China has always respected the freedom of navigation and overflight all countries enjoy under international law. But now China has been structurally opposed, under the flag of freedom of navigation & overflight.
A possible direct military stand-off between the USA and China, even though the tensions are high, the risk of escalation is actually quite low. However many political analysts see the conflict between the both countries over the South China Sea potentially more dangerous than the disputes NATO and Russia in Europe?
Up to 33% of the world naval freight traffic volume goes through the South China Sea. Over $5 trillion of world trade transits annually through the South China Sea. About 24% of this volume are US trade interests.
Over 75% of the Middle Eastern oil shipments to the Pacific region pass through these disputed waters. About 40% of this volume is going to China.
More importantly, over 100 islands and reefs make it easy to efficiently control the shelf which holds of over 5.4 billion barrels of oil and over 55.1 trillion cubic meters of gas, according to data of the US Department of Energy. A reason for not to allow the USA to disrupt the status quo in the South China Sea.
Reuters reported that China has nearly finished building almost tow dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.
Washington has not changed its position on the ‘disputed territories’ and ‘defined water zones’ in the South China Sea with the election of Donald Trump. However the new US Defense Secretary claims there is no need for large-scale US-actions in the South China Sea.
To be on the safe side, Beijing warns the Pentagon against planned military maritime patrols in the South China Sea.
CBS / AA Magnum News 2017.