Dr Ali Ahmad
That major powers having nuclear warheads pointed at one another is unfortunate because it takes a single mistake to spark a nuclear war and this is a war most of us would not survive. A precedent is , in not too distant history, the nuclear halocaust of Nagasaki and Heroshima. The consequences of using nuclear energy in the wrong way are very detrimental to both our species and the Earth itself. It sounds quite scary to think about the destruction that a possible global nuclear conflict between the United States and China would cause.
The contentious South China Sea bears great value for China and the USA as a commercial route and a reservoir of oil and gas. The build up of nuclear warheads in the South China Sea (SCS) by the major powers is highly ominous in terms of global peace.
The dispute on the South China Sea has severely damaged Sino-US relations. For many years, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines have competing territorial and jurisdictional claims, mainly over rights to exploit the region’s extensive reserves of oil and gas.
Tensions have ratched up since 2014 as China has turned sandbars into islands, equipping them with airfields, ports and weapon systems. But more recently, the conflict has hit the critical phase and there are apprehensions that the area is turning into a flashpoint for World War lll.
After the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, on July 12, 2016, ruled that China’s nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea, and its land reclamation activities on islands are unlawful, the USA has been trying to sail in the South China Sea under Freedom of Navigation (FON) principle.The United States claims that Freedom of Navigation (FON) principle allows U.S. military vessels to operate in China’s two-hundred-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and that nothing in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or state practice negates the right of military forces of all nations to conduct military activities in EEZs without coastal state notice or consent. China, on the other hand, insists that reconnaissance activities undertaken without prior notification and without permission of the coastal state violate Chinese domestic and international law.
The USA instigation under the pretext of FON has caused great anger in Beijing, which has since vowed to take all necessary measures available to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea, declaring that it had the right to set up an air defense zone on the sea. China has also since been positioning and testing its nuclear weapons, and planning military drills on its waters with Russia. Even the United States has confirmed that China has tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICB), which is capable of striking everywhere in the world just within half an hour.
The Trump administration looks highly detremined to take a more confrontational stance toward China than its predecessor. Donald Trump has caused a strong feeling of annoyance in Beijing with combative comments on trade practises and China’s military build up in the South China Sea.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, which countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes any country’s attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight.”
If the US blocks China’s access to islands in the South China Sea then “the two sides had better prepare for a military clash,” a China state-run newspaper, Global Times, said in an editorial , on 2 February 2017, in reference to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
During his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 1 February 2017, Rex Tillerson categorically declared that China’s occupation and militarization of the islands was akin to “Russia taking Crimea from Ukraine.” He added that Beijing’s island building in the area was “illegal” and that China’s access to the islands “is not going to be allowed.” US Navy under the Trump administration has, therefore, started Freedom of Navigation by deploying the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the South China Sea, carryimg a flight group of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 jet fighters.
US aircraft carrier operations in the South China Sea are, however, not unusual. Around a year ago, the USS John C. Stennis led a similar cruise through the area. And the Vinson was in the South China Sea in 2015, just one of its 16 operations in the South China Sea in its 35-year history.