US-China tensions escalate over South China Sea

By Peter Symonds
May 27, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Asia_US_Tensions between the US and China are continuing to escalate after Beijing lodged a formal protest with Washington on Monday over a highly-publicised US military surveillance aircraft flight near Chinese-controlled territory in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands.

An editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post yesterday continued the drumbeat of US denunciations of China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea and called for action by the Obama administration. “While it probably cannot be stopped, the project should be fully exposed—and China’s attempts to restrict air and sea traffic near its installations decisively rejected,” the newspaper declared.

The editorial’s language, condemning “the brazenness” of China’s territorial claims and its land reclamation as “a dangerous provocation,” has become standard fare for the US and its allies. In reality, the stepped-up actions of the US, thousands of kilometres from any American territory, have recklessly inflamed long-festering regional maritime disputes and are posing the danger of war.

Washington’s calls for “freedom of navigation” are nothing but a pretext for a military build-up in these strategically-sensitive waters and steadily escalating provocations, such as last week’s reconnaissance flight. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has called for the Pentagon to prepare plans for American military aircraft and/or warships to directly challenge Chinese sovereignty by entering airspace and waters within the 12-mile territorial limit around its islets and reefs in the South China Sea.

The US is clearly aiming to provoke a Chinese response that can be exploited to dramatically escalate the diplomatic and military pressure on Beijing in order to extract major concessions, even if that precipitates an open clash and conflict between two nuclear-armed powers.

The Washington Post editorial encouraged the Obama administration to step up the war of words against China at the annual top-level Shangri La Dialogue starting Friday in Singapore, where Defence Secretary Carter will undoubtedly use the opportunity to confront senior Chinese officials. The US and China’s neighbours, it declared, should “push back against the [Chinese] sandcastles in the Spratlys.”

In a similar vein, China’s announcement yesterday that it was constructing two lighthouses on reefs in the Spratlys was also portrayed in the US and international media as part of China’s supposedly menacing build-up in the South China Sea.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman Yang Yujun hit back yesterday against the US, declaring that “outside powers” were trying to “tarnish the Chinese military’s reputation and create an atmosphere of exaggerated tension.” Referring to China’s land reclamation, he said: “There has been a lot of hype surrounding this news. Is it because the South China Sea has shrunk and become more crowded?”

Alluding to the danger of further US military provocations, Yang declared: “We cannot eliminate the possibility that this is to create excuses for the actions that certain countries may be planning to take. This is not a new trick and has been used many times in the past.”

Yang was speaking at the launch of China’s new Defence White Paper, which lays out, in broad terms, the PLA’s strategy and objectives. After painting a fantastic picture of a world in which “peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit have become an irresistible tide of the times,” it proceeded to warn of “new threats from hegemonism, power politics and neo-interventionism.” It continued: “International competition for the redistribution of power, rights and interests is tending to intensify.”

The document explicitly pointed to China’s concerns about the US military build-up in the region and Japanese remilitarisation. “As the world economic and strategic centre of gravity is shifting ever more rapidly to the Asia Pacific region, the US carries on its ‘rebalancing’ strategy and enhances its military presence and military alliances in this region. Japan is sparing no effort to dodge the post-war mechanism, overhauling its military and security policies.”

The White Paper made clear that China is turning toward Russia, which is likewise being aggressively confronted by the US and its allies in Eastern Europe. China’s armed forces, the document emphasised, “will further their exchanges and cooperation with the Russian military within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership” between the two countries.

The White Paper highlighted the mounting tensions in the South China Sea, stating that some of China’s neighbours had taken provocative actions and reinforced their military presence on reefs claimed by China. “Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China,” it declared.

China’s military build-up, along with its reclamation work in the South China Sea, is aimed at countering US threats to its interests. While Washington denounces China’s land reclamation as a grab for control of the South China Sea, the US actions are directed at securing its own dominance. Since 2010, Washington has exploited the maritime disputes to drive a wedge between Beijing and its neighbours, and enhance the US military presence. The US now has basing arrangements with Singapore and the Philippines, directly adjacent to the South China Sea, and is seeking similar arrangements with Vietnam.

It is not China, but the US, that is threatening “freedom of navigation” through the South China Sea. China depends heavily on the key sea lanes through these waters for energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East, as well as for its global exports. A key element of the Pentagon’s strategic planning for war against China is to impose an economic blockade of the Chinese mainland by severing these shipping routes.

The defence shifts outlined in China’s White Paper are primarily aimed at preventing the US navy and air force from mounting such a blockade. The document calls for a gradual shift from the PLA navy’s current focus on “offshore waters defence” to include “open seas protection.” The White Paper also foreshadows a change in focus for the PLA air force, from territorial air defence to both defence and offence.

The danger of a catastrophic war between China and the US is being increasingly discussed in ruling circles. In comments last Friday, billionaire investor George Soros made an appeal for the US to make a “major concession” to China by allowing the yuan to join the International Monetary Fund’s basket of currencies and binding the two economies together more closely.

“Without it,” Soros said, “there is a real danger that China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then the threat of third world war becomes real, so it is worth trying.” Like all of those who claim that international economic integration will prevent world war, Soros ignores the lessons of history—economic interdependence did not halt the slide into World War I or World War II.

The real driving force behind the eruption of US militarism and the growing dangers of war is the worsening breakdown of world capitalism following the 2008 global financial crisis. The only means for halting this drive to war is the revolutionary overthrow of the bankrupt profit system by the international working class.


10 thoughts on “US-China tensions escalate over South China Sea

  1. sojourner

    I read an article yesterday, and the author quoted a “high ranking NATO official” as saying, “We will be at war with China before the end of Summer. Let’s hope it is not a nuclear war.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. newsfortherevolution Post author

      That’s insane. I don’t see how a war between them cannot go nuclear. Chances are it will spread to Russia, as well. Maybe that’s what Jade Helm is about. I’m sure martial law would be declared if there was a war

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sojourner

        Yes, the government is either preparing for a third world war, or a second and final civil war. It has to be one or the other!

        These creatures are insane, and so I fear they are sick enough to believe they can still survive even with a full-blown nuclear war.

        Insane is not an adequate word here!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. newsfortherevolution Post author

        I read an article that said, in the past, extraterrestrials have prevented nuclear war on several occasions. I don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is, I wish those aliens would take it a step further and get rid of the psychopathic 0.01% who are trying to destroy our planet. There must be an asteroid or barren moon somewhere in the galaxy that we can dump them all

        Liked by 1 person

  2. sojourner

    I can relate to what your wish, believe me!

    There are many who believe these power elite are of alien blood, and that they brought us here to be their slaves. Who knows? And then I’ve read about what you have stated here, but I cannot go back to depending on some kind of “savior” to solve these issues, as I know is the same with you.

    But like you, I do believe what is happening here, deals with more than just the material universe. I can’t help but believe this, because material explanations never explain nor resolve this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. newsfortherevolution Post author

      I find the theory that we were created to be a slave race rather interesting. I think it explains much about us and our world. Whether that is true or not, I do believe that there was once a much more advanced civilization on Earth, and that they had a deeper understanding about our own nature and the universe itself.

      And I agree, we are hopelessly stuck in the material world

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sojourner

    I firmly believe there is a universal consciousness that is seeking to make us aware of what is happening around us and our selves. But I don’t agree with many that we must be focused on this in some kind of mystical way. If there is this universal consciousness, then it is rational, because we are in the material realm and so must deal with material realm right now.

    Perhaps there is a higher consciousness, a spiritual one, but I’m relying on the material conscious I sense right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. newsfortherevolution Post author

      I also believe in a universal consciousness, and I think it would explain why there does seem to be collective awakening going on around the planet. Maybe this is why our governments are pushing so hard to suppress our rights and freedoms and control our minds at this point in time

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sojourner

        I have little doubt that this is a large part of the reason for what is happening right now with are so-called political “rights”. I believe in rights, but they are universal and not of man.

        There is a power beyond us, but materialist science has attempted, on orders from the elite, to close the minds of the people to this truth.

        These creatures can’t have the majority of us coming to this knowledge, and the power it affords us, because it would mean their demise!

        Liked by 1 person

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