It appears that China is laying claim to a portion of international waters without consent from the rest of the world, including the United States, and has gone out of its way to warn the U.S. Navy not to interfere in airspace surrounding a batch of artificially constructed islands.
Navy aircraft, specifically the highly classified and advanced P8-A Poseidon surveillance plane,recently flew routine missions around the islands, only to be met by Chinese Navy operators warning them to leave the airspace by saying, “This is the Chinese Navy, you go!”
But Daniel Russel, the top U.S diplomat for East Asia warned the Chinese, “Nobody in their right mind is going to try to stop the U.S. Navy from operating.”
He continued his bold statement with, “We believe that every country and all civilian actors also should have unfettered access to international waters and international airspace.”
During another Poseidon surveillance flight, the aircraft’s pilots were warned eight times to leave the area by the Chinese Navy.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, during a briefing, insisted that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the group of atolls and reefs that Chinese workers covered with unfathomable amounts of sand dredged from the ocean floor to create the islands.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren, the “next step” for the U.S. Navy would be to “test” the 12-nautical-mile zone around the artificial island, which is the standard airspace and water barrier around natural land.
U.S. officials have also considered sending warships to the area within the 12-mile zone to test Beijing’scontroversial territorial claims.
With so much happening right now in the Middle East, perhaps China thought they could take advantage of the situation and not be noticed while trying to take international waters that don’t belong to them.
But that’s not going to happen as long as the U.S. Navy is on watch.