South China Sea has been an increasingly more tensed region as Beijing tries to flex its muscles more and other nations continue to challenge its claim. Malaysia has reportedly sent out a harder response to China to contest rights over the disputed region. Will tensions spark World War 3?
Malaysia is Fighting Back for South China Sea Dispute
Malaysian officials were surprised when a large vessel off the coast of Sarawak state sped to a Malaysian patrol boat back in March. The boat blared its horn and was revealed to be part of the “Chinese Coast Guard” with the name emblazoned on the vessel.
A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officer confirmed that there have been several sightings of China Coast Guard vessels along the South Luconia Shoals just near the oil-rich town of Miri. However, it was the first time that Malaysia encountered such an aggressive approach.
“To us, it looked like an attempt to charge at our boat, possibly to intimidate,” Reuters quoted the unidentified officer who does not have the authority to speak about the matter publicly.
Previously, only countries like the Philippines and Vietnam among others asserted strongly against China’s activities. According to the US, Malaysia’s response remained low-key until Chinese fishing boats were found encroaching near South Luconia Shoals in March.
Malaysia deployed its navy and even requested to talk to China’s ambassador to discuss about the incident. Malaysia also just revealed plans to put up a naval forward operating base by the south of Miri, near Bintulu.
US-China Relations Continue to Degrade Amidst South China Sea row
The United States, on the other hand, seems determined to challenge China more. According to Bloomberg, the West’s operations including sailing a U.S. guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea in the previous month has got China protesting.
“The U.S. is challenging and provoking the new maritime order by wielding its military power,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
“The South China Sea has become one of the main sticking points in Sino-U.S. relations, which used to be more troubled by trade and currency,” added Zhou Qi, director of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.
“As the U.S. increasingly pivots to the Asia-Pacific, boosting partnerships with old allies and building new friendships — many of which have territorial disputes with China — Beijing feels the pressure.”