‘Time for tougher deterrence from China’ as US steps up patrols in South China Sea


Chinese analyst says American forces should have to think twice before going ‘too far’ with their activities in the contested waters

In 2013, China embarked on a massive land reclamation project, expanding seven reefs in the Spratlys into large artificial islands. Photo: People’s Daily
China should reinforce “deterrence facilities” in the South China Sea as the United States and its allies mount a bigger challenge in the contested waters, a prominent Chinese specialist said.

“Tension in the South China Sea will rise in the coming year so we must deploy some defensive facilities that are able to overawe American warships entering nearby waters,” said Wu Shicun, head of the government-affiliated National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

On the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan on Friday, Wu said the US would step up what it called freedom of navigation operations in the area with more frequent and wider-ranging manoeuvres this year.

“The Americans feel that they alone are not enough. They might also bring in allies such as Britain, Australia or Japan for exercises, or even create a regular joint action regime,” he told the South China Morning Post.

China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea and uses the southern island of Hainan as a base for projecting power over and administering islands in the area. But the waters, the world’s busiest trade route, are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The US Navy has conducted 15 freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea since October 2015, sailing warships near China-controlled islands to challenge what Washington calls Beijing’s excessive claims. Washington has called on its allies to do the same, and in September a British warship patrolled near a China-controlled island.