No Second Caribbean: South China Sea Is Not U.S. Playground
August 6, 2012
South China Sea is not US playground
The US Department of State criticized China over the establishment of the Sansha city and garrison last week. US action was partial to Vietnam and the Philippines, and may encourage them to further oppose China.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong opposition to the statement Saturday. The two powers had a rare stormy diplomatic quarrel over territorial disputes in Southeast Asia.
It comes as no surprise that the US is increasingly backing Vietnam and the Philippines on the South China Sea issue. When these two countries have taken the initiative over this issue, the US’s attitude seems more neutral. But once China has accumulated some advantage, Washington instantly gives up its position of neutrality to balance China.
The city of Sansha has been established. China will certainly not change its mind because of some comments from the US. The latest US statement will have zero influence on China.
Although the US statement encourages Vietnam and the Philippines, these two countries will not believe that this statement can really change the situation in the South China Sea. Meanwhile without the statement from Washington, Hanoi and Manila would not stop provoking China.
It is true that the US has influence in the South China Sea. But obviously, the US cannot do whatever it wants. Vietnam and the Philippines were very active in provoking China not long ago, which was potentially influenced by the US.
But those days have passed, and the US can no longer cause tempests in the South China Sea only by a wink or a cough. Washington’s influence in the South China Sea is dropping.
Current tensions in the South China Sea have put countries in the region on alert. Further provocations from the US would not necessarily be followed by Hanoi and Manila. They might even be suspicious of US intentions.
Although China has no plan to solve disputes in this region immediately, China will not allow Vietnam and the Philippines to take advantage of US power to decide the balance of the South China Sea at will.
After collecting some benefits from the first round of provocations in the South China Sea, the US seems to believe this kind of small trick could be used again and again, and continues to disrupt the situation in this region.
But all involved parties in the South China Sea expect peace instead of unrest. Only by meeting these real expectations can the US maintain its influence in this region.
The South China Sea is not the Caribbean. The US should keep that in mind.