazed by rising global criticism, China's navy, coast guard and paramilitary fleet has rammed fishing boats, harassed oil exploration vessels, held combat drills and shadowed U.S. naval patrols. The escalating show of force has overwhelmed smaller Southeast Asian states that also claim parts of the sea, one of the world's busiest fishing and trade corridors and a repository of untapped oil and natural gas.
Beijing's maritime expansionism illustrates not only the Chinese Communist Party's growing military might, but also its willingness to defy neighbors and international laws to fulfill President Xi Jinping's sweeping visions of power.
In its strategic quest to dominate the waterway separating the Asian mainland from the island of Borneo and the Philippine archipelago, China has built military outposts on disputed islands and reefs that, according to Xi, "are Chinese territory since ancient times ... left to us by our ancestors." The network of bases, harbors and landing strips deep in international waters has created a buffer for China's southern coastline, further encircled Taiwan and challenged the Pentagon's ability to move ships into Asia.
"It appears that China is rapidly developing the capabilities to exclude other navies from the South China Sea," Bill Hayton, an author and associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank, told a congressional commission in September.
Read the whole thing.
Anyone who asserts China is a benign power is dangerously wrong. Its leadership will push and push and push because they know that no major power wants to go to war to fight for Vietnamese fishermen or the other hundreds of harassing events that occur daily in the South China Sea.
Like the fable of boiling frogs by turning up the heat incrementally, China's way is to slowly rachet thing up until they have reached their goal, each click of the rachet designed to not be enought too provoke war, but eventully gaining China's dominance in the region.See also Oriana Skylar Mastro's Beijing’s line on the South China Sea: “Nothing to see here” about China's bold face lying:
The rest of the piece destroys that "misunderstanding" allegation quite thoroughly.
China’s strategy in responding to concerns about its intentions in the South China Sea is to claim that none of the activities, statements or behaviours that concern other countries are actually happening.
China claims it has not militarised the South China Sea, but that the United States “is the real pusher of militarisation” in these waters. Its leaders often argue that China is a peace-loving country only interested in defending itself. As the China’s General Wei Fenghe stated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018, “China has never provoked a war or conflict, nor has it ever invaded another country or taken an inch of land from others. In the future, no matter how strong it becomes, China shall never threaten anyone.”
China has similarly brushed off concerns of other claimants, such as Vietnam, about its intensifying military exercises in the South China Sea and largely ignored Australia’s assertion at the United Nations that China’s claims have no legal backing.
So apparently it is all one big misunderstanding.