China is instigating more tension in South China Sea as it rushes military efforts, according to reports. Moreover, Beijing is looking into fortifying its strategy in the disputed sea with Hainan as the core to its power initiative. Can China succeed in conquering South China Sea?
Many critics point to China as the “culprit” behind rising tensions over South China Sea. The country has reportedly been accelerating efforts to turn the artificial islands it constructed into military bases in the region. More importantly, critics point out that China has a “self-serving” stance that does not justify its arguments about its behavior and efforts in the disputed area.
As Japan News put it: “The nation’s self-serving stance is conspicuous for its far-fetched arguments aimed at justifying its conduct in the area.”
U.S. President Barack Obama has been trying to intervene in the rising tensions as he urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to see through his pledge that Beijing is not militarizing South China Sea. There were talks on peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute and freedom of navigation.
However, China insisted that it will not be agreeable to any conduct that undermines “its sovereignty … and security interests in the name of freedom of navigation.” This continues to place China and U.S. at odds with each other.
The publication also said that there are signs that China is trying to reclaim Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines. Such efforts can be seen as an “attempt to enclose nearly the whole area of the South China Sea by force with no regard for the concerns held by neighboring countries.” This placed Beijing in a precarious position, as it will not gain international trust should it push aggressively its interests in the region and challenge U.S. allies in Asia.
Furthermore, China’s Hainan also has geopolitical importance as tensions in the region rise. Hainan hosts the Yulin Naval Base and its submarine bunker, which gives its strategic importance.
“Hainan is the tip of the naval spear vital to China’s projection of power,” Straits Times quoted Beijing-based security analyst Xie Yanmei from the International Crisis Group.
She added that Hainan is home to China’s nuclear submarines and, most probably, aircraft carriers, too.
“China’s recent build-up of outposts in the South China Sea is partly aimed at making spying on the Hainan bases riskier and more complicated, and stretching the depth of defence to shield Hainan,” explained Xie.
“If China declares an ADIZ over northern parts of the South China Sea, it could be administered from either Hainan or the Paracels,” added senior fellow Ian Storey from the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute.