On Oct. 20, President Barack Obama authorized the US Pacific Command to send warships into the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China. On Tuesday, the destroyer USS Lassen “conducted a transit” within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly archipelago. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was also sent to monitor the mission.
US officials noted that the US vessel would have been in an area considered Chinese sovereign territory if the US recognized the islands as belonging to China.
China strongly objected the US actions, with the Chinese foreign ministry, foreign minister Wang Yi, the Chinese embassy in Washington, and the country’s official Xinhua news agency all condemning the move.
Before the ship sailed near Subi reef, Wang Yi warned, “We advise the US to think again and before acting, not act blindly or make trouble out of nothing.”
As in the past, the Pentagon declared that the South China Sea operation is not targeted at China, but also noted that it would not be a one-off occurrence.
It is clear that idle threats are no longer sufficient to detract the US from conducting such activities in the South China Sea, Duowei said, meaning that Beijing must take concrete measures, which might result in minor standoffs or even potential collisions. The fact that three Chinese warships are heading to the US Naval Station Mayport in Florida from Nov. 3-7 for a visit and to conduct joint exercises will have little effect on tensions in the South China Sea, Duowei added.
With the US showing no signs of pulling back from sending warships through the South China Sea and no realistic chance of a military conflict over the issue, Duowei said, it is perhaps time for Beijing to start thinking about a change in policy. What this new direction will entail will be a major challenge for Chinese leaders, Duowei added.
Instead, the US has kept to a restriction of 12 nautical miles from islands and reefs claimed by China in the region. The significance of that distance stems from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which generally grants coastal states jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles of territorial sea emanating from the coast. The legal significance of such a restriction is murky because the US Senate has never ratified UNCLOS.
Full article: US move may force Beijing to change S China Sea strategy: Duowei (Want China Times)