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It’s the U.S. versus China in the South China Sea

Nov. 3, 2015 (EIRNS)—The United States under Barack Obama is blatantly planning more provocations in the South China Sea like the one, last week, in which the destroyer USS Lassen sailed inside the 12-mile limit of territorial waters of an island over which China claims sovereignty. An unnamed U.S. defense official told Reuters yesterday that the US is planning to conduct two provocations in the South China Sea, about twice a quarter, "to remind China and other countries about U.S. rights under international law," he said.

"That’s the right amount to make it regular but not a constant poke in the eye. It meets the intent to regularly exercise our rights under international law and remind the Chinese and others about our view,"

the official said.

Yi Xiaoguang, deputy chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, on Monday urged the US "not to do things that undermine the big picture of the China-US relationship" when asked about potential future US Navy actions in the South China Sea. Yi told China Daily that China “will take all the necessary measures to champion national sovereignty." About the future relationship between the two militaries, Yi suggested that they first "establish strategic mutual trust, boost understanding, and prevent misunderstanding and misjudgment." He said the two militaries are expected to "respect each other’s national sovereignty and security concerns" and "make a solemn commitment on not provoking or making trouble out of nothing."

U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris attempted to defend the U.S.’s provocative actions in the South China Sea as defense of the principle of freedom of navigation, during a visit to Beijing, yesterday and today, but was rebuffed by his hosts. Both Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, and Fang Fenghui, chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), protested the US action in their meetings with Harris, and warned that such provocations threaten China’s national security and the stability of the region.

"What has been unfolding lately is just like watching a self-orchestrated, self-directed, self-performed show," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a regular briefing on Tuesday. She estimated that 100,000 ships travel "safely and freely" through the South China Sea a year, including millions of barrels of oil per day. "They run into no problem at all," she said.

As a further message, Chinese fighter jets, last weekend, flew training missions over the same area where the Lassen had passed through, according to an account in RT. The jets flew from an airstrip recently constructed on one of the islands in the region. Retired Chinese General Xu Guangyu commented, according to the South China Morning Post:

"Both the defense ministry and foreign ministry have said China would have answers when its sea rights were breached. Such statements need to be followed by real actions. It’s a signal China sent to the US that it is serious about its claims. This is the minimum level of response China should have, or it will fail the expectation of its people."