South China Sea: US, China Mounting War Rhetoric Continues

© AP Photo / Zha ChunmingTwo warships of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy fire missiles during a competitive training.
Two warships of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy fire missiles during a competitive training. - Sputnik International
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For months, Beijing and Washington relations have been leading to a tipping point over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Beijing vowed a resolute response to any intended provocation after the USS destroyer Lassen "illegally" entered the waters of the South China Sea near disputed islands.

"China strongly urges the U.S. side to conscientiously handle China's serious representations, immediately correct its mistake and not take any dangerous or provocative acts that threaten China's sovereignty and security interests," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The US sent guide-missile destroyer USS Lassen to pass some 12 nautical miles from Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands on Tuesday morning.

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still file image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy - Sputnik International
US Navy to Send Warship to South China Sea Within 24 Hours
The Pentagon said that the US ships and aircraft will travel along any routes permitted by international law at any time and informed regional allies that it will soon conduct patrols near Chinese positions.

The maritime disputes carry a special significance in Asia. Unlike in Europe, water is the organizing component of the continent. Ownership of a particular island, reef or rock, and the right to name a body of water is more than a question of sentimentality — it is the foundation of many national policy strategies, the website Stratfor reported.

“Securing the right to patrol, build bases and regulate trade through these waterways can mean access to resources critical to sustaining economic growth and political stability,” the publication noted.

China and the US have different national and regional strategies. China portrays the South China Sea dispute as essentially a question of sovereignty. The United States, however, emphases concerns about freedom of navigation.

The U.S. Navy warship USS John McCain, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer. - Sputnik International
Beijing Slams Washington's Plans for 'Incursion' Into South China Sea
“A core but often unstated component of US national strategy is to maintain global superiority at sea. By controlling the seas, the United States is able to guarantee the secure movement of US goods and to deploy military power worldwide,” Stratfor reported.

In China's near seas, the US global strategy comes into conflict with China's regional needs. Since the early 1980s, China has become a major exporter. Due to that Beijing had to reassess its maritime risks and vulnerabilities.

“China is no longer able to protect its national economy without securing the maritime routes it needs to maintain trade and to feed its industrial plant.”

Japan has its own concerns about South China Sea claims. As an island nation with few natural resources, Japan’s economic lifelines can only pass through the seas — it has no land options.

China’s expansion of activity in the waters, following its firm activities in the East China Sea, have made it clear to Tokyo that there has been a real change in the Asia-Pacific and that Japan needs to secure its interests.

“While China has suggested it may accept continued US patrols, it has also asserted that it absolutely cannot accept any role for Japan in the South China Sea, arguing that Japan has no legitimate claims or interests in the waters.”

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