Jon Rogers — Daily Express Jan 13, 2017
State-controlled newspaper the Global Times warned incoming President Donald Trump he would be “foolish” to stop China from accessing the islands.
The paper wrote on its website: “Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish.”
It added that the US “has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea”.
The warning comes after Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said such access should be restricted.
But the Global Times comment added that Mr Tillerson “had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories”.
The statement also added: “If Trump’s diplomatic team shapes future Sino-US ties as it is doing now, the two sides had better prepare for a military clash.”
The 64-year-old former ExxonMobil chief made his remarks during his Senate confirmation hearing last Wednesday where he said that China’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea were “extremely worrisome”.
He said: “Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea.”
Referring to the reunification of Crimea and Russia, which took place following a referendum in 2014, he said: “It’s taking of territory that others lay claim to.”
Mr Tillerson added: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”
China has laid claim to much of the South China Sea which is also claimed, in part, by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
In a move that has been widely condemned, China has built various artificial islands in the sea which have been used for military purposes.
The latest war of words is part of larger diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the area.
In October, a US warship sailed near islands claimed by Beijing, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area. The Chinese Defence Ministry later called the move “illegal” and “provocative”.
Last year, judges at the arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of Manila, stating that China has caused irreparable harm to the ecosystem of the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands and breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights.
China quickly declared The Hague’s decision “null and void” and soon started building an artificial island on Scarborough Shoal, just northeast of the Spratlys.