The South China Sea: Beyond the Smoke ‘n Mirrors

As the American Empire continues to intensify its many-fronted aggression against China, the South China Sea has become a potential flashpoint. The latest “freedom-of-navigation” (translation: freedom-of-provocation) sail-past by a US Navy destroyer was “expelled” by PLA forces, Chinese media reported. More confrontations are expected in that strategic maritime stretch.

Despite the importance of the South China Sea (SCS), many onlookers remain unclear about what’s been going on there. As tensions continue to bubble, together with misunderstandings, it’s time to clear the air. The story is basically very simple. It is also something the Western mainstream media (MSM) have done their best to hide for decades. It goes as follows.

The SCS is home to the world’s busiest and most important trade lifelines. It connects the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Africa with dynamic eastern Asia, the chief engine of global economic growth. Some 80% of China’s trade, including vital oil imports, pass through its waters. Asian nations have territorial disputes there, but have long kept them manageable.

That is, until the Americans began targeting China as a primary foe (sharing the honors with Russia) and initiated their “Pivot to Asia” (to contain China) in 2011. That quickly concentrated minds in Beijing. With the US Navy able to choke off its SCS lifelines virtually at will, China decided on a crash course of self-defense. The Chinese rolled out the Belt & Road Initiative, in part to open land-based trade routes across EurAsia. And they moved to assert longstanding sovereignty claims over much of the SCS and fortified strategic islets at world-record speed.

The US Empire and its MSM marketing arm rushed to portray Beijing’s defensive moves as aggression – against China’s smaller neighbors as well as Washington’s presumedly divine right to call the shots in Asia. It tried to stir Southeast Asian governments against Beijing, and its warships repeatedly and provocatively sailed into SCS waters to “uphold freedom of navigation.” As the Empire more recently toughened its rhetoric and actions against China, temperatures look set to rise further.

Chinese perspectives on the South China Sea are seldom available from Western media, not least because MSM are vehicles for largely self-serving Western viewpoints. But keeping SCS shipping lanes open is a core interest of China — simply because it is a matter of national survival. It’s an issue that brooks no compromise. Chinese actions in the SCS are much more about self-defense than aggression or expansion.

On top of all that, we are talking about the South CHINA Sea. Americans can get a taste of how the Chinese feel by imagining that the Chinese Navy has been conducting regular freedom-of-provocation patrols off the California coast, or in the Gulf of Mexico — and for decades.