Washington’s officials said that China has crossed a ‘red line’ on the issue of the militarization of Scarborough Shoal. At the same time, Japan has announced its plans to boost defense cooperation with the militaries of the Philippines and Vietnam in connection with China’s military activities.
While China continues its land reclamation projects in the South China Sea, the US has sharply opposed the militarization of one of the islands, in particular, Scarborough Shoal, located northeast of the Spratly archipelago and claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, and China. According to the US, any attempts of militarization of the shoal would cross a ‘red line’.
Pentagon officials said that China may have just crossed it.
According to the Washington Free Beacon information website, citing US officials familiar with intelligence reports, Beijing has escalated a number of its maritime security vessels around Scarborough Shoal. While before China has maintained a small presence of two or three such vessels in the area, now there are over a dozen Chinese ships there.
In addition, hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels appeared in the waters around Scarborough Shoal. Recently, Beijing used the same tactic in the East China Sea, where the country claims the Senkakus islands, also known as the Diaoyus islands, along with Tokyo.
In March, during the meeting between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, the US president issued a stern warning against the militarization of Scarborough Shoal, given its strategic proximity to the Philippines.
Nevertheless, Beijing has decided to flout this warning. Moreover, Chinese officials said that the country should “give a bloody nose” if the US will continue its military patrols through the region.
At the same time, Japan announced its plans to boost defense cooperation with the militaries of the Philippines and Vietnam. According to Sputnik, citing unnamed sources, Tokyo intends to increase the number of defense attaches to improve information sharing and data gathering regarding China’s military activities.
Another purpose of the announcement is to warn Beijing about an assured counteraction from Japan in the case of increasing provocations in waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
As reported, the Japanese government will make necessary budget requests for the year, from April 2017.