By Kyle Mizokami
Last week, The Guardian announced that China was preparing to send its nuclear missile-armed submarines into the South China Sea. China’s excuse — that it is merely countering American moves in neighboring South Korea — is a flimsy one, intended to paint China as the victim. In reality, China has planned this move for decades.
The People’s Republic of China is in the midst of a territorial grab that has placed itself on one side and virtually all of its neighbors — and the United States — on the other. At stake is freedom of navigation in one of the busiest waterways in the world, and China’s plans for fighting a nuclear war.
Lying off the coast of Southeast Asia, the South China Sea is one of the most strategic and economically vital stretches of water in the world. A third of the world’s merchant traffic passes through the area. It’s also packed with resources, including rich fishing grounds and large reserves of oil and natural gas. The South China Sea functions as a sea border for a number of countries, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
In recent years, China has laid claim to roughly 90 percent of the South China Sea, trampling competing claims by her neighbors. China has used dredging to turn several shoals, reefs, and islets into bustling military outposts.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States split their nuclear weapons between long-range missiles, bombers, and missile-firing submarines. Diversifying ensured that it would be difficult to destroy a country’s nuclear stockpile in a single, surprise attack.
Picture: CSR Report RL33153 China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O’Rourke dated February 28, 2014 (United States Naval Institute News Blog) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons