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China Aggression in the South China Sea Draws the Ire of Biden


Tensions Arise

The waters of the South China Sea simmer with escalating tensions as Chinese warships prowl like sharks, ready to strike at the slightest sign of weakness.

However, the latest provocations have drawn the ire of the United States.

President Biden vowed that any attack against Philippine forces in the South China Sea would trigger America’s ironclad mutual defense treaty.

Biden made this strong statement last week during a summit with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, presenting a united front against China’s bullying.

China brushed off criticism of its aggressive behavior, ludicrously painting itself as the victim.

Clearly, an increasingly rapacious China is the hostile aggressor as it tries to dominate the South China Sea through brute force.

While China relies on coercion and intimidation to have its way, America promotes partnerships and a rules-based order. But is not afraid of intimidation if the situation requires it.

China Provokes USA

Tensions continue to escalate in the South China Sea with the main nagging source of threats being China as it aggressively asserts its unlawful maritime claims.

The latest provocation involves dangerous manoeuvres by a Chinese ship near the Philippines’ Second Thomas Shoal, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone that China illegitimately claims as its own.

This hostile act prompted condemnation from the United States’ President Biden, who vowed that any attack or further dangerous provocations against the Philippine forces in the South China Sea would trigger the US-Philippines mutual defence treaty.

Biden made this forceful statement last Thursday during a summit at the White House with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida present for the significant occasion.

The three leaders presented a united front against China’s intimidation tactics, which also affect Japan given its proximity to the East China Sea.

Their meeting represented the latest effort by the U.S to strengthen alliances in the Indo-Pacific in order to counter the increasingly aggressive Chinese rise and military presence.

China predictably bristled at the criticism, absolving itself of any and all wrongdoing related to terrorising countries they deem as opposition.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning stated, “No one should violate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and China remains steadfast in safeguarding our lawful rights.” As if China was the nation being offended and on the receiving end of calculated threats and disruptions at the hand of another global influential nation.

They can lie and propagandise all they want, but China’s claims in the South China Sea were invalidated by an international tribunal all the way back in 2016.

The tribunal also ruled that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights. Clearly, it is China that is the aggressor in these disputed waters rather than the victim that the world should aid or help any further.

The recent uptick in Chinese assertiveness follows a pattern of illegal behavior aimed at slowly taking control of the South China Sea.

China’s so-called “gray zone” tactics include directing military-grade lasers at Philippine ships, firing water cannons, ramming vessels, and blocking access to disputed areas.

Creating artificial islands in the South China Sea and militarising them with missile systems and airfields was the least that China could do in order to intimidate the Philippines and flex their undeserved and corrupt military might . Provocative moves that flout international law and neutral norms.
And then you get China whining and crying about any form of retaliation when they themselves seize every opportunity to sanction and punish actors related to an opposition in conflict.

China Uses Old Tactics

We have seen this with the recent news of China sanctioning two U.S defence contractors because they also support arm sales to China’s worst enemy in Taiwan.

China’s brazen sanctions highlight the ever growing adversarial relationship between the world’s two largest economies. Alongside proving the fact that China will always play the blame game and act as a victim when it is an instigator most of the time.

However, such heavy-handed tactics will only further alienate China on the world stage.

According to China’s foreign ministry, the sanctions uphold the “one-China principle” and counter foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs.

But in reality, an increasingly aggressive China is trying to bully Taiwan into submission through nonstop military drills and aerial incursions.

It is the same old tale of claiming an undeserved and unfounded right to land or property or sea, and then do everything in your power to put the other side in living hell, without actually attacking and starting an unnecessary war.

China’s tactics have grown old and tired and that’s why by hosting this trilateral meeting and invoking the US-Philippines mutual defense treaty, President Biden sent a strong message that America will stand by its allies against Chinese coercion.

The U.S, Philippines, and Japan with their respective leaders have announced joint naval patrols in the Indo-Pacific this year to reinforce their cooperation in maritime security.

Coming just a day after Biden hosted Prime Minister Kishida for an official state visit, the summit highlighted steadfast US commitment to Japan as well.

In contrast to China’s reliance on brute force to get its way, the US and its allies are promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific based on rules and partnerships.

The new economic corridor for the Philippines announced at the summit exemplifies this approach. America’s network of alliances is a formidable counterweight to China’s bullying ways.

Of course, China continues expanding its military capabilities to try and shift the regional balance of power in its favor.

Its defense spending has grown enormously over the past 25 years, fueled by rapid economic growth.

China now boasts the world’s largest navy in terms of vessel numbers. It has been developing new weapons systems like hypersonic missiles and aircraft carriers.
Not to mention, the modernization of China’s nuclear forces should also be troubling and act as a constant wake up call to other global nations to stop them from ever slipping up and leaving an opening for China to seize and utilise.

China aims to project power far beyond its shores, as evidenced by its establishment of military bases on man-made islands deep in the South China Sea. Its capabilities clearly exceed what is required for self-defense. And we are already well aware what it aims for its ultimate goal.

Regional dominance and eventual global primacy appear to be China’s answer to the world wondering what is next for the global superpower.

Naturally, this aggressive militarization threatens free countries like Japan and the Philippines.

The USA stand with Allies

That is why the US and its allies are expanding security cooperation, including more joint military exercises. Japan will acquire new missiles and fighter jets. Australia is building nuclear-powered submarines with American and British assistance. These collective efforts to deter Chinese aggression are prudent.

Of course, China’s authoritarian regime gives no voice to the Chinese people, who surely want peace like everyone else.

The Chinese Communist Party stokes nationalism to justify its heavy-handed actions abroad and repression at home.

This diversionary tactic cannot mask the party’s failures like corruption and a widening wealth gap. Nor will it keep the Chinese people compliant forever.

On the international stage, China’s attempt to expand its sphere of influence risks dangerously isolating the country in the long run.

Its neighbors are increasingly alarmed by Chinese conduct and looking to America as a steadying force.

Even China’s traditional policy of non-interference now appears empty as it engages in economic coercion and hostage diplomacy.

It is in everyone’s interest that China acts responsibly and lawfully on the global stage. But with China, this is more of a pipe dream than anything substantial or meaningful.

The US and its allies will continue discouraging Chinese aggression while keeping the door open to positive relations. But this will not stop them from continuing to also defend the rules-based international order that has provided decades of relative peace and extraordinary development.

No matter how much China despises this strategy.

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