Recent aggressive moves by China in the South China Sea inspired the Trump administration yesterday to impose new sanctions against key Chinese nationals. In a related event, China reportedly launched an aircraft carrier-killer missile over disputed waters in response to encroachment of a US spyplane.
The United States State Department, in association with the Department of Commerce, has established new restrictions on 24 Chinese companies and unspecified executives related to those firms, in response to those companies participating in the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea. These islands are used by China as temporary military staging areas, but also to expand their claim on territorial waters. Waterways are considered international unless they are within 12 nautical miles of a coastline; by constructing artificial islands, China is claiming those islands as part of their coast and using their new border to dispute international waters and in some cases waters which are owned by other nations.
While China has been growing its footprint for years, the Trump administration has recently been pressing back, following criticism for its weak response to the Hong Kong crackdown. Recent military maneuvers by the Chinese in the vicinity of Taiwan, a U.S. ally, have further heightened tensions.
China’s expansionist efforts – already in motion during the Obama administration and his deeply conciliatory stance toward that nation’s aggression (as noted favorably by the left-leaning Brookings Institution) – have grown more dramatic still in response to the many opportunities afforded them by President Trump. Following their success at cementing their Belt and Road plan along not just one path but two, they have become so open about their efforts to claim new land that the Philippines reversed course two months ago, abandoning plans to cut defense ties with the U.S. out of apparent fear of Chinese military action.
The South China Morning Post reports that the Chinese military launched a pair of missiles into the sea yesterday, following a claim of a Tuesday breach of a no-fly zone by a U.S. spyplane. One of the missiles, a
DF-26B, was capable of being equipped with a nuclear warhead, while the other, a DF-21D, was designed as an anti-ship missile capable of destroying an aircraft carrier.