You know the game of chicken? Imagine two of the worlds most powerful military nations (with nuclear capabilities) in the world playing that game with ships.
Well that is about to happen in the South China Sea.
Gulf of Tonkin incident…Does anyone remember the Gulf of Tonkin incident that happened back in 1964? That incident is the excuse the US government used to get fully involved in the Vietnam War.
The trouble is that the attack in question did not happen.
In a couple of weeks, when the US flexes its military muscle and dares China to knock the chip of their shoulder, will there be a Gulf of Tonkin incident?
Is this going to be the thing that gets us all killed?
The US has something to prove.
Russia has checkmated the US in Syria. The EU is looking to distance itself from American foreign policy decisions. The US needs to do something to reestablish itself as the leader of the world.
In Major Escalation, US To Sail Warships Around China’s Man-Made Islands In South Pacific
For those who may have missed it, China’s land reclamation efforts in the Spratlys have become one of the most important geopolitical stories of the year.
In an effort to project the country’s growing military prowess, the PLA navy has used a collection of dredgers to build a series of islands atop reefs in the South China Sea, and although that actually isn’t unprecedented (some of China’s neighbors have embarked on similar projects), the scope of it is, as Beijing has so far constructed some 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory.
Of course these aren’t exactly inconsequential waters. On the contrary, these are shipping lanes through which trillions in global trade run and Washington’s regional allies aren’t particularly enamored with China’s “sand castles,” which some view as an attempt to build illegal military outposts.
This all comes as the PLA has taken on a more assertive role, expanding its patrols and even showing up unexpectedly in Yemen earlier this year to evacuate civilians trapped in the country’s war-torn port city of Aden.
Well, don’t look now, but the US is set to direct its own ships to sail around Beijing’s South China Sea islands simply to prove that Washington hasn’t lost all military credibility. Here’s FT:
The US is poised to sail warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea as a signal to Beijing that Washington does not recognise Chinese territorial claims over the area.
A senior US official told the Financial Times that the ships would sail inside the 12-nautical mile zones that China claims as territory around some of the islands it has constructed in the Spratly chain. The official, who did not want to be named, said the manoeuvres were expected to start in the next two weeks.
The move, which is likely to raise tensions between the powers, comes amid disagreement over several issues, including US allegations that China is engaging in commercial cyber espionage.
Ashton Carter, US defence secretary, has been seeking permission to take more assertive maritime actions for months. The White House had resisted because of concerns that such actions would escalate the situation in the contested waters of the South China Sea. But it finally agreed after officials failed to make headway on the issue during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Washington.
In his press conference with Mr Xi last month, President Barack Obama said he had expressed “significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarisation of disputed areas”, and stressed that the US would “continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere that international law allows”.
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