VodkaPundit

US to China: Go on and Take the South China Sea

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, chat after the group photo session before the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The dispute over the strategic waterways of the South China Sea has intensified, pitting a rising China against its smaller and militarily weaker neighbors who all lay claim to a string of isles, coral reefs and lagoons mostly in the Spratly and the Paracel islands. Kerry and Wang also attended the ASEAN meetings in Kuala Lumpur, but remained far apart in their views on what to do with the South China Sea.(AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, chat after the group photo session before the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The dispute over the strategic waterways of the South China Sea has intensified, pitting a rising China against its smaller and militarily weaker neighbors who all lay claim to a string of isles, coral reefs and lagoons mostly in the Spratly and the Paracel islands. Kerry and Wang also attended the ASEAN meetings in Kuala Lumpur, but remained far apart in their views on what to do with the South China Sea.(AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)

Oy:

In the silliness that often characterizes diplomatic discourse, Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told Reuters on August 4th that China’s transformation of South China Sea shoals and reefs into armed islands “should not be discussed” at the August ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Why not? Because, said Liu, “this is a forum for promoting cooperation.” Correctly, the U.S. State Department answered that Chinese provocations should indeed be discussed. After all, how can international cooperation be furthered when China makes illegal sovereign claims over international waters that lie within the exclusive economic zones of its neighbors?

However, the Obama administration is unwilling to back up diplomacy with action. Senior U.S. naval commanders have sought permission to uphold freedom of navigation by sailing or flying close to these manmade islands that lie hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland—far from the 12 nautical miles that make up China’s legally sovereign waters. But even though China is flouting both custom and international agreement—China ratified and is currently violating the U.N. Law of the Seas Treaty—the president has refused this request.

This is the same approach Obama and the Western Allies encouraged Ukraine to try early last year — resulting in the loss of Crimea and an emboldened Russia.

Are we to expect a different result in the South China Sea?