Monday, 04 January, 2016

B-52 Mistakenly Flew Close to Disputed Island Claimed By China

Image courtesy Kalayaan ATIN ITO Image courtesy Kalayaan ATIN ITO
Dana Christensen | 31 December, 2015, 21:37

China on Saturday urged the United States to stop provocative actions following the flight of two B-52 bombers over the area near China's Nansha islands.

"The recent upgrades to facilities on the Taiping Island will help to further facilitate the island as a location where the United States and Taiwan can better coordinate scientific research on climate change and other ocean issues in the South China Sea", she said.

"This behavior is a serious military provocation which complicates the general situation in the South China Sea, [contributing] to the militarization of the region", the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Chinese government officials filed a complaint with the USA embassy in Beijing after a US bomber flew close to disputed islands.

On the surface, it nearly looks like the stuff that took place during our kindergarten days: the stronger flexing the muscles against the weaker in a clear attempt of deliberate provocation, in order to derive some pleasure, which, in retrospect, we love to classify as the bullyboy tactics of our childhood contemporaries. And in October 2015, the US Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12-nautical miles of the Nansha Islands, despite warning from the Chinese navy.

Over the past years China has reclaimed several islands in the area and built the infrastructure on them capable of supporting combat missions of the Chinese Air Force.

The area in the South China Sea is one of questionable sovereignty as the Chinese stake claim to portions of the sea while Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan also make claims to the area.

In an effort to consolidate its claim, China has been piling sand on the reefs and atolls in the Spratly Islands archipelago before adding buildings, ports and airstrips big enough to handle bombers and fighter jets.

Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal they are investigating the flight path of the B-52.

The US uses pre-planned freedom of navigation operations to assert its rights to "innocent passage" in other country's territorial waters.

"The way China has propelled the global economy in this century, it should also propel peace in the region", he said. Officials say the US intends to continue periodic patrols to establish freedom of navigation, laying the stakes for more confrontations.

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, demanded the deal be scrapped to avoid harming relations across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the U.S. This doesn't appear to be intentional, but all the same it has doubtlessly raised tensions between China and the United States.