A new potential flashpoint has been observed to resolve the ongoing stalemate situation prevailing between China and the US over disputed South China Sea region. Beijing’s move in expanding its geographical arena through reclaiming islands apparently to extend influence. Chinese aggression over the islands in South China Sea region has sparked massive protests among the neighboring countries and irked the US.
Chinese aggression includes expanding and developing islands in the Spratly Islands chain. But the US military has found Chinese ships conducting survey around a clump of rocks, sandbars and coral reefs known as the Scarborough Shoal a month ago.
The Shoal is far away from Spratly and 120 nautical miles distant from the coast of the Philippines. The area under Chinese survey is just 200 nautical miles from the Philippines capital Manila. At the same time, the region is around 200 nautical miles from the closest point on the Chinese mainland, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The US defense officials have informed that different air patrols have been sent near Scarborough during the recent days to signal the US concern. The first flight patrol has been conducted just four days after Ash Carter, the US Defense Secretary, announced joint patrolling with the Philippines, a close US ally. The patrol flights on April 19 have been disclosed by the US Air Force through a news release, according to a report published in Nasdaq.
The US Air Force has been ensuring air and sea domains remaining open in line with the international law. International economics as well as free trade depends on the ability to move goods which is immensely influenced with the wellbeing of other nations, reports MarketWatch quoting Col. Larry Card, Commander of Pacific Air Force’s Air Contingent.
Meanwhile, Beijing has condemned the US flights on Monday referring the Shoal as own inherent territory while calling it Huangyan Island. However, analysts believe that China is probably using the shoal as a bargaining chip rather than intending to establish another military outpost there.
Opponents believe that China desires to monitor and intercept joint patrols from the bases nearer to the Philippines. Military outpost in the Shoal will also enable China to track ships and submarines entering the South China Sea from the Philippine Sea.
Chine is in conflict with the neighboring countries centering ownership of the Spratly Island located in the South China Sea. But before resolving the crisis, China has been claiming Scarborough Shoal as its inherent territory. However, analysts believe that Chinese move over the Shoal aims to gain benefit from the politics centering South China Sea region.