Wanting to be a global superpower, the Chinese government is creating a new world order through intimidation and deception. The Communist leaders do not believe in fair play nor do they respect international law. They are using the South China Sea dispute and pandemic crisis, among others, to advance their political interest. With each and every antagonistic snub against the rule of law, China is ratcheting up tension in the Asia Pacific region and this does not bode well for the global business community. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports
Peace, stability, freedom of the seas in consistent with international law, and legally binding obligations. These are fundamental factors in maintaining the unimpeded flow of maritime trade in the South China Sea. It is thus alarming to trade and oil dependent countries that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is putting a stranglehold on this critical sea route and claiming it as part of its maritime empire.
The CCP’s “wolf warrior spokespersons”, using confrontational and deceptive language to defend national interests, have consistently denied it. This deceptive propaganda is used to obfuscate the true narative about China’s aggression. However, actions speak louder than words. In this case, the CCP’s actions are a direct challenge to upend the established rules-based order to create a new world order where might is right. This is a direct threat to maritime trade.
A free and open Asia Pacific is vital to trade and the South China Sea is the most important commercial shipping trade route within the region. According to think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, an estimated US$3.4 trillion of the world’s trade passed through the area in 2016, about 21 percent of global trade. That included more than 30 percent of the world’s maritime crude oil trade, an estimated 15 million barrels per day. Be that as it may, the recent maritime show of force by China has certainly threatened the delicate balance of power in this region.
Wolf warriors against the world
Since the start of the pandemic, the CCP has been engaging in increasingly aggressive and provocative actions in disputed waters in South China Sea. According to CNN, this growing aggression started in early Jan, when Chinese fishing vessels started to operate inside Natuna Islands, Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, and refused to leave. In Apr, a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near the disputed Paracel Islands. Also, in Apr, Chinese and Malaysian vessels were locked in a high-stakes standoff for more than one month near the island of Borneo.
The CCP has created an armada of coast guard and Chinese fishing vessels that can be deployed in the South China Sea to harass other claimant’s ships or sail in politically sensitive areas, said the same CNN report.
To tighten its grip over the disputed water, the CCP has set up two new administrative districts on the Paracels and Macclesfield Bank, an area claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, as well as the Spratly Islands and their adjacent waters, where there are multiple overlapping claims, the South China Morning Post reported on 18 Apr.
The CCP is using gangster tactics
In a United States Naval Institute News report, David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said the CCP is using gangster tactics to get its way in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
In the now infamous incident, in 2016, an international arbitration panel, administered under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which China is a signatory, ruled against China and said Scarborough Shoals in the South China Sea belonged to the Philippines. However, Beijing ignored the ruling, and called it “a piece of paper,” Stilwell said.
Michael R. Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, said in a statement: “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”
Secretary Pompeo went on to assert: “Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with might makes right.”
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