The US Navy began carrying out ‘freedom of navigation’ missions in the South China in the early 2010s, after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton classified the strategic body of water a matter of ‘US national interest’. The Trump administration has ramped up US naval drills in the region, and announced plans to deploy new missiles to the area.
The United States is the main actor driving the militarization of the South China Sea, and has undermined efforts by countries to resolve disputes at the regional level, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.
Accusing the United States of intervening in regional territorial and maritime disputes, “constantly flaunting its force” and strengthening its military deployment, Wang suggested that US actions “interfere” with China and ASEAN nations’ efforts to resolve disputes through negotiation.
Wang emphasized that China remains ready to have a dialogue with the United States to achieve cooperation, and urged Washington to “fully respect the wishes and expectations of countries in the region, instead of just creating tension and seeking personal gain from it.”
China lays claims to about nine-tenths of the South China Sea, a strategic hydrocarbon and fishing resources-rich body of water which also handles in excess of $3 trillion in trade per year. Other countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have…