China, through its state-run media mouthpiece Global Times, issued a threat to the U.S. by calling on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy to move warships into American territorial waters. The media outlet made the suggestion on Sept. 8 in response to the “naked provocation” of a U.S. Navy destroyer traversing within 12 miles of a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea.
The Chinese government mouthpiece stated that “only by making the U.S. have a taste of its own medicine can we touch the nerves of the U.S. and its allies, and reshape the Western world’s understanding of U.S. bullying in the South China Sea.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the statement made by Global Times represents a credible threat that needs to be taken seriously. The Global Times is run by Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi.
The media outlet states that the Global Times’ claim of China having authority over the South China Sea is “geographically absurd and politically imperialist.” China’s agenda for escalating military pressure over the South China Sea is two-fold.
First, Beijing hopes to bring the South China Sea completely under its authority so that it has unilateral access to the region’s marine resources. Second, controlling the South China Sea will give China the power to glean political concessions from other countries in return for their access to the sea route. China’s annual trade flows through the region are worth around four trillion dollars.
In July, China had warned the UK’s Carrier Strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, to refrain from carrying out any kind of “improper acts” upon entering the South China Sea. At the time, Global Times had stated that “the People’s Liberation Army Navy is at a high state of combat readiness.”
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have stood firm, countering China’s provocations in the South China Sea with U.S. naval actions. The most recent example was the U.S. Navy Destroyer’s presence near the Chinese artificial island.
U.S. allies in Europe are apparently not ready to conduct U.S.-style transits that upset China. However, countries in the Eastern hemisphere like India, Japan, Australia, and Vietnam are increasingly aligning with America to challenge Beijing.