U.S. to Step Up to Beijing’s Power-Play in the South China Sea

It’s been coming for a while and now the U.S. says it’s considering sending its Navy to deter Beijing’s reclamation projects in the South China Sea.

As explored in the above video, the Chinese have been busy over the past 3 year’s expanding their construction on reefs in waters that are contested by several nations.

The most disputed of them all is Beijing’s rapid construction on reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes and Beijing is claiming much of it as its own.

Beijing’s claims flout international law.

“We must push back on problematic behavior,” says Daniel Russel, the Assistant Sectary of State at the U.S. Department of State, in reference to Beijing’s building of artificial islands in the above video.

Daniel Russel, the Assistant Sectary of State at the U.S. Department of State. (Image: YouTube)

Daniel Russel, the Assistant Sectary of State at the U.S. Department of State. (Image: YouTube)

He and another U.S. Department of State official told U.S. lawmakers that America would maintain military superiority in the region.

“Our strategy and actions are designed to protect rules, not protect rocks,” Russel said.

Either way, officials say they are considering sending the U.S. Navy to assert freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and directly challenge Beijing’s actions in the disputed territorial waters.

“Clearly, these reclamation projects have made Washington wake up to the South China Sea issue,” said Ian Storey, senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, to the Australian Financial Review.

“Right now, U.S. officials are debating how they can respond. The U.S. doesn’t have many options without appearing to escalate the situation.

“They have called on China to stop the reclamation projects, but China won’t pay heed to these calls, so U.S. credibility is on the line here,” Storey said.

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto)

The littoral combat ship U.S.S Fort Worth conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto)

This week, a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the U.S.S. Fort Worth (pictured above) patrolled in the contested area, says the U.S. Navy.

Fort Worth encountered multiple People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] warships,” said the Navy’s website, which added that any interaction with the Chinese vessels remained professional.

According to the Financial Review, there were several media reports in China that suggested the Chinese Navy had “monitored” and “followed” Fort Worth as it left the area.

John Kerry in Beijing

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Beijing this weekend, and he said he will leave the Chinese leadership “in absolutely no doubt” about America’s commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea. See the video below for more on that:

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