By 2020, China could be setting the stage for a massive naval confrontation in the South China Sea if it tries to enforce new rules that are currently in draft form.
According to a report by Stars and Stripes, China wants to require all ships to ask permission before entering “Chinese waters” and all submarines to surface, announce their presence, and fly a flag. China has been taking steps to enforce its claims in the South China Sea, including a bomber flight and the construction of air bases on artificial islands.
Reuters has reported that China has begun construction of what appear to be facilities intended to support long-range missiles at Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef. The news breaks after the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) carried out what the Navy described as “routine operations” in the maritime flashpoint.
An international arbitration panel ruled against China’s claims last July, but the Chinese boycotted the process and have ignored the ruling against their claims. Last November, the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out what were, for all intents and purposes, “freedom of navigation” exercises. This past December saw a Chinese vessel carry out the brazen heist of an American unmanned underwater vehicle.
Quartz Media reports that the Chinese will fine any vessel that fails to comply $70,000. No word on how they intend to collect, but the U.S. has a lengthy tradition of refusing to pay such fines, going back to the XYZ Affair, when a South Carolina Rep. Robert G. Harper, famously coined the phrase, “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.”