The next battleground could be the South China Sea

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A file photo of the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer that sailed close to islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

Beijing has warned a U.S. warship sailing on August 28 near two contested islands in the South China Sea and urged Washington to halt its provocative operations.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer “sailed within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” US Navy Commander, Reann Mommsen, a spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, told CNN in a statement.

“The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” the spokesperson said, adding that freedom of navigation operations “are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

“Facts have proven that the so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ of the United States is essentially a hegemony that ignores the rules of international law, seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests, and seriously undermines the stability of the South China Sea region,” said Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesman for the PLA’s southern command.

Last week, former White House Strategist Mr. Steve Bannon recommended to President Trump that he should order the dismantling of the artificial islands in the South China Sea, as well as other installations there.

“I think, you are to give the Chinese 72 hours to take every radar, every offensive thing on military, all the jets, everything on the runways, everything off the islands, give them 72 hours to take it all off, ” said Mr. Bannon in an interview with Kyle Bass.

Calling China a “Strategic competitor” in the Pentagon Briefing Room earlier today, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper tells about U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.

Esper said, “It is clear that China is engaging in — in a deliberate strategy to undermine the stability of the region.  It is clear the values and behaviors of the Chinese Communist Party do not align with the vast majority of states.”

“Throughout my many conversations with foreign leaders, time and again they emphasized the need for the United States to continue to show leadership throughout the Indo-Pacific in order to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy.” he added.

According to Bloomberg, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s much-touted meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping yesterday does not appear to have yielded an agreement on the South China Sea territorial dispute between the two nations or a plan to explore the area for oil and gas.

The U.S. State Department weighed in forcefully last week on China‘s harassment of Malaysian and Vietnamese oil and gas operations in the South China Sea.

Two days earlier, the Department of Defense has accused China of escalating the coercion against Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activity in the South China Sea.

It said in a statement, “The Department of Defense is greatly concerned by China’s continued efforts to violate the rules-based international order throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

Recently, China resumed its coercive interference in Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activities in the South China Sea (SCS), directly contradicting Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe’s pledge at the Shangri-La Dialogue that China would “stick to the path of peaceful development.”

“China will not win the trust of its neighbors nor the respect of the international community by maintaining its bullying tactics.  Its actions to coerce ASEAN claimants, station offensive military systems, and enforce an unlawful maritime claim raise serious doubts over China’s credibility.  The United States will continue to support efforts by our allies and partners to ensure freedom of navigation and economic opportunity throughout the entire Indo-Pacific,” the statement read.

According to Xinhua on Thursday, China would put on a grand celebration, followed by a military parade and mass pageantry at Tian’anmen Square on October the first, the National Day, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

More people would like to see that as a funeral parade of the CCP instead of a national celebration.

By Cloudy Seagail

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