Chinese Protest Deployment of U.S. Warships

South China Sea
Stock Photo

Published Oct 9, 2015 7:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

Beijing has warned the U.S. after announcing it would deploy warships in the South China Sea and close to the artificial islands recently built by the Chinese.

China and its South China Sea neighbors have disputing maritime territorial boundaries, in which China has been called an aggressor. Meanwhile, the U.S. says it does not acknowledge a lot of China’s maritime claims and navy will be operating in international waters.

The U.S. has recently participated in a number of military exercises in the South China Sea with a number of its allies this year, but Beijing has been vocal about what it calls the militarization by the U.S. of the region. Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have all called for the Chinese to cease construction of artificial islands, which includes reclamation projects and offshore platforms in the South China Sea.

In August, the Japanese released 14 photos pinpointing 16 offshore construction projects located in disputed maritime territories between the Chinese and Japanese shorelines. While the structures appear to be in China’s territories, Japan raised concerns that the platforms could possibly serve as auxiliary military bases. The Chinese say the facilities are simply to be used natural gas production.

While the Chinese have said it will cease the reclamation projects, Japan pointed out that this was likely because the projects had been completed.

Last month, the U.S. released a report that Chinese are continuing to dredge in the Spratley archipelago. But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the construction work was needed to improve conditions on the island.

“The Nansha islands are China's territory. In this regard, China possesses ample historical and legal basis,” Wang said, using the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands.

The U.S. and its allies have speculated that China could swiftly militarize these islands, though Beijing says it has no intention to do so. However, the U.S. reports that at least one of Chinese islands have already been outfitted with a hanger for fighter aircrafts.

Additionally, Chinese fishing vessels are continuing to press the outer boundaries of its territorial claims. And those vessels often clashed with Vietnamese and Filipino fishing boats in the region.

Ramping Up Funding

The U.S. announced this week that it was increasing funding for maritime law enforcement for Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. The U.S. said it will contribute more than $100 million per year for maritime enforcement in Southeast Asia. The U.S previously spent about $25 million in the region.

Last month, Japan promised warships and a $1.7 billion donation to Vietnam to strengthen its maritime forces.

While not specifically naming China, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cited stability-threatening, large-scale land reclamation projects and the building of outposts as the primary motivators for the donations.