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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/31/17

Trouble ahead in the South China Sea

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Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Of all the troubling aspects of Donald Trump being president, the most troubling has to do with foreign policy and specifically current US provocations against China in the South China Sea.

Let's be clear the idea of the US protecting "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea is a ruse, a bogus claim for the US to insert itself in an area that is outside its sphere of influence. It would be like China sending its naval ships to defend freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Mexico.

China considers the South China Sea as part of its sovereign territory and clearly within its sphere of influence.

This is not to say China's neighbors particularly Viet Nam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei-which all have territorial claims in the South China Sea-but ALL disputes between the neighboring countries have always been handled diplomatically with no hostile actions taken by any of them, even though many disputes remain unresolved.

There has never been any infringement of any nations ships traversing the South China Sea by China or any of its neighbors.

China began development of artificial islands in the South China Sea early in 2014 as a defensive measure in response to Barack Obama's 2012 "pivot to Asia" policy of containment of China.

Things escalated when Obama sent B-52's flying overhead of the islands in 2015 along with US navy ships "patrolling" actually conducting surveillance in the South China Sea -a reprise of the 1920's US "gunboat diplomacy" in Chinese waterways.

Now Trump's Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson in his confirmation hearings before the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee further escalated the situation saying, "I would block access to the islands in the South China Sea".

Then White House spokesman Sean Spicer upped the ante saying, "The US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there" in the South China Sea.

Pepe Escobar's analysis put it succinctly, "It's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' there is a serious confrontation between Trump and Xi over 'access' to the South China Sea". [1]

Well so much for Trump "pursuing a new era of peace, understanding and good will".

Yet on a positive note Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a one hour phone conversation this past Saturday focusing on ISIS, trade and Ukraine pointing to a possible summit between the two leaders in the next few months.

Maybe then Putin can use his considerable diplomatic skills to apprise Trump of certain realities that may have escaped the "Donald" i.e. Russia and China are strategic military and economic allies that won't be broken, that NATO provocations on the doorstep of Russia and naval provocations against China in the South China Sea are dangerous that could lead to a nuclear confrontation. Then remind him Russia and China have nuclear arms capability equal to the US and any nuclear war would bring certain annihilation to all.

Hopefully then Trump's notorious short attention span could be expanded to his then ordering a pull back of US and NATO positions that are provocations that could lead to war.

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