President Obama never wanted to get embroiled in the South China Sea and he all but handed over control of the large sea to China. This had prompted the Philippine president Duterte from stating as to why the US did not send 5 aircraft carriers to the disputed sea and nip the trouble in the bud. President Trump also played a low-key role in the hope that China would play ball and pressurize the North Korean regime to abandon its missile and nuclear program. He has now realized that the Chinese aren't going to do anything. He has now announced a $ 1.42 arms deal with Taiwan and also upped the scale of Freedom Of Navigation exercises in the South China Sea.

A second US warship the Uss Stethem after the USS Dewey has sailed into the disputed ocean as part of the freedom of navigation exercise. Al Jazeera News Channel has reported this news.

Chinese reaction

The Chinese are not happy with this exercise. They have denounced the US move as a "serious political and military provocation". They have said that the move could further strain relations between the USA and China. The Chinese state News agency Xinhua has reported that foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang mentioned that in response to the US provocation military vessels and fighter planes were sent to ask the warship to leave. The American warship sailed close to the disputed island of Triton which is occupied by China. It scrupulously avoided infringing the 12 km limit of Chinese territorial waters.

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The island is claimed by both the Philippines and Vietnam but for the moment China has the upper hand with de-facto control.

Trump frustrated

After the summit with President Xi, the USPresident Trump had thought that by dangling the carrot of a lucrative trade deal he could take the help of China in putting pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile program. He has realized that Beijing is not going to do anything and is feeling frustrated.The earlier sanctions on North Korea by the Security Council and the USA had failed because China was not factored in. No sanctions without the active inclusion of China can cage the North Korean regime.

Last word

The Americans are sending single warships into the disputed sea. This does not amount to much and at the best is just a symbolic exercise. It changes nothing as China continues to consolidate its hold on the entire South China Sea. The Chinese have built up tremendous military muscle in the islands of this sea and one wonders how the status quo can be restored. It does not look likely.