On January 22, 2018, after US Navy warship, the USS Hopper sailed close to a contested reef west of the Philippines, China warned the US they would take “necessary measures” to protect its sovereignty.
“If the relevant party once more makes trouble out of nothing and causes tensions, then it will only cause China to reach this conclusion: in order to earnestly protect peace in the South China Sea, China must strengthen and speed up the building of its abilities there,” The People’s Daily said in the commentary, according to Reuters.
On May 4, 2018, ABC News reported that for the first time, according to the US CNBC network, China stationed missiles on three outposts in the Spratlys — Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef — which lie between Vietnam and the Philippines.
On one level the move was hardly surprising, given China had already placed missiles on Woody Island further north, and had installed military hardware on another artificial island in the Spratlys.
The maneuver, however, sent an implicit threat to other claimant nations that if they even try to exercise their rights to the Spratly Islands they will come within range of Chinese missiles.
More importantly, though, China’s move represented a more explicit threat to the US, which has maintained an ongoing military presence in the South China Sea for decades, as a counter to Beijing’s growing territorial ambitions.
The US is arguably the only nation with the power and motive to stop China’s military expansion in the area.
After all the South China Sea is one of the busiest shopping lanes in the world.
Some estimates suggest as much as a third of all shipping passes through there.
Gateway Pundit is now reporting that following a successful summit in Singapore between President Trump and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong Un, new data released by Israeli Private Intelligence Firm ImageSat shows that China has removed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles from Woody Island, in the South China Sea.
The unusual and sudden move to remove the missiles from the South China Sea, one of the most critical stretches of ocean in the world, is widely seen by policy experts as a nod of approval to President Trump, following a successful Summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday.
Amid a cancellation of joint US-South Korea military drills near the Korean Peninsula and a decrease of tensions with North Korea, much of America’s attention is likely to be turned to the South China Sea, as President Trump pursues a foreign policy that considers both military force and economics in every foreign affair.