Apparently, China is building a man-made island in the South China Sea, which is an engineering feat of some significance.
Who “owns” a man made (as opposed to God made, I presume) island? If it’s within 200 miles of the constructing country’s coastline, it’s a territory of the constructing country.
But apparently this island is 600 miles from China’s coastline. They can build it if they want, but it doesn’t become Chinese territory that far out.
So the US is in the right as far as international law is concerned, and China can’t warn people away from the island they are building because it’s all international water and air space. But then there’s a hitch: if the surrounding waters and air space are claimed and the claim is respected for a time, then the island would become legit Chinese territory.
Adverse possession, doncha know.
So, to prevent this from happening the US periodically engages in “freedom of navigation” operations, just to show that we don’t recognize any territorial, air space or restricted waters claims and in fact object. There’s an acronym, because the US Navy loves acronyms: “FON OPS”.
On the other hand, we don’t have to be obnoxious and overbearing about it:
China’s alarming creation of entirely new territory in the South China Sea is one part of a broader military push that some fear is intended to challenge U.S. dominance in the region.
We don’t know why the US should be entitled to be “dominant”, such that any “challenge” to our “dominance” is an affront entitling us to a round of sabre rattling. Ugh. But see here:
“China is a rising power. We’re a status quo power. We’re the big dog on the block … They want more influence,” he said. “Are we going to move a little bit? Are they going to push? How is that dance going to work out? This is a significant issue for the next President of the United States.”
War is “not in their interests, (and) it’s not in our interests,” Morell acknowledged.
“But absolutely, it’s a risk,” he said.
We don’t care for all the “power” talk, as if what matters who is the “Alpha Male“. We think war talk is silly, but irresponsible at the same time. We think we have little right to complain about China having a base outside China when we have bases all over the world, many of which appear to have no purpose other than as symbols of our “dominance”. And while we’re on that subject, we would prefer to be regarded as just and decent rather than “dominant” and “the big dog on the block”.
And we wonder about CNN’s ethics, or even their awareness of ethics, when they publish an uncritical puff piece that actually openly touts their too close relationship with their subject:
A CNN team was given exclusive access to join in the surveillance flights over the contested waters, which the Pentagon allowed for the first time in order to raise awareness about the challenge posed by the islands and the growing U.S. response.
We know how cool it is to get rides in P-8’s, or F-18’s, but the prospect of such a thrill shouldn’t turn a reporter into a mouthpiece. There’s a good argument to be made that this is really not a terribly important development, that if China wants to build islands hundreds of miles from their mainland: a) there are precious few opportunities to do that, which makes this island more or less a one-off; and b) even if they could cobb together more than one or two, what’s the big deal?
But those arguments and others weren’t made because CNN explicitly agreed to toady. It should be embarrassing for them, but apparently they’re shameless.