by James Holbrooks, Underground Reporter:
Beijing should be ready to “let the US pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes in the South China Sea dispute by force,” an editorial in a Chinese state-run paper warned on Tuesday — less than a week before the International Court at The Hague (ICH) is set to rule on a territorial disagreement between China and the Philippines.
“China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks,” wrote the Global Times, “but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations.”
The dispute is over an island chain in the South China Sea, the Spratlys, and the maritime rights to the waters surrounding them. At the heart of the issue is sovereignty, with both China and the Philippines claiming territorial control.
In June of 2015, China announced that the artificial island chain it had been constructing in the South China Sea — in disregard of territorial claims by other Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia — would be completed within days. In the year that’s followed, the country has built military buildings, ports, and airstrips on the connected atolls.
In October of last year, the U.S. sent the first of what would become a considerable number of warships — and, eventually, even an aircraft carrier — into the South China Sea as a direct challenge to China’s claims in the region.
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