China threatens foreign ships and planes 'daily' in the South China Sea, but no one is yielding any ground

STR/AFP/Getty ImagesA Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea.
  • China threatens foreign ships and planes in the South China Sea on a “daily basis,” according to members of the Philippine military.
  • Warnings directed at the Philippines are much more menacing than those directed at the US military, leading some experts to question whether or not China is purposefully calibrating its responses to intimidate smaller, weaker claimant states.
  • Both the armed forces of the Philippines and the US military continue their operations as planned, disregarding Chinese threats and warnings.

China is threatening foreign ships and planes operating in the South China Sea on a “daily” basis, according to the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“It’s a daily occurrence,” General Carlito Galvez Jr. told the press Monday, the Inquirer reported. “Our pilots just reply, ‘We are just doing our routine flight on our jurisdiction and territory.'”

The office of the president of the Philippines praised its country’s pilots for disregarding Chinese warnings and threats, which can be particularly aggressive.

“Philippine military aircraft, I’m warning you again: Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences,” a disgruntled Chinese voice shouted over the radio as a Philippine military plane flew over the hotly contested South China Sea recently, according to a BBC report.

The Chinese also challenge the US military. Last Friday, the Chinese military radioed a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane six times as it flew past Chinese strongholds in the Spratly Islands. “Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” the voice on the radio directed.

A US Navy pilot called the radio queries “routine,” adding that “it really has no effect on any operations or anything we do.”

Chinese radio responses to US and Philippine military aircraft overflights can be heard in the following video clip, a piece of the BBC report that was tweeted out this past weekend:

The tone of the radio query directed at the US aircraft is noticeably softer than that of the call aimed at the Philippine plane. Nonetheless, the US military had some strong words for China, which is rapidly expanding its military presence in the South China Sea through the deployment of jamming technology, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and other defence equipment intended to tighten China’s grip on the territories.

And it’s not just planes. China also issues warnings to foreign ships, especially when the US Navy decides to conduct a freedom-of-navigation operation in the area.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists that China is defending its position, asserting that China will “never attack others unless we are attacked.”

China’s vast claims to the South China Sea were discredited by an international arbitration tribunal two years ago, but Beijing rejected the ruling as well as the authority of the tribunal.

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