China has flexed its military strength by sending warships to the disputed islands in the East China Sea. The ships come just days after the Trump administration promised to defend the islands against China, making it clear that they are not backing down from the U.S.
While the disputed islands may appear to be a massive area of desolate rock, many believe the area to be laden with oil and gas reserves. According to Japan, the area has belonged to them as a sovereign territory since the 1800’s. However, China maintains that it has belonged to their nation since “ancient times,” and that their claims to the land cannot be disputed.
The trouble with China’s assertion is that they have also stated the same regarding any other territory that they have feasted their eyes upon. As an example, their claims to the South China Sea has been ruled as illegal by the United Nations.
When discussing the dispute between Japan and China, Donald Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis stated, “I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands. The U.S. will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands,” Mattis said. “As such, Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applies.” Article 5 commits the U.S. to defend Japan or its territories if attacked.
In response to Mattis’ statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said,
“We urge the U.S. side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks… and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.”
Now, with China deploying three warships past the disputed territory of the Senkaku Islands on Monday, it would appear that China is refusing to stand down. As of now, the situation remains at a standstill, however, China is making it quite clear that they will take all steps necessary to protect their empty claims. If such activity continues, it could make the possibility of a looming war a reality.