Tensions are indeed rising along the South China Sea. China and the U.S. are both relentless in their display of military power in the disputed region.
The Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet has announced that the VAQ-138 detachment has arrived in Clark Air Base in the Philippines. It is comprised of the U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler airborne electronic aircraft that will help “support routine operations that enhance regional maritime domain awareness and assure access to the air and maritime domains in accordance with international law.”
The said detachment is part of a U.S. Contingent that was established by the U.S. Pacific Command back in April with the approval of the Philippine government. It is comprised of four aircraft and approximately 120 personnel who are assigned to the VAQ 138 expeditionary squadron.
China is yet to respond to this latest military development by the U.S.
Recently, China has been aggressive in its various activities in the disputed territories along the South China Sea. It has built several facilities in the said areas despite protests from neighbors such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. In response, the U.S. has vowed to increase its presence in Asia Pacific ally Philippines. At the same time, it has also been conducting what it refers to a freedom of navigation exercises, which seem to have angered the Chinese even more.
Even during diplomatic events, the South China Sea issue remains at the forefront of most remarks. Recently, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that should China decide to establish an ADIZ or Air Defense Identification Zone along the South China Sea, it will be viewed as a “provocative and destabilizing act.”
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said both during a Naval Academy commencement exercise and recent IISS Shangri-La Dialogue that China should be willing to negotiate its territorial disputes or else, they may end up erecting a “Great Wall of self-isolation.” The U.S. has also made it clear that while it doesn’t have any territorial interest in the South China Sea matter. However, the country has “long and enduring diplomatic, economic, and security interests in the Asia-Pacific.”