WASHINGTON TIMES — The South China Sea (SCS) is currently the focus of a dispute between the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The PRC has preemptively deployed military personnel and equipment to enforce their claims to a trumped-up, self-identified but unrecognized “nine-dash line,” an imagined boundary that is inconsistent with international law and commonly accepted international behavior.
The PRC has diverted significant dollar equivalents of capital from its faltering economy that would have been better invested in educating and providing health care to Chinese citizens, to build approximately 3,000 acres of military bases on a variety of dredged coral reefs hosting 9,800-foot-long runways, combat aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry. The military facilities pose a threat to shipping and aircraft belonging to all nations passing through or over the South China Sea. Other nations should be concerned that these actions are operational preparation of the battle space. Why would the Chinese military conduct these preparations unless they were preparing for battle?
And why is the South China Sea critical to the world economy? Half of the world’s merchant shipping, one-third of its oil and two-thirds of the world’s natural gas pass through the waterway.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued its ruling in the case on July 12, finding in favor of the Philippines’ challenge to the PRC’s imperialist claim of sovereignty to over 80 percent of the South China Sea. Prior to the ruling, People’s Liberation Army Navy Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint State Department of the Central Military Commission, stated China would “not recognize or honor” any decision issued by The Hague court. PRC President Xi Jinping stated that “while China will firmly safeguard its sovereignty, rights and interests, it is willing to peacefully solve the disputes through friendly consultation and dialogue with the countries directly involved,” a policy that appears to exclude the United States.