While we have seen an escalation in provocation between the U.S and China for over a year, it would appear that that a very real threat of an armed conflict could soon be coming to fruition. In the past few days, as many celebrated the holidays, the Chinese began its show of military might in the Eastern pacific.
Many believe that the change in U.S foreign policy throughout the last year has provided a window for the Chinese show of force.
Back in October 2015, American officials announced that U.S Navy warships would sail directly through a 12-nautical mile zone that is claimed by the Chinese. The area lies within the disputed region of the South China Sea.
The waters which surround the Spratly Islands, that is claimed by the Chinese as sovereign territory has been a major center of escalating controversy. The United States has continued in its refusal to recognize the claims of territory that the Chinese have made, and maintain that the area lies in international waters.
In March, the U.S Navy then deported a small fleet to the South China Sea. Included in the fleet was the John C. Stennis aircraft carrier, two cruisers, two destroyers, and the 7th Fleet flagship.
Of course, even the Navy Times has confirmed that the rising tensions were due to the actions of both sides. Soon after an announcement was made in February that the Chinese had dispatched their own advanced surface-to-air missile battery to the Paracel Islands, the U.S Pacific Command leader Adm. Harry Harris announced to lawmakers that China was attempted to militarize the South China Sea.
Then, on Christmas Day, the Chinese displayed to the world that they are not one to be messed with. The Global Times, which is state-run, called on the nation to create a show of their abilities.
“When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the US one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules.
“If the fleet is able to enter areas where the US has core interests, the situation when the US unilaterally imposes pressure on China will change,” reported the Global Times.
After practicing air battles and fueling up, the Chinese Liaoning carrier started heading east into the Pacific and towards the U.S border.
In just August, the Chinese defense minister told citizens that they needed to begin “preparation for a people’s war at sea.”
He also warned of other “offshore security threats” and said that there was indeed a need for the acknowledgement of the potential risk of China’s national security.
Ash Carter, a Defense Secretary for the U.S has participated in the escalation in conflict between the two nations. In March Carter urged China to halt their militarization of the South China Sea before the U.S intervened.
“China must not pursue militarization in the South China Sea,” Carter said in a speech in San Francisco. “Specific actions will have specific consequences.”
Basically, Carter was telling China that they must allow the U.S military to amass further forces into their territory and to stand back. If the Chinese decided to initiate a reply to the U.S military fleet there would be consequences.
While tensions between the U.S and China continue to rise, we are also seeing reports of the escalation in conflicts between the U.S and Russia. With America spending more on war for war than any other nation on planet Earth, it is a scary endeavor to go to war with two massive global superpowers at the same time. Unfortunately, only time will tell exactly where these rising tensions lead.