On Thursday, China warned U.S. ally Japan it’s “playing with fire” with any plans to hold joint naval drills with the United States in the South China Sea. Reuters reports:
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, asked about Japan’s plans, said it had constantly been trying to stir things up in the South China Sea for its own purposes.
‘We must solemnly tell Japan this is a miscalculation. If Japan wants to have joint patrols or drills in waters under Chinese jurisdiction this really is playing with fire,’ Yang told a monthly news briefing.
‘China’s military will not sit idly by,’ he added, without elaborating.
China and the U.S. are at something of a standoff in the waters off China’s southern coast. China, who claims those waters, despite a U.N. arbitration court ruling that says those claims are invalid, has been flexing its muscles and warning the U.S. against intervention in the region.
The United States, for its part, has been responding in kind, with drills launched by troops stationed in Guam and the Philippines. The U.S. contends the military’s presence in the region is a check against China monopolizing access to the South China Sea.
Currently, neither the U.S. nor China have signaled any inclination toward backing down.
What’s worse, China has the military backing of Russia, whom the U.S. is currently at extreme odds with regarding the conflict in Syria. Additionally, China has a separate, direct conflict unfolding with Japan — again, a U.S. ally — in the East China Sea, as Underground Reporter has covered:
Since the beginning of August, Japan has been accusing China of violating its sovereign space by sending hundreds of fishing boats — accompanied by armed government vessels — across its maritime boundary lines and into Japanese waters. These claims were substantiated when the Japanese Coast Guard released video of the violations on [August 16].
“Further ratcheting up the tension is the fact that Japan has begun development of land-to-sea missiles in the name of protecting its space. China, of course — who doesn’t acknowledge the boundary line and claims territorial rights to those waters — took this news as proof that Japan was ‘eyeing a shift to an offensive posture,’ according to a recent article in China’s state-run Global Times.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is holding joint naval drills with Japan and South Korea in the Sea of Japan, and considering further coordinated action in an effort to “defend against North Korea’s unprovoked acts of aggression.”
The Sea of Japan, incidentally, borders the southeastern coast of Russia.
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