The People’s Republic of China is extending its sea grab nearly to the shores of Malaysia, some 1200 miles south of Shenzhen on the PRC’s southern coast. Last week, the PLA Navy sent three of its heavily armed ships, together with its largest amphibious landing ship, to tool around James Shoal, which is roughly 75 miles from the Malaysian coast, well within the latter’s economic zone; although Brunei has an overlapping claim in the area.
The Chinese task force, which included a guided missile destroyer and two guided missile frigates, was fully capable of attacking and destroying any aircraft or submarines that it might have encountered.
This intrusion occurred on the same day other PRC naval vessels fired on Vietnamese fishing boats in Vietnamese waters elsewhere in the South China Sea, and it came on the heels of a January incident in which another PRC naval ship threatened a Japanese destroyer and helicopter that were patrolling Japanese waters in the East China Sea. In that incident, the Chinese vessel locked onto the Japanese ship and helo with its targeting and guidance radar, preparatory to launching missiles at them.
The PRC previously had only “claimed” two-thirds of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory; however, with this intrusion, they’re plainly intending to seize all of it for themselves.
Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam, among others, are members of ASEAN. Where was—and is—the United States, supposedly a friend of ASEAN and a friend of several of the individual ASEAN nations? Not there. Not anywhere to be found.
Is the PRC’s continued aggressive expansion a result of their read of the United States as a paper tiger? Or are we just leading from behind again? Or is President Barack Obama channeling Sallah?
- Chinese. Very dangerous. You go first.