The South China Sea is a vast expanse in the eastern Pacific. It is bordered by a number of nations including the Philippines, Vietnam, Borneo as well as China. The communist Nation has claimed 80 percent of the South China Sea. The Philippines went to the International Court which ruled against China. The Chinese, however, rejected the findings of the Tribunal. None of the peripheral powers, including the USA could do anything to see that China accepts the verdict. Beijing has long claimed almost the entire South China sea.

China erects military installations

China has reinforced their claims with massive construction and reclamation of islands right under the nose of the USA. The Asia Maritime Transparency initiative which is a part of Washington's Centre for Strategic and International studies has concluded that China has completed its construction work on the Spratly Islands.The Chinese have built military airfields and radar stations at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs. Satellite images confirm this.

The Spratly Islands are 800 miles from the Chinese coast and yet the Chinese have been able to erect military installations. This has reinforced their claim to the entire ocean. The Chinese have also constructed hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers.All this has happened with the knowledge of the USA.

One wonders why the USA did not intervene earlier.

Duterte is angry

Obviously, President Duterte is incensed at the lack of American attempts to control China. He squarely blames the USA for this. Rex Tillerson had earlier during his confirmation proceedings stated that China should be denied access to the Islands. The Chinese had reacted angrily.

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Now the Trump administration has changed its tune and the dialogue is more conciliatory. The latest statement of Tillerson only states "must be capable of limiting China's access to and use of"

Future

The US has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, but this is just a belated act. The Chinese are firmly entrenched in the South China Sea. It is a chilling thought that almost two dozen structures on the islands have been designed to house long range surface to air missile. How will the USA under Trump react to all this?