By: Elena Grace Flores
China will turn the South China Sea into a “cradle of war” and threatened an air defence zone there, after its claims to the strategically vital waters were declared invalid. Images and videos showing the Chinese forces preparing for the battle ground have flooded social media. The surprisingly strong and sweeping ruling by a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague provided powerful diplomatic ammunition to the Philippines, which filed the challenge, and other claimants in their decades-long disputes with China over the resource-rich waters. China reacted furiously to the July 12 decision, insisting it had historical rights over the sea while launching a volley of thinly veiled warnings at the United States and other critical nations.
“Do not turn the South China Sea into a cradle of war,” vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters in Beijing, as he described the ruling as waste paper. Liu also said China had “the right” to establish an air defence identification zone over the sea, which would give the Chinese military authority over foreign aircraft.
A similar zone set up in 2013 in the East China Sea riled Japan, the United States and its allies.”Whether we need to set up one in the South China Sea depends on the level of threat we receive,” he said. “We hope other countries will not take the chance to blackmail China.” Whatever the move of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would be, the war with China seems to be proceeding – it just depends on whether it’s targeted against the Filipinos or the Americans.