According to the Pentagon, on May 17, 2016, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets intercepted a US Navy EP-3 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance plane on a “routine patrol” in “international air space” about 100 nautical miles south of China’s mainland coast and 50 nm east of Hainan.
China’s claims, policies and actions in the South China Sea have been severely criticized by other claimants as well as external maritime powers. The protagonists are stepping up their public relations campaigns to bolster their positions. Much of the rhetoric fits the allegory of the pot(s) calling the kettle black as China’s major critics have undertaken similar actions.
The essence of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is the territorial disputes caused by the illegal occupation of China’s maritime features in the Nansha Islands by the Philippines in the 1970s in violation of the UN Charter.
There has been a long-standing agreement between China and the Philippines on resolving their disputes in the South China Sea through friendly consultation and negotiation. From 1995 to 2011, there were at least 6 joint statements between the two countries repeatedly reaffirming negotiation as the means for settling their relevant disputes.
The current regional political constellation — in particular the trend of concentrating on domestic politics at the expense of regional matters — partially explains the weakening commitment to ASEAN across Southeast Asia. This contributes to an expectation for countries with strong regional agendas, like Vietnam, to step up.
The loss of the “Remain” vote in the referendum puts into question the multibillion dollar Sino-UK cooperation agreements signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK last year, in particular the Hinkley Point nuclear project.
China, the US and their respective supporters are engaged in a propaganda “war” regarding the South China Sea. China has launched a worldwide information campaign that justifies its position. Officials and analysts in the US have seemingly been dragged into the media “gutter” and become involved in a public information campaign of their own.
In his address to the 2016 Shangri-La Dialogue, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter outlined the US concept of a principled security network in the Asia-Pacific. The US sees China’s activities, especially in the South China Sea, as leading it towards raising a “Great Wall of self-isolation.”