President Barack Obama hosted ASEAN leaders in a two-day summit at Rancho Mirage, California to address the rapid territorial expansionism by the emboldened bully in the region.
Pathetically, just as the U.S. President can’t seem to muster the fortitude to call ISIS terrorists ‘radical Islamic extremists,’ according to Bloomberg the statement issued from the summit hosted by the president didn’t mention the regional bully by name, either.
The primary purpose of the summit was to address concerns of ASEAN members over Chinese expansion, acquisition, control and recent militarization of what were international waters, and its claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea.
Eminent Domain, Chinese Style
Over the past two years, China has moved industrial equipment into the Sprately and Paracel Islands, dredged up once pristine reefs, built up man-made islands, constructed both seaport and airport facilities, erected warehouses and barracks facilities, and since February 3rd, according to a report from Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, deployed an “advanced surface-to-air missile system” on Woody Island n the Paracel chain. The Paracel Island chain is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
During these past two years, there have been numerous confrontations between Chinese military vessels ‘defending’ their newly acquired territory and Vietnamese and Philippine fishing boats, which have had a long tradition of fishing the area.
China has recently issued warnings to U.S. military planes and ships from going near the area it now controls. Last month, the U.S. sent the USS Curtis Wilbur into waters near the islands to test and contest the “excessive” maritime claims of China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Felix Chang, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said, “While the Chinese foreign ministry could claim that the missiles are defensive in nature, their deployment certainly puts its claim that China wants to avoid further ‘militarization’ of the South China Sea into question.”
Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, had asked president Obama to take “practical actions to put an end to all activities, especially large-scale construction of artificial islands and militarization.”
The Philippines had also brought a case to an international tribunal challenging the Chinese claims to over 80 percent of the South China Sea.
At the end of the California meeting the U.S. president and ASEAN leaders agreed in a rather milquetoast statement to ensure “maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas.”
President Obama issued a meek statement, but didn’t mention China by name, “Any disputes between claimants in the region must be resolved peacefully, through legal means, such as the upcoming arbitration ruling under the UN Convention of the Law of the Seas.”
The Chinese remain undeterred. The official Xinhua News Agency issued a warning against challenges to its claims and the reminder that the U.S. is not a spokesman for ASEAN. China and the U.S. are not member of ASEAN.
The statement read, “Washington should bear in mind that China will never turn a blind eye to any attempt that challenges its indisputable sovereignty. Underestimation of China’s resolve to defend it core interests would be a fatal mistake.”
If that isn’t a supremely confident bully flexing its muscles in the face of wimps, what is?