China is at the confrontation again with it’s neighbours in South China Sea. Recently it’s coast guard ships crossed path with Philippine coast guard vessels displaying ‘dangerous manoeuvre’. The Philippine Coast Guard ships were on routine patrol across the waters of Second Thomas Shoal, when two Chinese coast guard ships attempted to block it’s path and gave warning to immediately return. This is continuation of Chinese aggressive behaviour with neighbours and attempt to force it’s will by threat of military confrontation. The reported incident is second in a row. This time effort to replenish the disputed Spratly Islands which is home to about 400 Philippines was also frustrated by the unprofessional Chinese conduct. This brings back the past memory of Chinese ships illuminating a Philippine vessel by Laser. It’s not only Philippine but the story repeats over with other countries like Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
China’s aggressive tactics is an attempt to intimidate it’s smaller neighbour who have rightful claim over their islands territories. These also adds on to related exclusive economic zones where international laws allows a nation to carry out economic activities.China is a signatory to UNCLOS an international obligation to observe right to free navigation, respect for maritime boundaries and right of carrying out economic activities within the permissible boundaries of an exclusive economic zone. Chinese claims to new territories were based on it’s own interpretation of nine dash lines. However, this was set aside by ICJ in a landmark ruling and doesn’t hold waters anymore. Not surprising though that China ignored the ruling and continues with impunity. Today South China sea has transformed into a hotly contested zone. US continues to sail through disputed waters in an attempt to demonstrate the freedom of navigation.
China has not only augmented the militarisation of the sea but it’s hostile actions are fraught with risks. Numerous such aggressive incidents by Chinese ships and aircrafts have been reported by large number of countries in the region. One just needs to keep the count updated and it will appear as a chronic disease. All the close calls have been highly provocative and it’s a matter of time when a conflict befall. What China doesn’t care to appreciate is the spiralling of the events out of control in no time. China has to realise there are multiple and genuine stake holders in the South China Sea and it’s not alone. An accident by chance or design will be catastrophic for the region and China will hold the onus for that.