Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

U.S. warship route near disputed reefs leaves Xi in quandary: scholar

U.S. warship route near disputed reefs leaves Xi in quandary: scholar

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) Chinese President Xi Jinping (???) is now faced with a dilemma on how to respond to a U.S. vessel's patrol close to two reefs controlled by China in the disputed South China Sea, Director Ding Shuh-fan of the Institute of International Relations of National Chengchi University said Tuesday. The USS Lassen sailed to waters within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit claimed by China around the man-made Subi and Mischief reefs in the South China Sea earlier in the day in a demonstration of the right claimed by Washington to freedom of navigation in the disputed waters. Ding said both China and the U.S. will maintain their "fight without breaking" strategy, meaning exercising self-constraint to avoid further escalation of tensions while continuing to compete against each other. Ding said the U.S. is fully justified in its action based on legal principles as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that foreign vessels, both military and civilian, are allowed innocent passage through territorial waters. By deploying a vessel within 12 nautical miles of the two reefs, the U.S. means to "deny China's claim of sovereignty over the waters," Ding said, adding that Washington would accuse Beijing of violating international law if China takes any move to intercept the U.S. vessel. If China fails to react strongly, it would mean that Xi accepts the international law, but that would unavoidably cause domestic doubts about Xi's leadership in foreign affairs, making it very difficult to face domestic hawks like Lo Yuan, who has said that China must deal heavy blows to those who break through the battle lines of China's national interest. Ding said to some extent, the rising Chinese nationalism has sent China and the rest of the world into trouble, and it would substantiate the "China threat thesis" if Chinese vessels were sent to confront or collide with the U.S. ship. The USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer based in Yokosuka, Japan, has left the waters without encountering any Chinese military action. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the USS Lassen has illegally entered the waters of China's Spratly islands, and the relevant Chinese authorities have "monitored, followed and warned" the vessel and lodged a protest against what it described as an "irresponsible U.S. action." The South China Sea island chain, reportedly rich in natural resources, are claimed in all or in part by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. To enhance its substantial control of the South China Sea, China has from September, 2013 launched land reclamation projects on several reefs and then built military facilities, including airstrips on them. (By Yin Chun-chieh & Bear Lee)


Updated : 2021-09-18 06:04 GMT+08:00