China has issued multiple warnings to an US plane snooping over the South China Sea disputed islands on Wednesday, reaffirming its territorial claims and its rights to monitor all aircraft going through its sphere of influence. However, US officials are still referring to the artificial islands as “disputed territories” and think China is trying to enforce its will through aggression.
The Pentagon recently declassified a series of recordings relevant to what the Chinese think of the territories. A CNN crew got access to some of the footage that revealed the Chinese Navy has been instructed to take a very stern approach towards any airplane attempting to gather intelligence.
“You go!” a Chinese Navy communications worker was heard saying in English. “This is the Chinese navy … Please go away … to avoid misunderstanding,” the voice warned off the US plane as it approached the islands in question.
The aircraft crew members claim they received the message while they were still flying at over 15,000 feet in the air, a short while before having actual eye contact with the island. However, the US military doesn’t seem too discouraged by the fact that they were discovered, and some army officials suggested future surveillance missions will get even closer to the islands.
Getting knowledge on what the Chinese are really building on the manmade islands is paramount, military analysts believe. A few months ago, satellite images showed what very much resembled an airstrip that could very well be used for military purposes. China, on the other hand, explained it only wants to guarantee the safety of the trade ships passing through the area.
What is certain is that the Chinese have been stepping up construction works on the islands lately. What so far was only a regional dispute – involving Beijing and the other South China Sea who have claims over some of the islands – could soon become a global security issue, according to some experts.
Michael Morell, a former CIA Deputy Director, belives China will use every trick in the book to expand its sphere of influence. “China is a rising power. We’re a status quo power. We’re the big dog on the block. They want more influence,” Morell explained.
Seen from Beijing’s perspective, China has full sovereignty over the South China Sea and thus has every right to allow construction works to proceed on the island, as well as surveilling neighboring airspace. The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement shortly after the Pentagon recordings went public. “We hope relevant countries respect China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea, abandon actions that may intensify controversies,” a spokesman for the ministry said, adding that China has a longing desire for regional peace and stability.
Image Source: Dawn