On Thursday, Beijing’s Defense Ministry issued a veiled warning to the US, regarding naval activity in the South China Sea and a newly signed agreement between the US and the Philippines: "be careful."
Tensions have risen between the US and China in recent months. There have been disputes over China’s handling of the North Korean sanctions regime, with American officials arguing that Beijing failed to implement the agreed-upon measures fully, and posturing by both sides regarding the long simmering dispute over territories in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, the Philippines agreed to provide US forces access to five military bases, including some in the disputed South China Sea territories, at a time when China has moved to claim these territories by introducing military construction and civilian travel to several of the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Growing tensions between Beijing and Washington date to October 2015, when the US carried out the first of two recent high-profile "freedom of navigation" operations, in which US warships sailed within 12 nautical miles of islets in the South China Sea claimed by China.
When questioned about these recent US naval operations, Yang Yujan, the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said, "As for the US ships which came, I can only suggest they be careful."
The US has countered that the naval operations are necessary to maintain a balancing presence in the region, accusing China of having dispatched ballistic missiles to the disputed islands in an effort to militarize the area.
Yang says that the United States is guilty of imperialism and militarism in the region, not China. "The United States has come back and is reinforcing its military presence in this region and promoting militarization in the South China Sea," he stated.
As relations continue to deteriorate between the countries, America’s Cold War revivalists are preparing to add China to their adversary list.