US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the United Nations Security Council's maritime security summit Monday that "conflict in the South China Sea or in any ocean would have serious global consequences for security and for commerce." He called out Beijing for its bullying and said it faced "no consequences" for ignoring maritime laws in the South China Sea. These comments sparked a sharp rebuke from China.
Blinken took aim at China via video link at the virtual summit and pointed out the "dangerous encounters between vessels at sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims" in the South China Sea.
"The United States has made clear its concerns regarding actions that intimidate and bully other states from lawfully accessing their maritime resources. And we and other countries, including South China Sea claimants, have protested such behavior and unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea," Blinken said.
"Some may assert that resolving the dispute in the South China Sea is not the business of the United States or any other country that is not a claimant to the islands and waters. But it is the business and, even more, the responsibility of every member-state to defend the rules that we've all agreed to follow and peacefully resolve maritime disputes," Blinken continued.
"Conflict in the South China Sea or in any ocean would have serious global consequences for security and for commerce. What's more, when a state faces no consequences for ignoring these rules, it fuels greater impunity and instability everywhere," he said.
Blinken's comments were immediately met with objections from China.
China's deputy U.N. Ambassador Dai Bing blamed Washington for "stirring up trouble out nothing, arbitrarily sending advanced military vessels and aircraft into the South China Sea as provocations and publicly trying to drive a wedge into regional countries."
"This country itself has become the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea," Dai said.
Here's the latest deterioration of Sino-US relations in the South China Sea:
Last week, China started military training drills in parts of the waterway in a five-day exercise expected to conclude on Tuesday. This came only days after the US began a large-scale, all-domain 26-day military exercise with Britain, Australia, and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region, the first drills of the kind in more than four decades.
Earlier this month, India also announced that it would send a task force of four warships to the South China Sea and the western Pacific for a two-month deployment, during which it would join Quad partners the US, Australia, and Japan later this month in the Malabar 2021 exercises. There has also been talk of plans for a Quad leaders' summit in the US next month.
The US-led Quad, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, has alarmed Beijing, which sees the grouping as a part of efforts to contain China's influence in the region. -South China Morning Post
Other developments in the South China Sea:
- PLA Military On Alert As British Warships Enter South China Sea
- Chinese Military "Drove Away" US Warship Near Paracel Islands In South China Sea
- Germany Sends Warship To Contested South China Sea For First Time In 2 Decades
Blinken concluded by saying all countries that lay claims in the South China Sea have the responsibility to defend maritime rules and peacefully resolve maritime disputes.
Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar recently said, "the South China Sea is and will continue to be one of the prime geopolitical flashpoints of the young 21st century, where a great deal of the East-West balance of power will be played."