WASHINGTON – China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea and its confrontational position in conflicts with its neighbors are seen by experts as a crisis that will be of a greater magnitude, especially for the United States, than the issue of whether to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Asian analyst Michael Klare says China’s aggression will be a “potential crisis of far greater magnitude (than Iran) and potentially far more imminent than most of us imagine.”
“China’s determination to assert control over disputed islands in the potentially energy-rich waters of the East and South China Seas, in the face of stiffening resistance from Japan and the Philippines, along with greater regional assertiveness by the United States, spells trouble not just regionally, but potentially globally,” Klare recently told the Asia Times.
Klare acknowledges a crisis from bombing Iran would create considerable disorder in the Middle East and threaten global oil production and shipping.
However, a crisis in the East or South China Seas would pose an even “greater peril” due to the prospect of a U.S.-China military standoff that could threaten Asian economic stability.
The U.S. is committed by treaty to assist Japan and the Philippines in the event of an attack.
The U.S. commitment goes beyond its military alliances and includes the close trade ties with the Asian countries.
“With so much of the world’s trade focused on Asia, and the American, Chinese and Japanese economies tied so closely together in ways too essential to ignore, a clash of almost any sort in these vital waterways might paralyze international commerce and trigger a global recession – or worse,” Klare said.
While such a conflict may seem unlikely, there are ominous indications a clash could occur soon.
China has committed its military to enforce claims on the East and South China Seas that also are made by Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The claims include what Klare calls a “constellation” of uninhabited atolls and islets.
Adding to the potential for conflict has been the announced U.S. policy of “rebalancing” its forces in the Pacific, which has increased tensions in the region.
The U.S. supports the claims of the various countries involved in disputes with China and also backs India, which recently entered into contracts with Vietnam for mineral and oil exploration in the East and South China Seas.
Like the U.S., India also is moving naval assets into the region to enforce its right of exploration.