US imprudently making trouble out of nothing: China Daily

The USS Lassen during an exercise on March 12, 2015.
The USS Lassen during an exercise on March 12, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on Oct 28, 2015, China Daily calls on the United States to refrain from making further provocations.

By sending its warship within 12 nautical miles of China's isles in the South China Sea, the United States is raising tensions in the waters and sending a dangerous signal to the region.

On Tuesday, the US warship USS Lassen illegally entered waters near Subi Reef, part of China's Nansha Islands, without the permission of the Chinese government.

Such a blatant provocation was naturally met with strong condemnation from China, which deems the US move as a threat to China's sovereignty and security interests.

To justify this reckless move, high-ranking US officials have been raising their voices recently accusing China of militarising the South China Sea and claiming the US operation is to exert "freedom of navigation" in the waters.

These are just pretexts the US is using to mislead the public and confuse right with wrong.

China has repeatedly said it has no intention of militarising the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. All its deployments at the islands and reefs are necessary, limited and defence-oriented.

As a nation that relies heavily on the sea lanes in the waters, militarisation would threaten, instead of serving, its interests in the region.

As to freedom of navigation and overflights in the waters, they have never been a real issue of concern.

China has reiterated many times that its reclamation work is primarily for civilian purposes and does not in any way hamper freedom of navigation.

Yet, these words have apparently fallen on deaf ears.

By challenging a threat that does not exist, the US move is creating a bigger and more real threat itself. By flexing its muscle on China's doorstep, the US is using coercion to challenge China's legitimate territorial claims.

The US warship displays exactly who is the real hand pushing the militarisation of the South China Sea.

The US' so-called freedom of navigation operations also go against its own public statements that it takes no stand over the territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The US calls itself a Pacific country and claims it too has a stake in peace and stability in the region.

If that is the case, it should be playing a more constructive role in the waters, rather than stirring the waters at the risk of regional peace and stability.

If the US still deems itself a responsible power, it should refrain from making further provocations.

* China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers seeking to promote coverage of Asian affairs.