China-U.S. maritime tension

The vital South China waters have been subject to disputes since time immemorial. China has regularly conducted campaigns for years claiming ownership of the contested sea. The contested sea serves as a significant international route, source of energy, and bumper fishing grounds for the neighboring countries. The South China Sea covers approximately 1.4 square miles, making firm allegations by building land features and stations on reefs, rocks, and shoals to enhance their maritime campaign (Wadhams 4).

The United Nations panel in 2016 considered China maritime allegations to the South China Sea that was contested by the Philippines as well as unlawful and instead set rules meant to ensure security and peace. The United Nations gave the legal mandate of southern China resources to coastal countries such as the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Despite the United Nations court ruling, China has persisted in conducting ownership campaigns and pressured the smaller countries to surrender their maritime rights by using military force. China has made attempts to share the resources the disputed sea holds by implementing joint development movements.

 In the past, the United States never took sides on the issue; however, President Donald Trump’s administration recently regarded China’s motive as unlawful and as a way of “bullying over resources.” According to the US, China aims to expand its territory unjustly by dominating smaller countries and controlling the resource-rich South China Sea (Wadhams 3). The United States government and the world “cannot allow China to treat the South China sea as its maritime empire.”The US declaration has triggered a bitter debate that China and other nations have responded to accordingly. The US and the United Nations have denounced China’s demand of the sea around Vanguard Bank of the Vietnam, Scarborough Shoal of the Philippines, the Mischief Reef, and Luconia Shoals of Malaysia (Wadhams 3). Trump’s government has accused former President Obama’s administration of being too lenient with China and witnessing without taking any measures as it irrationally expands its territory at other smaller countries’ expense.

China responded to the US intervention by asserting that the US remarks are based on a selfish agenda and are meant to provoke tension in South China. The US involvement on the matter, according to China, aims at disturbing the peace that exists with ASEAN countries (Wadhams 2). China also accused the US of breaching historical laws and facts that required the US not to take sides on such matters. The rivalry between China and the US has recently escalated with President Trump even blaming China of the COVID 19 pandemic that originated in China. The US remarks inevitably affect international trade and cybersecurity between the two countries and other nations. The US imposed sanctions on a Chinese official due to the violation of human rights in Xinjiang rights. China responded by enforcing sanctions to American representatives. These incidents affirm the hostility between China and the US (Wadhams 3).

However, China has asserted that it does not intend to establish a maritime territory as claimed by the US and value and treat its neighboring countries with honor. Currently, China is in discussions with the ASEAN bloc regarding codes of conduct to enhance peace, freedom of navigation, and stability (Wadhams 3). The exciting part of the story is that China is unwilling to back down from the fight of the disputed waters, yet they claim that the discussions have yielded progress. China’s and the regional counties unwillingness to find common ground is bound to fuel a clash at the South China Sea. The US intervention in the matter seems justified if the aim is to advocate for peace and security. Still, at the same time, the US could be on another list when they decided to condemn China maritime claims to the sea.

Other countries have also spoken about China’s maritime claims to the South China Sea and the US intrusion in the issue. For instance, Japan, a military partner of the US, took the matter gravely and supported the US, claiming that they aim to ensure that the legal maritime rights of the regional countries are adhered to as the United Nations tribunal had ruled. Likewise, the Philippines insisted that China obey the existing international law dictated by the UN to avoid possible tension that may result from the disputed waters (Wadhams 3). The Philippines has also signed a defense treaty with the US, and if China continues to violate the United Nations ruling the action, the US will take remains a mystery.

The US has also criticized the Chinese for conducting military operations in the disputed sea around Paracel Island in South China. The US representatives have asserted that the state did not violate rights by taking sides but rather intended to stimulate the small countries to fight for their maritime rights. According to the US administration, each country, whether big or small, is entitled to maritime rights to fish, generate power, and freely navigate their economic zones (Wadhams 5). The US priority is justice, and its purpose is to ensure that more influential countries do not misuse their power by dominating the smaller states. The US intrusion seeks to enhance the victim countries’ morale that China disrespects by taking their resources. China has built oil drills points and military camps on the conflicted waters but still emphasized its diplomatic intentions. Although Beijing’s efforts threaten the regional countries, they have refused to give up their maritime rights, and the US involvement in the matter boosts their confidence a notch higher.

China claims maritime rights of the South China Sea have existed for a long time, and the US administration for the first time regarded their acts as unlawful. The distant relationship between China and the United States is apparent, a new phenomenon that may result in a clash. At the same time, the United Nations cannot weaken its stand by allowing China to press for its maritime rights at other nations’ expense. If the United Nations entertains China when it violates international law, it can be deduced that similarly, another government can take the United Nations decisions lightly.

The United States is ready for a productive discussion with China with expectations that they obey the United Nations verdict; only then will the different countries arrive at a collective agreement (Wadhams 5). The United States has recently sent its military on the same ground that China conducts military operations; these actions affirm the two countries’ bitter contention. Apparently, a common understanding will be attained if China withdraws maritime claims of the South China Sea. Shockingly, neither China nor the regional nations are ready to back down from the fight.

Works Cited

Wadhams, Nick. “U.S. Denounces China’s Claims to South China Sea as Unlawful – Bloomberg.” 14 July 2020, p. 6, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-13/u-s-denounces-china-s-claims-to-south-china-sea-as-unlawful.

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