OPINIONS South China Sea patrols provocative


South China Sea patrols provocative

China Daily

20:20, March 03, 2021

This bird eye view shows the coral reefs in China's Xisha Islands, South China Sea, June 1, 2011. (Photo: Xinhua)

Hopes for peace and tranquility can often end up being shattered by someone bent on making trouble. Which fits exactly into the recent situation in the South China Sea.

While the US navy has frequently conducted what it likes to call "freedom of navigation" missions in the South China Sea, with some of its warships even sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese islands, it seems that other countries are now eager to join its game.

Germany announced on Tuesday that one of its frigates will set sail for Asia in August and, on its return journey, become the first German warship to cross the South China Sea since 2002.

That news came just weeks after the French navy announced it was deploying a nuclear attack submarine along with naval support ship to the maritime area to "affirm that international law is the only rule that is valid, whatever the sea where we sail". Moreover, one of its amphibious assault ships and a frigate are to travel to the Pacific on a three-month mission, crossing the South China Sea twice and taking part in a joint exercise with the Japanese and US militaries in May.

The increasing military involvement of more countries from outside the region further complicates the situation and compromises peace and stability there.

US President Joe Biden has made it one of his top foreign policy priorities to try to rebuild an alliance of Western democracies against China. And in order to show he is as tough on the country, he has inherited many of his predecessor's most significant policies targeting China, including that concerning the South China Sea. The deployment of warships by the US' allies in the waters obviously caters to his call for a show of unity to counter China, and gives their navies something to do.

What makes these absurd and even provocative moves is the fact that China has never in any way hindered freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which now serves as an essential maritime channel for global trade. On the contrary, it has been working with its Asian neighbors to try to solve the territorial disputes and build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, with a lot of progress made in that regard.

France and Germany are more than 10,000 kilometers away from the South China Sea and they have nothing to do with the disputes that exist among the region's countries.

By joining the US in flexing their military muscles on China's doorstep, they have not only demeaned themselves by becoming willing pawns in Washington's geopolitical game, but risked turning the region into a potential flashpoint for armed conflict.

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