U.S. Apparently Abandoning Pacific Friends, Caving in to ChinaJan 6 2016
When Beijing lodged a complaint about a B-52 flying within two miles of an artificial island in the South China Sea built by China, the Obama administration's meek response signaled that we've acceded to their
takeover of disputed islands, rocks, and reefs in the Spratly chain never mind that they are in international waters.
Cuarteron is a reef to which China has added 57 acres of dredged sea bottom to form an island that it then equipped with two helipads, possible gun or missile emplacements, and two possible radar towers, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. China has similarly upgraded outcroppings in the Spratlys that surround Cuarteron, paving one of them called Fiery Cross Reef with a 10,000 foot airstrip that can handle the largest of aircraft, and has now completed a second airstrip on Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands chain. China is thus forcibly claiming as its own islands and reefs long claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, all of which are closer to the land groups than China. Now far stronger than any of its neighbors, Beijing has simply elbowed them aside. At the New Year's beginning, they landed the first plane on Fiery Cross.
International law permits a country to declare 12 miles beyond its land mass as off-limits to ships or aircraft without permission. So when Washington says about its 2-mile close flyby that "the Chinese have raised concerns with us" and "we're looking into the matter" of why the B-52 came so near; when it speculates that bad weather must have caused the pilot to fly off course; when it does not deny there could be disciplinary action against the pilots it's as good as recognizing China's claim that a reef 620 miles from the Chinese mainland is now their "indisputable" sovereign territory, as it is claiming for all the other outcrops.
Whereas Vietnam has lodged a formal protest with China over the plane's landing, the U.S. is urging countries in the zone to "actively reduce tensions" rather than lodge protests of its own. The Obama administration, anxious to avoid any conflict, appears to have buckled.
The administration may have rolled over, but not one of its admirals. In December, Adm. Scott Swift, speaking in Hawaii, gave warning of China's "so-called military zones", saying that security in the area is eroding, that the Chinese are ordering commercial shipping to steer clear of their outposts, that the fishing vessels from the surrounding countries are being threatened.
China is taking advantage of the U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East to build a navy to rival ours as part of a master plan to take control of the western Pacific and drive out the U.S. They have just acknowledged that they are building their second aircraft carrier. This looming threat has been covered here recently in a four-part series meant to create awareness of what Americans are barely conscious of. Their titles (which link to the articles) are: "War with China. Is it already Here?", "Don't Believe China Is Looking for a Fight?", "China’s Master Plan: Drive Us Out of Their Pacific", and " China's Military Buildup: It's Aimed at Us".
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