Just when we thought the relationship between the U.S. and China was gaining civility, Chinese officials have claimed that American warships are “trespassing” in the South China Sea.
With both nations being driven by a need to reign in North Korean madman Kim Jong Un, the relationship between the two superpowers seemed to be warming in recent months. China’s newly enforced sanctions against North Korea’s coal industry seemed to somewhat tranquilize the diminutive dictator, who has continued to threaten the United States with annihilation, but has also backed down from his stated plans to conduct yet another nuclear test.
Now, as U.S. warships approached artificial islands created by the Chinese government, Beijing’s tone has turned far less cordial.
“China on Thursday accused the US of trespassing after an American warship sailed near a reef claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, the first such operation by President Donald Trump’s administration in the disputed waterway.
“The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey entered the area ‘without permission from the Chinese government’, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a regular press briefing, adding that the ship had ‘trespassed in the waters near the relevant islands and reefs’.
“‘The relevant action taken by the US vessel undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests, and is very likely to cause unexpected sea and air accidents,’ he said, urging Washington to stop ‘provocative actions’.
“The USS Dewey sailed less than 12 nautical miles from Mischief Reef — part of the Spratly Islands — on Thursday morning local time, a US official said earlier, the first freedom of navigation operation under Trump. The UN says nations can establish the breadth of their territorial sea up to a limit of 12 nautical miles.
“China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.”
The relationship between China and the United States has been on a rollercoaster ride as of late, with the election of President Donald Trump acting as a bit of a catalyst in both directions.
One of Trump’s first actions as President-Elect was to take a congratulatory phone call from the leadership in Taiwan, something that China felt was ultimately disrespectful to their relationship with the Americans. Then, after meeting with Trump directly, Chinese President Xi seemed to be turning over a new leaf of cooperation with the United States, specifically due to the importance of dealing with Kim Jong Un’s newly galvanized threats.
Now, of course, this strategic military maneuver has once again displeased the fickle Chinese, leading to yet another swing of the pendulum as it pertains to U.S. – China relations.