03:40 GMT +309 December 2019
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    Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, in this file still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and provided by the United States Navy on May 21, 2015

    Crying Wolf in South China Sea: US Beating Drums Over Chinese 'Threat'

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    While Washington speculates about the possible future militarization of China's artificial islands, Beijing is calling upon the US to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill.

    The Pentagon continues to warn the White House about Russia and China's phantom menaces, at the same time asserting the American taxpayers that the Hidden Dragon and the Crouching Bear pose a substantial threat to US security.

    "It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes." Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia in the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), insists.

    It remains unclear though, why Glaser jumped to such a conclusion since Beijing has repeatedly stressed that its construction efforts are aimed at improving the country's maritime search and rescue capability in order to help other nations.

    "Under international maritime conventions, China has responsibilities to perform rescue operations in the South China Sea… So it is very necessary to construct or upgrade infrastructure on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, as we can then send rescue ships and planes there in case of emergency," Yin Zhuo, Director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the People's Liberation Army Navy, told Chinese journalists.

    In his turn Admiral Wu Shengli asserted in an official statement that China's construction work in the South China Sea will not threaten freedom of navigation and overflights.

    However, Glaser believes that China will equip the outposts in the Spratly Island chain with radars and surveillance equipment and deploy there its fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), airborne early warning and control aircraft, anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles.

    Furthermore, the American adviser insisted that China may also declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) "over part or all of the area within its nine-dashed line claim."

    Glaser provided no evidence to confirm her statements. She used the modal verb "could," saying that Beijing "could" militarize its artificial islands, but obviously failed to prove that they "would" do this.

    "Calls for China to halt its artificial island building in the Spratlys have not been heeded… However, there is still a possibility to put a cap on militarization of the islands by China and the other claimants. The deployment of offensive power projection capabilities by any claimant would be dangerous and destabilizing," Glaser warned, referring to some "growing uncertainty" prompted by China's artificial island building and suggesting that Beijing may violate freedom of navigation in the region.

    It is worth mentioning that Glaser's position is reflecting Washington's stance regarding the issue.

    In its turn, China's Defense Ministry has openly criticized Washington for "making irresponsible remarks on the South China Sea issue" and accused the US of "activities to militarize the South China Sea region."

    Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun has lambasted the US for its blatant double standard approach.

    "The US side has remained silent on the massive construction activities conducted by some countries such as the Philippines on the illegally occupied Chinese islands and reefs, in addition the US has made irresponsible accusations against China on the legal activities of China on its own territory," Senior Colonel Yang Yujun told journalists during an official press conference, adding that "the US side has been sending ships and planes to conduct frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China in the South China Sea region."

    "The US side disregards and distorts the fact, and plays up 'China's military threat' to sow discords between China and China's maritime neighbors in the South China Sea. We firmly oppose such actions," Senior Colonel Yang Yujun stressed.


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    Militarization, missiles, fighter jets, confrontation, artificial island, military, Pentagon, People's Liberation Army, United States, South China Sea, China
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