China’s enactment of a new maritime law last 01 September, which geopolitical analysts say are directed to the United States and her allies.
The new law requires multiple classes of foreign vessels traversing the Beijing-claimed waters in the South China Sea to provide detailed information to state authorities and take aboard Chinese pilots.
WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Pentagon has called the new law a ‘serious threat’ and a violation of international law, although it is still unclear how aggressively and how widely the new law would be enforced by Beijing and over how wide of a geography or if indeed China’s ‘territorial waters’ would be interpreted to include nearly all of the hotly contested region of South China Sea (SCS).
Pentagon officials warned that without a question, China’s default strategy is bit-by-bit a gradual domination of adjacent waters—or at least areas covered by their so-called nine-dash line, which extends across two-thirds of the South China Sea basin—short of triggering armed confrontation with rival states and, more crucially, drawing in major powers such as the United States and its European allies.
“We are increasingly moving towards the fourth phase of China’s domination strategy in the South China Sea. The first phase was the demarcation of Beijing’s areas of claims, roughly extending from the early-1970s to 2013, as China dominated the Paracel Islands (taken away from former South Vietnam), wrested control of Scarborough Shoal (taken away from the Philippines in 2012), and solidified its position on key land features within the Spratly Islands,” they noted.
The second phase began in late 2013, the Pentagon added, with President Xi Jinping overseeing massive reclamation activities, which radically changed the geology as well as geopolitical tempo of the disputes, as a whole host of low-tide elevations and rocks were transformed into massive islands.
Two years later, the third phase began with the rapid militarization of artificially-created islands through the deployment of advanced missile systems and establishment of kilometers-long airstrips capable of hosting large military aircraft.
This was followed by the fourth phase, in around 2019, with the systematic deployment as well as empowerment of Chinese coast guard and para-military forces to swarm, intimidate and, if necessary, use coercive force against rival claimant states.
“The introduction of the controversial coast guard law earlier this year and, most recently, the new foreign vessel law are quasi-legal maneuvers to give a veneer of legitimacy and formality to this new phase of China’s domination strategy,” US officials said. (TRC/The MiNT)