- As the Chinese military increased their presence in the South China Sea, Washington officials said that China also attempted to militarize Scarborough Shoal
- According to the Pentagon, there are a dozen security vessels in the area
- Following the ruling of the Arbitration Court on the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, the latter still does not recognize the ruling and considers it as not binding and illegitimate
Washington officials said that China is noticeably increasing their military presence in the South China Sea as they continue their land reclamation projects in the areas near Scarborough Shoal.
Located at the northeastern part of Spratlys Island, Scarborough Shoal is claimed by China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. As a strong ally of the Philippines, the US has maintained that attempts to increase military presence in the shoal would cross a “red line”.
According to Pentagon officials, China has just crossed the red line as intelligence reports stated that there are now a dozen Chinese security vessels in the area.
At the same time, Chine has also allowed hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels to harvest the resources in the rich waters around the shoal. China’s strategy was similar when it claimed the Senkakus islands, which was also claimed by Japan.
Last March, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping talked about the issue in which the US warned China to stop its militarization of Scarborough shoal. The US also pointed out on the fact that the shoal is proximate to the Philippines.
‘The signaling from the US side was that this was serious,’ said a former US official in an interview.
Last month, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against the nine-dash line of China in the South China Sea which is its basis for its territorial claims in the area. Despite this, China does not consider the ruling as legitimate and binding as they have stated that they will only resolve the issue bilaterally with the Philippines.
Following the ruling, both China and the US increased their combat patrols in the region. According to released satellite images, China is building up its military present in the Spratly archipelago while also establishing new aircraft hangars at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs.
The South China Sea is known as an international passage for trade. Although China is claiming most of the areas, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea. - Kami Media