16:53 GMT +316 December 2019
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    US Navy amphibious assault vehicles with Philippine and US troops on board maneuver in the waters during a combined exercise in the South China Sea.

    US Rhetoric Over South China Sea Militarization Far From Reality

    © AP Photo / Bullit Marquez
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    On November 21, during the East Asia Summit, President Barack Obama addressed the South China Sea dispute and appealed to the region’s leaders saying that “for the sake of regional stability, the claimants should halt reclamation, construction and militarization in disputed areas.”

    Obama and his Defense Secretary Ashton Carter have repeatedly warned China not to militarize the Spratly islands in the South China Sea but China has retorted such claims stating that it is the United States that is militarizing the region.

    Guided missile destroyer USS Lassen arrives at the Shanghai International Passenger Quay in Shanghai, China
    © AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko, File
    Following these accusations, Mark J. Valencia in his article for the publication The Diplomat, looked at the broader term of militarization noting that the term which means “to give a military character to or to adapt for military use” suggests that the claimants to and occupiers of  Spratly features – China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam – “militarized them” years ago.

    “Indeed, all have stationed military personnel there and built airstrips and harbors that can and have accommodated military aircraft and vessels,” wrote Valencia.

    So it seems that the US has such rhetoric only towards China and accuses it of militarization without specifying what does that mean exactly?

    Besides, the US – unlike China – already has military “places” if not bases in Southeast Asia, in its military allies the Philippines and Thailand, and more recently in Malaysia and Singapore for its Poseidon sub-hunters and electronic warfare platforms.

    The author asks what is China doing that has the US so agitated and apparently willing to face another military conflict in Asia.

    China has built new features in the area and constructed airstrips and ports that can accommodate military aircraft and naval vessels. It does not deny that its military will use the facilities on the features it has built upon.

    “Japan who is US ally can deploy troops and missile to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyutai area if it does that is it militarizing the East China Sea?” Valencia wrote.

    Perhaps the US is only “crying wolf” to scare the Southeast Asian countries into its political and military embrace. If so, this is a dangerous tactic.

    The author wrote that what is clear is that ‘militarization’ means different things to different nations. Countries that accuse others of it should define specifically what they mean. The US should specify what it is that China is doing.

    “Or is it like China’s “reclamation” and construction activities: only a matter of degree and of concern basically because it is China that is doing it?” concluded the author.

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    Tags:
    disputed islands, land reclamation, conflict, rhetoric, military, The Diplomat, China, South China Sea, United States
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