Tue, Dec 04, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China the one crossing the red line

By Cheng Tien-chu 鄭天助

There is a red flag or red line in the free world that governs proper and respectable conduct by people, governments and nations. The South China Sea is international water, through which more than 70 percent of world shipping, US$3.37 trillion last year, passes.

Freedom of passage in international waters cannot be disturbed or interrupted. There is a “status quo” honored by the free world and the UN.

As early as 2009, China has increased construction of artificial islands and laid claim to 1,295 hectares of land and 90 percent of the South China Sea as its territory.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) told US President Donald Trump when he visited the US last year that the islands were being built for peaceful purposes, from marine aid to scientific research.

Today, it is clear that the islands feature military-length airstrips, anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapons and naval guns. Cuarteron Reef (Huayang Reef, 華陽礁) has a new high-frequency, early warning facility to detect aircraft, a development not consistent with peaceful missions.

Fairfax Media has reported that Vanuatu agreed to a Chinese request to establish a military base there.

China has ignored and clearly stepped on the red line and crossed it.

What is the intention of its military expansion?

To safeguard law and order and ensure that the South China Sea remains a free international waterway, the US has increased freedom of navigation exercises, with its naval vessels sailing within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of Chinese-controlled islands in the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), territories the Chinese military seized from Vietnam in the 1970s.

In response, China dispatched warships to drive the US ships away.

In May, China had multiple bombers, such as H-6Ks, conduct take-off and landing exercises on islands and reefs in the South China Sea to improve its ability to “reach all territory and conduct strikes in all directions.”

The exponentially mounting tensions in the South China Sea were on full display recently when a US Navy ship almost collided with a Chinese destroyer, missing it by a mere 14m.

There is no question that China under Xi is ready and dares to challenge US vessels’ presence in the free, international South China Sea.

Who is challenging and who is defending free passage in the international waterway? China has crossed the red line.

On Jan. 6, China unilaterally opened three new commercial aviation corridors over the Taiwan Strait and increased the use of the M503 route, threatening Taiwan’s security and flight safety.

Chinese military planes could be disguised as commercial aircraft, and endanger the safety of flights to and from Taiwan’s Kinmen and Matsu islands.

Twenty years ago, London and Beijing announced the Sino-British Joint Declaration, in which China promised to govern Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” framework and promised to give Hong Kong “a high degree of autonomy.”

However, the Basic Law introduced Beijing’s tighter grip soon afterward, as Hong Kong’s chief executives were to be appointed by Beijing. In the past few months, China has cracked down on pro-democracy movements and jailed four prominent student leaders in Hong Kong. China clearly does not keep its promises to the British government of letting Kong Hong enjoy its autonomy, free from China’s direct rule for 50 years. China has changed the “status quo.”

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