China, US military escalation imminent in South China Sea

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Want China Times

Beijing’s aggressive South China Sea stance may force the US to grow its military presence in the region against unpredictable behavior from the country, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Linda Jakobson, an independent researcher and fellow at the Lowy Institute, said China’s actions in the South China Sea have shifted from “restraint” to “resolve.” The country may send a large number of its maritime law enforcement boats to counter Vietnamese forces in the South China Sea.

The more aggressive move may lead to further military intervention from the US. Most likely, it would have no choice but to establish an increasing number of military bases on allied land in the Asia Pacific. From these bases, it would deploy mobile anti-ship missiles in adjacent waters, said Jakobson.

The researcher said Chinese government’s South China Sea policy has become more “unpredictable” since municipal governments, law enforcement agencies, China’s military, resources companies and fishermen have used it to obtain funds and permission from Beijing for developments such as fishing bases, tourist attractions and resource exploration. China’s president Xi Jinping cannot condemn these actions since they are “taken in the name of protesting China’s rights.”

The establishment of the Sansha and the governance of islands in the South China Sea is partly contributed by municipal government, business interests and Chinese military. In other words, China’s foreign ministry is not the country’s sole foreign policy maker, according to the researcher.

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