(From the conversation.com)
By Qinduo Xu
Visiting Scholar and political analyst at the University of Melbourne
The United States is considering sending warships and helicopters to patrol in the South China Sea, under the guise of so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises. This is reportedlypart of a plan to pressure China into scaling back its construction work in the Spratly islands (known in China as the Nanshaislands).
That would be an unjustifiable and provocative act, which could lead to a military confrontation between the world’s two most powerful countries.
The US has so far failed to build a strong case for its much-talked-about strategic move. On May 13, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US:
can and does play an active role in the South China Sea to defend our national interests and international legal principles.
Defending national interests is certainly true – but defending “international legal principles”? That seems a hollow claim, since Washington is not even a member of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which it refers to frequently when it comes to the South China Sea disputes.
So how does the US justify potentially using its military to try to contain the “China threat”? And do those justifications stand up to scrutiny? Read more