China and US Butt Heads Over Vessel in South China Sea

( – The People’s Republic of China (PRC/Communist) takes a view of what constitutes their sovereign territory that not many others agree with, where “not many others” really means pretty much no one at all. In late August, it published what it calls its “standard map” showing what it considers to be its national borders, including the overwhelmingly vast majority of the South China Sea. This has caused a new conflict with the United States.

China Claims Water Rights It Doesn’t Have

In a press release dated November 27 from the United States Navy Pacific Fleet command, two days prior, the USS Hooper (DDG 70) was dispatched on a Freedom of Navigation operation near the Paracel Islands in the region. These are a group of atolls and reefs located just over 200 miles southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan, and roughly the same distance northeast of the Vietnamese coastline, both countries lay claim to them.

Where the Americans say the Hooper’s maneuver was consistent with international laws, the PRC and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through their media source Global Times put an entirely different spin on it. They quoted People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel Tian Junli (spokesman for the Southern Theater Command) as saying that the Hooper “illegally entered China’s territorial waters off the” islands and that their naval and air force eventually expelled the US [sic] warship in accordance with the law and regulations.”

Tian went on to say that by sending the Hooper into the area, the United States “marked another solid proof of the US’ navigation hegemony and militarization” in the South China Sea. Continuing that it should be all the evidence the world needs to see that they are “the biggest destroyer of peace and stability in the region.” The PRC mouthpiece also complained about recent joint maneuvers by the Philippines and Australia in what they obviously consider their own backyard playground.

China Wants More Than Water

The PRC continues to claim sovereignty over the South China Sea, and they also continue to build military bases and artificial islands within it despite a 2016 ruling against them from the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The body currently has 122 “contracting parties” which include China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the United States.

China’s standard map, sometimes called the nine-dash line, not only ratcheted up tensions in the South China Sea, but it also staked their claim to disputed territories through fait accompli. On their border with India, the map now shows the provinces of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territory; while in the north, they essentially negated a 2008 treaty with Russia that divided control of Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island between the two countries, now claiming it all for themselves.

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