China has accused the US of “serious military provocation” after a B-52 bomber flew within two nautical miles of Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea.
The incident involving the bomber took place last week near the Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly archipelago, territory claimed by China.
Beijing insists the island chain is within China’s territorial borders and has filed a complaint with the US through the US embassy, prompting the Pentagon to look into the matter.
The Chinese Defense Ministry then issued a statement accusing the US of deliberately raising tensions in the region.
“The actions by the US side constitute a serious military provocation and are rendering more complex and even militarizing conditions in the South China Sea,” the statement said.
The ministry also repeated previous assertions that it would take whatever necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and security.
Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US regularly conducted B-52 training missions throughout the region but, “For this mission, there was no intention of flying to within 12 nautical miles”.
An editorial, “US actions prompt islands militarisation” in the US journal Global Times read that the US military has adopted a mild tone this time, but “its action is aggressive”.
“China has stressed that these islands serve a peaceful purpose, but the premise of such assertion is that no external military force threatens their security. The US military is undermining this premise, and China should carry out corresponding security deployment”
Already embroiled in Syria and the Middle East, the US appears bent on spreading its wings in the Asia Pacific region expecting Japan to take up the slack.
Notwithstanding America’s formal agreement with Japan’s premier Shinzo Abe, the people of Japan have on several occasions indicated they are not in favor of their country’s militarization.
In similar vein, while India has conducted the Malabar naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal with the US Seventh fleet out of Japan’s Yokosuka harbor, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given no indication that his country will stand by America should it press beyond this point.
With Shinzo Abe’s hands all but tied and, India firmly committed to its non-aligned status, it defies the imagination to understand what the US hopes to achieve by issuing challenge to China in the South China Sea over the man-made Spratly Islands – beyond making its presence known in the Pacific zone.