Last week’s international tribunal ruling at the Hague between the Philippines (who brought the case) and China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea did not end well for China.
However, in what resembles a child-like “sore-loser” response to the court’s decision, the Chinese government has made a public vow to “never stop” construction in the South China Sea, asserting that its operations in the region are “justified and lawful.”
Although Beijing claimed prior to the hearing that it “didn’t care” about the results, its behavior now tells a different story.
“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands [China‘s name for the Spratly Islands] halfway,” Wu Shengli, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, told US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson on Monday, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Commander Wu was adamant that the Spratlys are “China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful.”
He further warned that “no matter what country or person applies pressure,” China will continue to completion with the construction on the islands as planned, stressing that “any attempt to force China to give in through flexing military muscles will only have the opposite effect.”
Admiral Richardson made a three-day visit to China this week to discuss the conflict in the South China Sea, during which China announced it is closing off part of the sea (Monday to Thursday) for military exercises. Beijing’s announcement also included a warning: freedom of navigation patrols by foreign navies could end “in disaster.”
One such “foreign navy” hinted at in this statement is the United States; Washington strongly opposes Beijing’s recent actions in the South China Sea – the setting up of defense installations. As such, the US has deployed additional warships in the area. China is calling the US’s involvement the “greatest threat” to the region.
Victor Gao, director of the China National Association of International Studies, told RT News that he believes the US was “very much involved in this arbitration case brought by the Philippines…trying to put pressure on China.”