Beijing warns America’s allies

Hands off the South China Sea! China on Thursday (July 29th) warned the UK against ” wrongdoing As the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth crosses the China Sea towards Japan. ” UK must not tempt fate in the South China Sea Insists the Global Times, the English-speaking daily of the Chinese Communist Party. ” Follow current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles from Chinese islands and reefs “Continues the editorial, in a threatening tone,” the allies of the United States ” to become ” an example of China’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity If their ships behave like American ships. In other words, according to Beijing, if they enter Chinese territorial waters.

From there to imagine a clash similar to that which opposed in June, off the Crimea, in the Black Sea, the Russian forces and a British destroyer, the step is not taken by the British experts. ” China not seeking a direct confrontation with a major US ally in the South China Sea Says Veerle Nouwens, researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. As in the past, the Chinese navy and air force should be content to follow very closely the progress of the British naval group composed of the aircraft carrier, accompanied by two destroyers and two frigates.

London defends itself against any provocation

The Queen Elizabeth has been coordinating exercises with the navies of India, Malaysia and Singapore in recent days, and is due to dock in five Japanese ports in September. “We are not going to the other side of the world to be provocative” a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said. “We will be confident, but not in the confrontation”.

A warning for Australia and Japan

Still, Beijing’s warning is intended to be very clear and also applies, underlines the Global Times, to Australia and Japan. Countries outside the region should use the ” navigation lane In the South China Sea, without seeking to interfere in the territorial disputes between China and the countries of the zone. ” The United States wants to “play a role” in the South China Sea and has made the region a new front line in the struggle between the great powers »Concludes the editorial. ” All other countries outside the region are advised to stay clear of this confrontation to avoid “accidental injury” ».

Landing exercise

Beijing’s warning comes against the backdrop of extensive Chinese military maneuvers carried out this week, including a landing exercise on “enemy beaches” in preparation for a possible invasion of Taiwan. France is not explicitly mentioned in the Global Times editorial, but at least two French naval vessels have crossed in the South China Sea since the start of this year.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of ​​December 10, 1982, the delimitation of the maritime borders of a country can be based on the distance from the coast, with first a zone of 12 nautical miles, designated as a territorial sea, then a contiguous zone extending up to 24 miles, followed by an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles over which States have jurisdiction but where they must allow free passage to the civilian vessels of others country.

The strategy of the “great wall of sand”

The People’s Republic of China considers the South China Sea to be almost entirely its own. To establish its domination, Beijing relies on the theory of the “line in nine lines”, also called “ox tongue”. Its strategy, referred to as the “great wall of sand”, consists of seizing islets such as the Spratleys or Paracels Islands, or even creating artificial islands and transforming them into naval bases. These heavily militarized islands thus act as real aircraft carriers and allow China to claim the exclusive economic zones bordering them.

More than 100 ballistic missile launch silos

China has also recently launched a strengthening of its arsenal of nuclear ballistic missiles, by building 110 new launch silos, near the city of Hami, in Xinjiang. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), satellite images suggest that it is ” the largest »Construction of silos undertaken since those carried out by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons specialists in shock

A shock for the specialists of the nuclear army. For decades, China has pursued a policy of “minimal deterrence,” involving maintaining a relatively limited arsenal that allows it to retaliate against aggressors, but not to wage full-blown nuclear war. The Pentagon estimates that China has around 200 operational warheads – roughly the same number as Britain or France – and only a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles. The United States and Russia have almost 12,000 warheads between them.

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