The South China Sea has been a breeding ground of tensions for many countries, and now, including the United States. According to analysts, US and Beijing could soon find themselves in a showdown in the disputed region while both parties push their own agendas. Will it be an all out war?
The upcoming decision of the arbitration case brought by the Philippines against China can prompt the latter to take steps to demonstrate that it will not honor the said decision. As most reports say that Beijing might lost part of the case to Manila, potential escalations should be expected.
According to National Interest, potential results could include escalated efforts like reinforcing a blockade of Filipino troops at the Second Thomas Shoal, establishing air defense identification zone over the region and deploying military assets to the Spratlys among others. More specifically, it should be a point of concern that reclamation work could soon be at play at Scarborough Shoal.
Previously, the United States already detected activity in the area.
“I think we see some surface ship activity … survey type of activity … That’s an area of concern … a next possible area of reclamation,” Reuters quoted U.S. chief of naval operations Admiral John Richardson at that time. While satellite imagery from March 24 suggests that China has not initiated any activity in the area, Chinese and Filipino vessels were already spotted in the area. This also does not negate any surveys or preparatory activities on China’s part.
As to how things could go down in the region, National Interest has this to say: “Chinese land reclamation at Scarborough Shoal would present the Philippines and the United States with multiple challenges. From a security perspective, it would undermine perceptions of U.S. willingness to uphold regional security.”
The United States is not taking a step back on the issue as it is reportedly eager to bring to the table China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea during the G7 meeting. According to Bloomberg, US will present the matter to a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting in Hiroshima that would most likely infuriate Beijing.
“What we want to see happen in South China Sea is important. It’s important to the region, it’s important to the stability of the region, so I would suggest that those topics should be on the table,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the press in Washington on Friday.