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Military

US a 'spoiler' in South China Sea peace

Global Times

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/22 22:48:40

Two US Navy vessels, littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords and the destroyer Wayne E. Meyer, trespassed into the adjacent sea area of the Nansha Islands and the territorial waters of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday and Thursday. The Gabrielle Giffords sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Meiji Reef. The Chinese navy and air force tracked and monitored the two vessels, verified them and warned them to leave.

This is the latest US move to increase military interference and show off its muscle in the South China Sea. It is also part of its continuing provocation against China's sovereignty in the area.

The US military has made two tactical changes. First, this was the first time that a US littoral combat ship carried out such a task. Previously, US warships would pass by the South China Sea to show off their muscle after performing other tasks. But this time, the littoral combat ship may have come just to conduct the mission. Littoral combat ships are more flexible compared to traditional destroyers. Second, the two vessels trespassed into the Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands at the same time. They generally went to one area in the past.

China should deal with the changes with targeted measures.

The two incidents happened when US Defense Secretary Mark Esper's trip to Asia was coming to an end. People generally believe this echoes Esper's provocative statements in Asia. However, comparing US statements on the South China Sea with its actions, people will find them contradictory.

For example, Esper said US freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea have been more frequent in 2019 than at any time in the past 25 years. But the situation in the South China Sea in 2019 has been eased compared to a few years ago. Why have US warships come to the region even more often? Doesn't this prove that Washington is the spoiler of the South China Sea?

During the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting on November 3, all parties felt encouraged by the progress in consultations on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. ASEAN members have expressed many times that they do not want to choose sides between China and the US, and they hope the US can respect China and ASEAN members' joint effort to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. ASEAN members are certainly aware of Washington's real intention of interfering in the region.

Countries in the South China Sea are holding the initiative in their own hands because they have remained clear-headed in their strategy. The US military provocation has not been very effective. Thus, the US changed its strategy.

But sending two warships and trespassing two territorial waters will not change anything as well. No matter how many warships the US sends, will Vietnam, the Philippines or any other country in the area recklessly oppose China? Will it weaken China's control over the relevant islands and reefs? Will it change China's sovereignty in the area? No.

Every time a US warship comes to the South China Sea, the US military will hype it on media. The US Navy may need such ridiculous performances to seek a greater military budget from Congress. But these are destructive in the South China Sea. We should increase the cost of such a performance until it is unbearable for the US.

Spokesperson of the Southern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army warned on Friday that China has urged the US to stop such provocative and risky actions to avoid possible accidents. The US military should carefully think about what "avoid possible accidents" means.



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