Beijing calls Obama’s bluff in South China Sea

On February 17, US President Barack Obama laid down the law to China’s leaders to stop expanding their military presence in the South China Sea.

They didn’t listen.

Obama met with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at Sunnylands, California, and then later told reporters, “We discussed the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions, including a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas.”

The same day, however, defense officials in Taiwan announced that China had deployed missiles to Yongxing Island, known in the West as Woody Island, a disputed island in the Paracel chain. While the Chinese government remained silent on the nature of systems, Chinese state-controlled media have indicated they deployed HQ-9s, China’s equivalent of the Patriot interceptor or the Russian S-300. It has an estimated maximum range of 120 miles, or 193 kilometers.

“Should the HQ-9 be deployed on the island, it will pose an important deterrent to Western provocations, but it can play a bigger role in early-warning with its advanced radar system,” a Wuhan-based military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times. She emphasized that the HQ-9 was a defensive system. 

US policy toward China remains driven by direct confrontation toward China in its own backyard, the South China Sea region. For example, US warships have sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China. 

China is serious about building massive artificial islands on top of coral reefs to strengthen its territorial claims to the South China Sea. The region has been in the direction of every disastrous invasion of the Chinese mainland over the past 176 years, starting with the Opium War of 1840 that wrecked the Manchu Dynasty and continuing with the Japanese invasion of 1937-45 that cost 16 million lives.

TRENDPOST: Despite President Obama’s escalation of a pivot-to-Asia policy, Republican presidential candidates, especially Donald Trump, are already accusing him of being too “weak” toward China. However, Beijing is increasing its military budget and continues to develop defensive and offensive strategies to counter any foreign threats.

Martin Sieff

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