China’s continuing militarization of the islands in the South China Sea has one member of Congress warning that the communist nation may be preparing for war.
Republican Sen. James Inhofe, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday that China’s ongoing militarization activities resemble preparation for a world war, the Navy Times reported.
“It’s like you’re preparing for World War III,” Inhofe said. “You’re talking to our allies over there and you wonder whose side they’re going to be on.”
Inhofe made the comment during a committee hearing focused on threats posed by China and Russia’s growing military power.
“I’m concerned our message is not getting across,” Inhofe said, referring to the severity of the China threat against the U.S.
“There’s this euphoric attitude people have had since World War II that somehow we have the best of everything,” he added.
China’s ongoing military buildup on SCS islands is akin to “preparing for World War III,” Senator Inhofe, SASC Chair. At last, the similarities w/ Japan’s southward expansion are noted. https://t.co/kyDhaYOqbS
— SCS_Disputes (@SCS_Disputes) January 30, 2019
China has been militarizing the South China Sea for more than two years, despite vowing to former President Obama in 2016 that they would not do so.
Earlier this month, China reacted aggressively to yet another Freedom of Navigation (FON) mission carried out by the U.S. Navy near the Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea, which prompted China to deploy missiles to the region, CNN reported on Jan. 10.
The DF-26 ballistic missiles are designed to destroy moving targets up to 3,400 miles away, such as U.S. warships. Nicknamed the “Guam Killer,” the missile can be affixed with conventional and nuclear warheads.
China recently conducted a live fire exercise of the DF-26 missile shortly after another U.S. freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) with the USS McCampbell and USNS Walter S. Diehl.
Aside from military activities, the rhetoric of Chinese leaders also indicates that war could be a possibility.
In December 2018, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Commander, Dai Xu, said Chinese ships should “stop” and “ram” U.S. ships that enter Chinese waters.
In October 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered his Southern Theatre Command, which oversees the South China Sea, to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war.”
Xi reiterated his call for war preparation in January during a military commission meeting in Beijing.
“The entire armed forces should have a correct understanding of China’s security and development trends, enhance their awareness of danger, crisis and war, and make solid efforts on combat preparations in order to accomplish the tasks assigned by the Party (the ruling Communist Party of China) and the people,” Xi said at the time.
Xi and other prominent Chinese figures have repeatedly declared that they refuse to give up territory in the South China Sea, which they claim despite its recognition by the rest of the world as international waters.