China has declared a 38,000-square-mile trapezoid located in the South China Sea as a “no sail zone” between the Philippines and Vietnam. China plans to conduct war games in the area from July 5 to July 11.
The designated “no sail zone” is larger than the U.S. state of Maine. It runs east of China’s Hainan Island down to, and including, the Paracel Islands. The games are scheduled to end one day before a UN-backed tribunal issues a ruling on China’s sweeping territorial claims in the area.
The restricted area is located near, but not directly on, the high-traffic shipping lanes that carry some $5 trillion a year in trade through the area. No other ships will be allowed in the designated area according to statements released from Beijing.
The timing of the games is being seen as a challenge to both the tribunal and the U.S. The games start just after the American independence day and being just before the tribunal makes its decision. The Chinese have stated that they will not honor any ruling that the tribunal makes and many believe the games are simply a way for the Chinese to show their force.