President Donald Trump approved a plan to check Beijing over its
continued militarization of and actions in the South China Sea,
Breitbart News Kristina
Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands
on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them
with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for
Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense
and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a
blue-water navy to
rival the US’s, but six other countries also lay claim to
parts of the region.
In 2016, an international court at The Hague deemed China’s maritime
claims unlawful and excessive, but China rejected the ruling
outright and has continued to build military installations
and unilaterally declare no-fly and no-sail zones.
When a country makes an excessive naval claim, the US Navy
challenges it by sailing its ships, usually destroyers, close to
the disputed territory or through the disputed waters as a way of
ensuring freedom of navigation for all. In 2016, the US
challenged the excessive claims of 22
nations — China’s claims in the South China Sea, through
which $5 trillion in annual shipping passes, were the most
China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region,
telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask
permission, which doesn’t align with international law or UN
“China’s military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty,
security and regional peace and stability,” China’s Foreign
Ministry said in response to US bombers
flying in the region.
Under former US President Barack Obama, the US suspended freedom
of navigation operations in the South China Sea from 2012 to
2015. In 2016, the US made just three such challenges. So far,
under Trump, the US has made three challenges already.
“You have a definite return to normal,” chief Pentagon
spokesperson Dana White told Breitbart News.
“This administration has definitely given the authority back to
the people who are in the best position to execute those
authorities, so it’s a return to normal,” she said.
Freedom of navigation operations work best when they’re routine
in nature and don’t make news.
They serve to help the US establish the facts in the water,
but in the South China Sea, those facts all indicate Chinese
When Chinese military jets fly armed over head, when Chinese navy
ships patrol the waters, and when Chinese construction crews lay
down the framework for a network of military bases in the South
China Sea, the US’s allies in the region notice.
An increased US Navy presence in the area won’t turn back time
and unpave runways, but it could send a message to allies that
the US has their back and won’t back away from checking