06:52 GMT +319 October 2017
Live
    Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, photographed by a USN surveillance aircraft in 2015.

    South China Sea Military Build Up Could Escalate US-China Tensions

    © REUTERS/ U.S. Navy/Handout
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL
    72352217

    A new report suggests that China has dedicated significant effort to militarizing outposts in the South China Sea, but the US remains ready to respond to further “aggressive” behavior.

    Newly-surfaced images show a buildup of multiple defense bases in the Spratly islands, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, although China has promised not to install weapons on the artificial islands. Regardless of how China develops its regional bases, "we will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally," Admiral Harry Harris of the US Pacific Command fleet said during a speech in Sydney.

    The new Chinese fortifications feature anti-aircraft guns thought to be a defense against cruise missiles, while China insists they are minimum defensive requirements, not part of a scheme to project power.

    Still, the US has high hopes to continue collaborating with China and others in the region, as $5 trillion worth of goods transit the maritime area annually. Beijing hopes the US will keep its promise to not take sides, allowing regional partners "to maintain peace and stability," according to Chinese Foreign Minister Geng Shuang.

    In October, the US sent a warship through the South China Sea, the fourth operation of its kind calling it a "freedom of navigation" patrol near the land reclamation projects. And this week, China retaliated by flying a nuclear bomber over the South China Sea, presumably a demonstration of its military prowess toward the new US President who will be sworn in January.

    US President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on taking a tougher economic stance with China, but his appointment of Terry Branstad to be the US Ambassador to China, a long-time friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping, suggests that stable relations will continue.

    Related:

    An Earnest Mistake? WH Spokesman Blames China for Meddling in US Election
    Beijing Welcomes Appointment of Xi Jinping's Friend as US Ambassador to China
    No, Trump Meeting With the Dalai Lama Wouldn't Actually Break US-China Relations
    US Urges China to Further Open Economy to Encourage Business Growth
    Philippines Ready to Cooperate With Russia, China Amid Rift in Relations With US
    Tags:
    militarization, trade, Donald Trump, South China Sea, China
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment