China claims it has a historic right of ownership to almost the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 international arbitration ruling saying Beijing’s claim had no legal basis under international law. But the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it. DWF’s Head of Transport, Jonathan Moss, has explained China should be fearful of the US getting involved.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Moss said: “I think it would be US influence so if the US decides to debate, negotiate and adopt the mantel for the countries.
“If they become the parole for those particular countries I think that will be more of an issue for China because at the moment we have got this discussion and debate between the two leaders about trade deals.
“If the Americans become far more engaged I think that will probably make China listen.”
Mr Moss also noted there is a real risk of further conflict in the waters.
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He said: “I think there’s definitely a risk of all-out conflict.
“There have been pockets of conflict before; going back about 20 years there was a naval battle where three Chinese vessels were engaged with the Philippines Navy gunboats.
“That was in the Spratly Islands.
“There’s definitely the risk of isolated incidents and as we know, a string of isolated incidents can lead to major conflict.
While senior Trump officials launch diplomatic and rhetorical broadsides at Beijing, the US Defense Department is turning to the firepower of its heavily armed, long-range bombers as it seeks to counter Beijing’s bid to control the seas off the Chinese coast.
Since late January, American B-1B and B-52 bombers, usually operating in pairs, have flown about 20 missions over key waterways, including the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Sea of Japan, according to accounts of these flights from US Air Force statements and official social media posts.
These missions, military analysts say, are designed to send a crystal-clear signal: The United States can threaten China’s fleet and Chinese land targets at any time, from distant bases, without having to move America’s aircraft carriers and other expensive surface warships within range of Beijing’s massive arsenal of missiles.
In this response to the growing power of China’s military, the Pentagon has combined some of its oldest weapons with some of its newest: Cold War-era bombers and cutting-edge, stealthy missiles.