Admiral John Richardson, the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations, said that “nobody owns” the South China Sea, and I’d say that most reasonable people would agree.
Problem is, reasonable people are in short supply in Beijing.
Richardson told Defense News that any seafaring system needs to be inclusive and should be about providing a level playing field as much as possible.
“[It should be a system] that doesn’t talk in terms of my sea or your sea,” he said.
‘That is everybody’s sea,’ Richardson said, in reference to the South China Sea.
“You know, 30 percent of the world’s trade goes through the South China Sea. Nobody owns that. It’s open. It’s international waters.”
Richardson said such after being asked to comment on what Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, commander of the PLA Navy’s northern fleet, had said at a defense conference in London last month.
“The South China Sea, as the name indicated, is a sea area. It belongs to China,” Yuan said according to Defense One.
Richardson spoke further about Beijing’s assertive position on the South China Sea.
“It’s interesting that some of the folks that are making contrary claims now… are the very nations who prosper the most under the current system of international rules and norms,” Richardson stated.
If you’ve been following what’s been going on in the resource-rich South China Sea, you’d probably be aware that China’s ruling communists pretty much claim most of that vast area as their own.
Communist leader Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing’s claim for most of the South China Sea while in London this month.
“The islands and reefs in the South China Sea are Chinese territory since ancient times. They are left to us by our ancestors,” Xi told Reuters. “The Chinese people will not allow anyone to infringe on China’s sovereignty and related rights and interests in the South China Sea.”
See this episode from China Uncensored about how Beijing vows to never back down with “ancestral” claims to South China Sea:
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have contesting claims in the area, but what the Chinese are doing dwarfs all of their efforts combined.
Most alarming for the other nations in the area, especially The Philippines, are the Chinese dredging and land reclamation activities at three sites in the Spratly archipelago.
The U.S. has just sent the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen into the area to contest Beijing’s territorial claims over the man-made islands, according to Reuters.