Maritime Dispute Heats Up with China
The Japanese government has released 14 photos of Chinese offshore platforms in the South China Sea. The move highlights Japan’s concerns about what it sees as China’s aggressiveness in the region.
The photos pinpoint 16 offshore construction projects located in disputed maritime territories near the median line between the Chinese and Japanese shorelines. The new structures are on China’s side of the line, but Japan’s primary concern is that these platforms could serve as auxiliary military bases near its littoral nations.
The Chinese assert that the majority these new facilities will be used for drilling, processing and storing natural gases, but Japan says the structures can easily be fashioned with air defense radar systems and heliports.
The Chinese have secured several territories in the East and South China Seas despite sovereignty claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
China is also conducting coral reef restoration projects in disputed areas. Beijing says its residents are facing danger from land subsidence due to rising sea levels and are investing heavily in radar stations, underwater surveillance, tsunami warning and satellite operations systems in the East and South China Seas.
China has also announced the creation of a new South China Sea fishing fleet for its military militia, another move that could intensify regional disputes.
Many of the countries challenging China’s new structures are U.S. allies. The U.S. government has staged patrols and military drills in disputed areas recently in response to growing concerns that China is unilaterally claiming these maritime territories. Meanwhile, Beijing has been vocal about U.S. military presence in the areas and accuses the U.S. of militarizing the region.
China also claims that the U.S. is distorting facts in order to create discord between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea.