South China Sea Nations Clash Over Maritime Territories

Subic Bay
Subic Bay

By The Maritime Executive 08-17-2015 03:57:47

China claims that it is a sovereign nation and  that the U.S. has no right to patrol near its territorial waters. The U.S. insists that it is simply protecting its Allies interests in Asia.

Meanwhile, tensions and maritime territorial disputes are mounting in the South China Sea. But, Beijing has been downplaying its neighbors concerns. In the August 6 meeting of China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that all is well in the region and any issues should be resolved without outside interference.

Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have been the most vocal as China has constructed offshore platforms, conducted air drills and reclamation projects in the region.

On August 3, the Japanese government released 14 photos of newly constructed offshore platforms by the Chinese. The photos identified 16 locations where China erected platforms in the disputed maritime territories.

For more information, you can read MarEx’s report here.

During the China-ASEAN meeting, the ministers stressed all parties should exercise constraint and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

China’s primary issue is that the U.S. has conducted drills in the region and claims the U.S. is trying to militarize the region.

Wang says there is no possibility of conflict in the region and any unrest is due to the media’s portrayal of the situation. He also outlined China’s historical claims to the South China Sea islands and ridiculed Japan and the Philippines for creating discord.

Wang refuted claims that China restricts navigation and overflights in the South China Sea. He states that China has now ceased its reclamations projects. But, other nations say it is only because China completed its offshore platforms. 

Japan has recently joined the U.S. in military exercises off the coast of the Philippines. On August 14, a Japanese Navy replenishment ship was in Subic Bay to refuel a U.S. Navy floating hospital. Subic Bay is a former U.S. military installation. This is the first time ever that the Japanese were involved in military exercise.

The military exercise was ongoing trilateral engagement between the U.S., Japan and the Philippines. U.S. Navy officials said that the Japanese are interested in conducting future exercises with the Philippines.