An American B-52 bomber on a routine mission over the South China Sea unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China [in the Spratly Island group], senior defense officials said, exacerbating a hotly divisive issue for Washington and Beijing.
The PRC has filed a diplomatic protest, and the Pentagon is investigating the flight.
This is the wrong mindset. We should be making such flights often, at a variety of altitudes, and with a variety of aircraft types. We should be sailing as closely through the Spratlys and might safely be done, with individual ships and with squadrons of them.
The [PRC Defense Ministry] said this and other US operations in the area were “serious military provocations” that endangered Chinese personnel and could cause the militarization of the South China Sea. It added that the Chinese military would take “all necessary measures” to protect China’s sovereignty.
No, the only military provocation is the PRC’s ongoing militarization of the Spratlys, the South China Sea generally, and the East China Sea, as well. Its own militarization activities are all that might “endanger Chinese personnel.”
Finally, the PRC should take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty. That’s not at risk in the South or East China Seas; although Japan’s, the Philippines’, Vietnam’s, Brunei’s, and on and on are certainly at risk.
This isn’t PRC territory, and we—and those other nations—need to be more enthusiastic, more direct, in enforcing that simple fact.