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2015年10月30日 (金)

米艦南シナ海に 中国の軍事拠点化を許さない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. vessel patrol shows Beijing cannot militarize South China Sea
米艦南シナ海に 中国の軍事拠点化を許さない

The latest U.S. action serves as a stern warning to China, a country that is attempting to change the status quo by the use of force and making the change a fait accompli in the South China Sea.

A U.S. Navy Aegis-equipped destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) of artificial islands built by China in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter calls the operations as “routine activities” and made clear that Washington would continue the operations.

The U.S. operations embody, for all the world to see, the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea by conducting patrols, as on any other part of the open sea, in what China claims as its “territorial waters.”

Washington gets high marks for making clear its stance of not tolerating any act that would threaten sea-lanes, which are maritime interests of the international community.

China is promoting the establishment of military strongholds in the sea by building artificial islands through reef reclamation and by constructing a 3,000-meter-class runway, in an attempt to change the South China Sea into a “Chinese sea.”

This is part of China’s “anti-access and area denial (A2/AD)” strategy to prevent the intervention of U.S. forces in the event of a contingency.

Subi Reef, near which the U.S. destroyer sailed, was previously a sunken rock that was submerged at high tide.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that sunken reefs, artificial islands and facilities off shore are not entitled to the 12-mile territorial waters.

It is unjustifiable for China to claim that “China’s sovereign rights [over the South China Sea] were formed in the course of history,” while establishing the so-called nine-dash line, which has no legal basis under international law, in the sea.

Refrain from rash moves

It is absurd for Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to oppose the U.S. naval action by saying, “We urge the U.S. side to think twice, not to take rash moves and stir up trouble.” Isn’t it China itself that should refrain from rash moves?

China has reportedly taken such actions as having its vessels, including a guided-missile destroyer, monitor, shadow and give warnings to the U.S. warship. We strongly urge China to exercise self-restraint so that its military units do not take any dangerous, provocative acts.

The U.S. Defense Department had earlier proposed that the U.S. military vessels should conduct patrols, but U.S. President Barack Obama had put off making his final decision.

During his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington last month, Obama urged China to suspend reef reclamation activities and facility construction in the South China Sea. But Xi refused to comply, saying they are China’s territory, prompting Obama to give the go-ahead to the naval action at last.

Obama may have had too much confidence in his ability to persuade Xi.

The United States is cooperating with China in dealing with climate change and antiterrorism measures. But this is no reason for the United States to overlook China’s self-righteous actions.

Washington needs to rethink its strategy toward China, while taking measures to prevent any accidental military clash.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “It is extremely important for the international community to cooperate so as to protect open, free and peaceful seas,” supporting the U.S. dispatch of the naval vessel to the area. The Philippines and Australia have also hailed the latest U.S. action.

While cooperating closely with the United States and other countries concerned, Japan should keep a watch on China’s moves in the South China Sea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 29, 2015)Speech


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