Beijing’s South China Sea claims are equal to India one day declaring: “We now own the whole of the Indian Ocean.” In a nutshell, that’s how outlandish Beijing’s assertions are.
The absurdity of the Chinese Communist Party’s claims can be further seen below. The red dots are based on a 1947 map, which has become known as the “nine-dash line,” and they indicate the extent of what Beijing claims as its territory.
If you can make out the Spratly Islands, you’ll see they’re a lot closer to both the Philippines and Malaysia, and even Vietnam. These are territorial claims that are over a 1,000 miles away from China’s shores.
Beijing says their claims are based on historical evidence, a point that no one else agrees on. Nevertheless, it’s a nationalistic narrative that the Chinese Communist Party has been force feeding the people of China for decades.
The South China Sea is also an incredibly important trade route, and it’s rich in natural resources.
“This is an important body of water because more than half of the world’s seaborne commerce goes through the South China Sea, that’s like five trillion dollars a year,” says Asia analyst and author Gordon Chang in the featured video above.
Over the past several years, the Chinese military have been busy turning reefs and rocky outcrops into islands that are capable of being militarized. For a short report on the scale of what the Chinese have been doing, see this report from March below:
In the past year, reclamation and construction efforts have intensified.
“China is trying to close off the international waters of the South China Sea and seize the islands there, and we can’t allow that to stand because if we do, we send a signal to every other aggressor in the world, so we should think of the South China Sea really as Asia’s Crimea,” Chang says.
Recently, the Chinese Navy warned off a U.S. spy plane flying in international air space near the Spratly Island chain. See a video report on that below:
A few days later, a state run newspaper in China said that if the U.S. didn’t back down, the result would be war.
Despite the dangers, the U.S. now plans to send more ships and aircraft to the contested area. Chang says China’s actions and stance needs to be challenged.
“Right now, we have a dangerous dynamic; the Chinese don’t believe us. In the past, they would do something provocative, we would issue a warning and then we would do nothing… But right now, we have no choice but to defend our allies and our own interests in the region,” he says.
“Democracies always try to avoid conflict, and aggressors know that so they always push us,” Chang says.
“Sometimes they push us too far, and I think that what has happened right now is that China has pushed its neighbors and the United Sates too far.”