Friday, June 10, 2016

South China Sea Set to Boil: Analysts

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The United States and China are each promoting a distinctly different view of the regional situation in the South China Sea. The United States continues to reiterate the need for regional stability, while China fundamentally perceives the South China Sea as a matter of its territorial sovereignty. Beijing emphasizes that, in its view, it is the United States that is destabilizing the region, by encouraging China’s neighbors to pursue territorial claims against it.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to issue its findings in the case brought by the Philippines against China regarding activities in the South China Sea within weeks. China refused to participate in the arbitration case.
It is feared that China may soon declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Beijing that this would be a “provocative and destabilizing act.” While various states, including the U.S., have established ADIZs, China’s air defense identification zone includes a demand that foreign military aircraft file flight plans if they will enter the ADIZ, whether they are bound for Chinese destinations or not.

This position parallels China’s view of the South China Sea, i.e., foreign military vessels may transit, but must report their presence to China in advance. A South China Sea ADIZ would reinforce China’s claim that the region is Chinese territory.

Secretary of State John Kerry

Chinese control of the Paracels, the Spratlys, and Scarborough Shoal creates a triangle from which Chinese aircraft would dominate the South China Sea.
The Navy's top officer, Adm. John Richardson made a trip to the world's most contested waters last weekend, stopping aboard the carrier John C. Stennis. The Stennis has essentially moved into the South China Sea, in a not-so-subtle message to China that the U.S. is going be present in what China claims as their waters.
Adm. John Richardson