A top ranking U.S. Navy commander has vowed to continue, and even increase, routine and lawful patrols in the South China Sea. The announcement was made when Adm. John Richardson was visiting a Naval base in Northern China just days after a an international tribunal dismissed the China’s claims over the area. The patrols are a challenge to the Chinese government who have been strategically bullying their way to dominating the contested waters.
China was outraged over the ruling handed down by the tribunal and has vowed to remain dedicated to their territorial claims of the highly contested sea. The Chinese government has referred to the tribunal’s ruling as nothing more than “waste paper” and has asserted that they will continue to work to militarize the area. Despite their highly aggressive tactics and behavior Beijing claims that the United States is “stirring up trouble in the area.”
The United States has conducted several freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea. They will continue to conduct these drills despite threats from Chinese officials. Richardson has vowed that the U.S. Navy will continue sailing, flying, and operating in any areas of the South China Sea that such operations are considered lawful. He told the media:
“The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change.”
A senior Chinese admiral fired back a cryptic threat. The state-run Chinese new agency, Xinhua, reported the admiral asserted that any freedom of navigation patrols carried out by foreign navies could “end in disaster” and warned all navies to stay out of the area “lest they cause unwanted problems.”
Despite Richardson’s unwillingness to give in to Chinese bullying tactics he has stated that he would like to deepen relations between the two nations. He hopes to end the conflict peacefully, however, he also took the time to acknowledge unsafe maneuvers made by Chinese aircraft and ships trailing American ships in the South China Sea.