The US recently blamed China for “destabilizing actions” in the South China Sea, and has agreed to back a proposal for a more pronounced military presence. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel harshly criticized and denounced China for coercive maneuvers in its air and maritime disputes.
China is locked in disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia over the region’s rich resources. Because of this, Chinese and Vietnamese ships clashed, and one Chinese ship was sunk as a result. “In recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” Hagel told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue. “The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”
China’s Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong expressed his annoyance with Hagel’s remarks. “Secretary Hagel, in this kind of public space with many people, openly criticized China without reason. Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asia region’s instability giving rise to a disturbance,” Guanzhong said.
“Over all these years, China has never actively provoked an incident over matters of Chinese sovereignty, territory, and maritime boundaries,” Guanzhong continued. “It’s always been other parties concerned taking the initiative to provoke trouble, and then the Chinese government has had no choice but to respond.”
China’s Xinhua news agency even joined the dispute, accusing the US of flaunting its military dominance to ensure of the safety of its allies. In fact, the US has been in disagreement with China’s handling of several air and maritime disputes for several time now. “We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims,” Hagel said.
General Wang and Secretary Hagel briefly met Saturday afternoon to discuss the tension between China and Vietnam, and the oil rig that China placed in disputed territory. Vietnam Deputy Defense Minister Chi Vinh Nguyen told the Financial Times that the oil ring situation was “very serious not only for Vietnam, but also for the region and the world.” Although they only met briefly, the meeting was described as respectful and non-aggressive.
While this situation continues to unfold, China and the US could possibly disagree on more issues. China maintains that its actions were necessary, while the US accuses China of using unnecessary military force to destabilize the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
[Image via Reuters]