Washington’s attempt to stop the expansion of the celestial Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea hit the rocks.
Written by Ivo Christov; Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
The visit of the State Secretary, John Kerry, in Beijing was announced as early as in January with the expectation that it might bring out of the Ice Age, American-Chinese relations. The reason for the meeting is the annual Forum for Strategic and Economic Dialogue between China-USA, with John Kerry leading the American delegation. On Sunday, a day before his arrival in Beijing, the State Secretary announced at a press conference in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbataar, that “Washington will look at the development of China’s anti-missile defence zone over the South China Sea as provoking and destabilizing, which will automatically question the Chinese will to find diplomatic solutions for the tensions in the contested region.” China neither confirmed nor denied the intention to provide anti-missilie defence cover over the zone in question, with the argument that “this decision depends on the level of the threat.”
Kerry’s words were obviously ill-taken in Beiing. The State Secretary who in January spoke to the Chinese leader, was not received by Xi Jinping. On top of that, the Chinese official, China Daily, reflected on the joint press conference of the two foreign affairs ministers without citing a word from John Kerry. Instead, the daily accented on the declaration of the first Chinese diplomat, Won I, that “China has already undertaken not to participate in the so-called militarization of the islands in the South China Sea and does not accept accusations that its words do not correspond with its actions.”
The ‘Ice Age’ in American-Chinese relations began with Xi Jinping’s rise to the leadership post in Beijing in 2012. The new Chinese leader has been rated by the experts as the strongest figure on the political tip in the celestials (China Communist Party – translator’s note), for the last two decades. He is the face of the new Chinese ambitions expressed in economic reforms, and further estabilishing Beijing as an independent factor politically, diplomatically and militarily. Xi Jinping’s economic reforms are locked in the so-called politics of new normalcy, stimulating internal consumption with the aim of reducing Chinese dependency on exports. However, the course of Xi Jinping in foreign policy plans is being crossed by the American interests on many azimuths. The first conflict theme inherited from the past, is the hacking attacks for which Washington and Beijing mutually blame each other. The mistrust between China and USA increased in 2013 when the NSA agent, Edward Snowden, leaked hyper-sensitive information about the American methods for global spying. On his way to Moscow, where he is today, Snowden transited through Hong Kong and the Chinese authorities did not assist the Americans in detaining their agent. In 2014, Beijing did not follow Washington in its attempt to isolate Russia after the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis. Moreover, Xi Jinping signed a strategic contract for gas supply from Siberia, which restored the trust of the business societies in Moscow. Of course, the most conflicting theme in the bilateral relations is the creeping colonization of the islands of the South China Sea by Beijing. In the last few years, the Chinese army has maneouvered on hundreds of inhabited islands in the region building facilities on some of them, which the USA interprets as first steps to militarization. Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philipphines have got territorial preferences towards the islands in question. The interest in the South China Sea rises from the assumed oil and gas resources and in the major sea routes running through this region. The control over the South China Sea islands allows the American Pacific Navy to terminate the supply of oil from the Middle East to China; a danger which Beijing seeks to remove by conquering the uninhabited atolls, reefs and islands.
At the opening of the Forum for Strategic and Economic Dialogue between China-USA, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, announced that “the arguments must not become a reason for confrontational behaviour.” His words are witness to the Chinese determination to practice its own politics in the region, regardless of Washington’s wishes. Obvriously, China is taking advantage of the American weakness during Obama’s last year in presidency, marked by opposition with Russia in Ukraine and the Middle East in order to establish control over the strategic zone.