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China-USA tensions: south china sea artificial island inhabited, what will be the us response?


The year 2020 has been a difficult one for China, including the corona virus, the trade war with the United States, the new national security law in Hong Kong and many economic challenges. And now, in recent months, the South China Sea issue has re-emerged as another major tension with the United States.
For the first time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared China's claim to the South China Sea illegal. Defense expert Alexander Nellen has reviewed China's plans to strengthen its grip on the region.

The South China Sea has been an area for years where war could break out at any time. Many countries claim ownership of its small islands and treasures. The area is a major waterway. In recent years, China has insisted that its claims to the region are centuries old and is rapidly increasing its military presence in the region to bolster its position. Admiral Harry Harris, the former head of the U.S. Pacific Command, once called it "a great wall of sand," creating a security fence and equipment delivery network around the Chinese territory at sea. The work was done on Earth by the Great Wall of China centuries ago.
However, while China and the United States have made contradictory statements on the South China Sea issue, on the whole, despite their differences, the two have not gone too far. Despite trade issues between the two countries, the United States has not sided with countries that have border disputes with China. The United States has demanded that China allow its ships to move freely in the region.
Many Western leaders seem convinced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's position that China is using the corona virus epidemic to reinforce its repressive stance. And the effects of rising tensions on these issues are being felt in the South China Sea. In April this year, a Chinese Coast Guard ship destroyed a Vietnamese fisherman. The incident took place near the Paracel Islands, which both countries claim. A Malaysian oil exploration project off the coast of Borneo was later thwarted by China. The incident involved a Chinese naval surveyor with the help of the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard.

In response, a US Navy amphibious assault ship and an Australian warship were deployed nearby.
Tensions escalated and two modern US warships, the USS Bunkerhill and the USS Berry, were deployed near Paracel and Spratly Islands. China recently closed a large area in the sea near the Paracel Islands for its military exercises.
The US response was outraged, saying it violated Chinese promises not to escalate the conflict.
Meanwhile, the United States deployed not one but two navies in the area for joint operations. The U.S. Air Force also sent a B-52 bomber. The reaction from China's state media was as sour as expected.
The growing presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea has increased the risk of a clash between the two warring powers and a sharp rise in tensions. China continues to increase pressure on its core concerns, and in this context the situation looks particularly dangerous. The recent use of force in the border dispute with India and the implementation of the National Security Act in Hong Kong have made many people wonder how restrained China will be in responding to these challenges.

China considers the area an important part of its maritime borders, not only important for its nuclear weapons on the island of Hainan, but also a corridor for its Belt and Road trade project.
This maritime area is critical to the future of China's Greater Bay Area trade project. China has also included Hong Kong in the project. The Chinese plan to settle the South China Sea began in 2012 when the city of Sansha was upgraded from a county to a prefecture or subdivision.
The government provided modern civic amenities to a small community of resident fishermen, established a primary school, bank and hospital, and provided mobile phone services. Now tourists come there regularly at scheduled times.
The second phase of the project began in April this year when China established two more county-level administrative districts operating under the city of Sansha. There is also the Sansha District People's Government, which is working on the Spratly Islands in line with Chinese claims. Six years after China began filling the Spratly Islands, satellite and aerial surveillance suggests one of the world's greatest feats of maritime engineering and military construction. In addition to military facilities, the islands, created from mudflats, include 3,000-meter-long runways, naval berths, hangars, ammunition bunkers, missile depots and radar sites. On the provincial reef, for example, a farm has now been set up with six acres of fruit and vegetables.
Bees have been imported from China for plant pollination. There is also a herd of pigs, chickens and a fish pond. Meanwhile, in 2019, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has set up a research center for marine sciences on the Muschiff Reef. Leading Chinese hydrologists have announced that the groundwater level at Ferry Cross is rising rapidly and the island will become self-sufficient in water in the next 15 years.

Residents of the island are already taking advantage of the FiveG facility. They also have fresh fruits and vegetables. Aerial photographs show large-scale fishing boats in the coastal lakes of Sobi and Muschiff Reef. Perhaps the families of the fishermen will soon move to these islands permanently.
The greatest symbolic evidence of China's dominance in the South China Sea is a stone brought to China.
In April 2018, 200 tons of very ancient rocks were planted on military bases in the Spratly Islands. They were brought from the mines in Taishan, China. The monument was in line with Chinese President Xi Jinping's dream of a new nation. Mount Taishan is one of the holiest mountains in China, symbolizing the continuity of thousands of years of Chinese civilization. All this shows that China has reached the second stage of establishing its dominance in this maritime area, that is, to make this very important defense corridor a part of China to such an extent that its return is not possible.

The purpose of recent US exercises in the South China Sea was to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the high seas and international waters for its navy. Along with US naval exercises, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement that Chinese claims to the region are completely illegal raises the question of how far the United States is prepared to go. Mike Pompeo would at least want an alliance of key countries to isolate China diplomatically. The United States could quickly turn China's new Sansha district into rubble, but that would mean an open war that the two countries do not currently want.

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