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US pursuing ‘expansionist agenda’ in Asia-Pacific: American pundit

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The United States is pursuing an “expansionist agenda” in the Asia-Pacific region, and its position on the South China Sea has “nothing to do with the laws of the sea,” an American political pundit says.

Dennis Etler, professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday while commenting on a report which says that the presence of a US guided-missile destroyer in the area last week infuriated Beijing.

The US Navy sent its USS Lassen on October 27, within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea, a move apparently designed to increase tensions with Beijing.

In response to the US provocation, armed Chinese naval jets conducted training drills over waters near Vietnam in the South China Sea.

“China has responded to the incursion of the US guided-missile destroyer Lassen into territorial waters it claims in the South China Sea by conducting training drills with armed fighter jets over disputed waters near Vietnam,” Etler said.

“The fighters operated out of an airstrip on Sansha (Woody Island) in the Xisha (Paracel) archipelago. Both the Xisha and Nansha (Spratly) archipelagos are claimed by China and other neighboring countries that border the South China Sea,” he added.

“The US refuses to recognize China’s claims and insists it has the right of freedom of navigation wherever it so chooses throughout the South China Sea,” he stated.

“There is a problem however with US intransigence regarding China’s claims. The rival Chinese government on Taiwan, the Republic of China, lays claim to the same territory and has built on and occupied islands in the South China Sea years before the Peoples Republic of China began similar reclamations,” he pointed out.

“In addition the countries that claim the territory today did not even exist at the time China’s claims to the territory were first announced,” he observed.

Ma Ying-jeou, the president of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan

“The president of the ROC on Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou has reasserted the Republic of China’s (ROC) territorial claim to Taiping Island and other islands in the South China Sea, [and] both Chinese authorities staunchly defend their sovereignty over these islands,” Etler said.

“Both Beijing and Taipei cite the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender as supporting their sovereignty over the Nansha or Spratly islands, saying that they regained sovereignty over the islands at the end of the Second World War in 1945,” he stated.

“Taipei, like Beijing, has built infrastructure on islands in the region and has an airstrip, a hospital, and communications and solar energy systems on Taiping Island,” the analyst added.

“Taipei, like Beijing, has also said that ‘the future developments’ in the South China Sea will be carried out ‘with the aim of peace, to make it a hub for humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, and scientific research in the Spratly islands,” he continued.

“The irony of course is that the US has never protested Chinese claims to the South China Sea when they emanate from Taipei, but has a conniption fit when they emanate from Beijing. This double standard fully exposes the hypocrisy of the US position and its lack of legitimacy,” he noted.

“The US selectively challenges China’s presence in the South China Sea to suit its own expansionist agenda which has nothing to do with the laws of the sea, the treaty for which the US has adamantly refused to sign,” the American professor concluded.

Washington accuses Beijing of undergoing a massive “land reclamation” program in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, and says China’s territorial claims of the man-made islands could further militarize the region.

This May 10, 2015 US Navy handout photo shows two F/A-18 Super Hornets (L and R) and two Royal Malaysian Air Force jets, flying above the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operating in the South China Sea. (AFP photo)
This handout photo taken on March 16, 2015 by satellite imagery provider Digital Globe shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. (AFP photo) 

The United States says its surveillance of China’s artificial islands indicates that Beijing has positioned weaponry on one of the islands it has built in the South China Sea.

China accuses the United States of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

Beijing says it is determined to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the South China Sea.

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