25 February 2020

US using South China Sea dispute to defend declining status: Analyst

KONFRONTASI - The United States is exploiting territorial tensions over the disputed South China Sea to defend its declining status amid China’s rising power in the Asia-Pacific region, an American writer and retired professor says.

China is “an emerging country with worldwide interest facing an established power (US) which wants to limit the competition from China,” said James Petras, a professor emeritus of sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada.

“China’s clearly become the dominant economic power in Asia and the US is the declining Asian power and the US is using these offshore installations of China as a bogeyman to defend its declining status,” Petras told Press TV on Saturday.

Observers believe America’s efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region is aimed at containing China.

China accuses the United States of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned China on Thursday over construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying Washington will not accept restrictions on movements in the sea.

The United States has accused China of acting “out of step with both the international rules and norms" after Beijing began work to build artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, a disputed group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea.

China, the Philippines and four other countries have been having disputes over ownership and control of the South China Sea for decades.

Kerry, who was addressing a regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said China will obstruct free navigation and overflight in the region by building those islands.

“Secretary of State Kerry is overstating the whole problem,” Petras said. “China is very much interested in defending the waterways, not closing the waterways.”

“China is concerned about the US encirclement of China,” he added. “China has a case for US threats to China, rather than China threat to the United States.”[ptv]

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