Tension Mounts Between China and U.S. in South China Sea

Randi Nord | The Pontiac Tribune

Already engaged in a major South China Sea dispute with China, the US just announced a massive $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwain.

The deal, one that China adamantly opposed, includes surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, US Navy frigates, assault vehicles, and other military equipment.

South China Sea Dispute


The United States has announced a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwain– the first in four years. China is adamantly opposed to the sale and intends on sanctioning the US firms involved.

The deal will include surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, US Navy frigates, assault vehicles and other equipment.

John Kirby of the State Department claims that the US is following the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 which requires the United States to provide arms to Taiwan in order to defend themselves. The Six Assurances to Taiwan of 1982 mandates that the US will indefinitely arm Taiwan defensively as needed but will not play a “mediation role” between Taiwan and China.

It is important to note however that the United States does not recognize Taiwan as a state independent of China.

The US Pacific Fleet Commander– Admiral Scott Swift–  is worried of a possible arms race throughout the region as China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim parts of the South China Sea. The majority is claimed by China who has over $5 trillion in world trade ships traveling through the region each year. An estimated ⅕ of which travel between China and US ports.

Vietnam is also arming itself for defense against China.

Hanoi’s military– Division 308– has started patrolling the South China Sea with submarines purchased from Russia. Division 308 reportedly hopes to purchase more advanced weapons such as maritime fighter planes, jet fighter-bombers, patrol drones. For this, Division 308 has been reaching out to Russia, India, Europe, Japan, Israel– even the United States.

If all goes as planned, this will be the country’s largest acquirement of arms since the Vietnam war.


China is currently building seven islands in the South China Sea which appear to have an airstrip according to satellite images.

A BBC reporter was reportedly threatened by the Chinese military recently while trying to acquire information on the islands’ construction– something China seeks to keep secret.

The US believes China’s  plan for the islands is to use them to gain control of more territory throughout the region.

There is clearly a growing territory dispute throughout the South China Sea, but China does not see it this way. The country’s Defense Ministry claims the other countries are simply making “a big show” and “at the same time, only expressing remarks to create tensions, in an attempt to sow confusion and muddy the waters.”

The US arms deal with Taiwan is expected to be approved by Congress in 30 days. Republicans and Democrats alike want to see Taiwan equipped to defend itself against China’s growing military.

John Kirby maintains that the arms deal should not affect our relationship with China, but China plans on filing sanctions against the US firms involved in the sale.

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.