BEIJING – China’s seizure of a U.s. underwater drone is the latest sign that the Pacific Ocean, the dominant power and the rising Asian challenger are on the road to more confrontation after the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office, analysts said Monday.
Chinese political experts said that China seized the glider in the South china Sea is the last week to send a strong warning to Trump not to test Beijing’s resolve in the sensitive issue of Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing considers part of its territory. Meanwhile, smaller countries in Southeast Asia are watching the back-and-forth closely for signs that the US navy dominance may be declining, others said.
Trump’s Dec. 2 interview with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was the first time that an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken on Taiwan leader since Washington broke formal diplomatic relations in 1979, in China’s command. Trump later said he did not feel “bound by a one-China-policy”, unless the US. can pick, trade, or other benefits from China. Beijing regards the recognition that Taiwan has its own head of state as a serious insult.
The drone seizure “is a kind of response of China to the Strengths of the recent provocations on the issue,” said Ni Lexiong, a military expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. “It can be regarded as a warning to countries such as the united states and Japan in their attempts to challenge China’s core interests.”
The Pentagon said a Chinese ship seized the U.S. drone Thursday afternoon in an area that is approximately 92 km (57 miles) northwest of Subic Bay near the Philippines. Several U.S. analysts say that the seizure has occurred within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, which seem to conflict with international law.
China’s ministry of defence said that the navy seized the underwater glider to ensure the safety of passing ships and that would appear to be about the device, the use of unspecified “appropriate means.” Chinese defense ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Monday repeated the ministry of defence objected to what he called the AMERICAN “exploration and research in the Chinese waters.”
State media remained pointedly attack Asset, with the Communist y-controlled Global Times to publish an editorial Monday with the headline: “‘Unpresidented’ Trump, throws oil on the fire.”
“He seemed emotionally upset, but no one knows what he wants to say,” the editorial said. “Trump is not behaving as a president who is the master of the White House in a month. He has no sense of how to lead a superpower.”
Trump had tweeted on Saturday that despite China’s assurance that it would return the drone, the U.S. should “let them keep!” Earlier in the day, that he misspelled “never,” saying: “China steals the Navy of the United States research drone in international waters and rips him out of the water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.” He later sent a corrected tweet.
Columns and tweets aside, the Trumpet will confront as president, an increasingly assertive China wants to expand the reach in the South china Sea, a strategically important area, where about $5 trillion in global commerce each year. A number of China’s smaller neighbors have objected to China’s territorial claims and to look closely at Asset in the processing of the disputed sea.
“These are small countries that realize that the best way to survive and do not grow to the side with one of the great powers,” said Richard Heydarian, an analyst and consultant in the Philippines.
“They are all of the props not only for unpredictability, but also for stormy waters, which the US and China in the first place,” he said.
China claims almost the entire South china Sea as its own with a roughly drawn border known as the “nine-line” runs along the western Philippine islands. Even if the international tribunal in June, largely rejected China’s expansive claims, the Chinese military runs through naval patrols and training flights over the disputed islands in the area and the adjacent East china Sea.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the marine affairs at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the drone incident was “not something that will be taken lightly by the international community.” America’s naval dominance was “slowly being undermined by China,” Koh said, citing the growth in the chinese marine technology and the movements in the disputed waters.
“This is a symptom of a great power rivalry,” he said.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.