World War 3 and the South China Sea: 6 Things You Better Know
The red line shows China’s territorial claim, which an international court ruled was illegitimate.
A war between the United States and China over the South China Sea dispute is far more likely than you might think.
Some observers believe a new international court decision makes such a conflict even more likely.
Unfortunately, the US media has largely ignored this development, even though some observers believe it might lead to an armed conflict – even World War III.
Here is what you should know:
1. The conflict involves the South China Sea, which China claims is part of its territory. The US, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and other nations say the area is international waters and therefore open to all countries to use. The Chinese claim they have the right to block other nations’ navies and air forces from operating in the region. Both China and the Philippines, a close American ally, claim the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Chinese military forces have occupied some of the islands and started building fortified bases there. The bases include ports and airstrips.
2. The Philippines sued China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands – and won. The court July 12 ruled that China has no rights to the islands and was in violation of international law with its actions. China, so far, has ignored the ruling.
The US maintains it has the right to operate its military forces in the region. The Chinese are not backing down.
“We in China would not be intimidated by the U.S. actions, not even if the U.S. sent all 10 aircraft carriers to the South China Sea,” said Dai Bingguo, former state councilor of China. He said the court’s ruling “amounts to nothing more than a piece of waste paper.”
The risk for the US, he said, “is that it may be dragged into trouble against its own will and pay an unexpectedly heavy price.”
3. China is deploying military forces – including nuclear submarines. The Chinese Navy closed off a portion of the South China Sea for maneuvers on July 18, the Associated Press reported. The Chinese Coast Guard is keeping Philippine fishing boats away from a contested shoal.
China’s Liberation Air Force released a picture of one of its H-6K bombers flying over Scarborough Shoal, one of the islands on July 14, Forbes reported. The H-6K is capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
China is a major naval power. The US Office of Naval Intelligence reports that the Chinese People’s Liberation Navy operates five nuclear-powered attack submarines, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and more than 50 diesel-electric
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