It would be almost impossible to give the entire backdrop of the implications of the news today in one short article, but I will try. This news being the fact that the Chinese government has sent a direct warning to Japan not to participate with US Naval activity.
If you are not familiar with the political implications of this or the history of the tensions in the South China Sea, here is a quick breakdown of recent events leading to today.
The South China Seas are home to several small, remote islands which are otherwise uninhabited. These islands essentially have no jurisdiction or ties to any country, there are just sitting there. But in recent decades, with China host the largest Navy in the region, the Chinese military has begun to develop these islands in the Navy Bases.
The problem is these islands do not belong to China, they just happen to exist in something called “The South China Sea”. The problem is these Chinese military islands are closer to Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines that they are China and seeing what these islands can become, these countries want the islands for themselves.
The dispute over who or who does not own the land has gotten especially heated over the last few months – it even made it to the international court system. This past July, international courts refused to recognize China’s land claims in the South China – including its bases: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/13/world/asia/south-china-sea-hague-ruling-philippines.html?_r=0
Might not surprise you to learn that China was not too happy about this and refused to recognize the international courts decision. Not only will they keep their bases/land, they have continued to develop more islands for strategic military purposes. As recently as 8/3/2016, China has even said they are willing to defend their claims by shows of force: https://www.rt.com/news/354454-china-sea-war-warning/
One of the odd results of tension with China has been that United States, once bitter enemies with Vietnam, now directly arms them with munitions. We just lifted a decades long arm ban with the country on May 23rd – simply to give them weapons to defend itself against “Chinese aggression”: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-obama-idUSKCN0YD050
Now, as of 8/10/2016, Vietnam has for the first time strategically moved US manufactured rocket launchers into position in a show of force against China: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-vietnam-idUSKCN10K2NE
Philippines, one of the major drivers to bring China in front of the international court to begin with, is now threatening to leave the United Nations. Though this is being done for several reasons one of the primary ones is that the country feels as though the organization has looked out for their nations interest in the past – leading to the situation today: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37147630
None of the above still addresses the threat of North Korea, which inadvertently leads to the news of today with Japan. You may have heard in the news for the last several months how North Korea has been testing – and largely failing – to produce and intercontinental ballistic missile. However, one of their most recent tests, on 7/28/2016, ended with a missile landing directly in Japanese waters: http://in.reuters.com/article/northkorea-missile-idINKCN10E00E
As a result, Japan put its Navy on the highest threat alert possible – effective for a 3 month time period: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missile-idUSKCN0YL10J
For the last several months, North Korea has been test firing missiles and, as of 7/28/2016, has even declared war against the United States: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/07/28/north-korea-united-states-relations/87659264/
As far as international relations go, generally speaking, people are trying to get China to step up to the table and ‘take control’ of North Korea and that whole mess of a situation they have going on over there. Diplomatic ties between the US and North Korea has been suspended and you may not know it, but North Korea has already declared War on the United States: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/07/28/north-korea-united-states-relations/87659264/
The fear with asking China to do that could mean that North Korea and China might become more allies then enemies, at least compared to western standards.
Just happening today, 8/22/2016, as reported by Russia Today, we have news that China has warned Japan against joining US freedom of navigation stunts: https://www.rt.com/news/356695-china-warns-japan-red-line/
What does China mean by this? Earlier this year, the United States, Philippines, Australia conducted the largest “war games exercise” in history just outside the area of the South China Sea – the area of all this conflict. To put it in blunt terms, this was essentially nothing more than a glorified ‘military parade’ on water meant to intimidate China: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/asia-pacific/2016/04/04/us-philippine-war-games-begin-china-warns-outsiders/82636000/
Except, not only did China not back down, they launched war games of their own, conducting missions at the same time and recruited Russia to join: https://www.rt.com/news/345332-china-warships-us-drills/
Now, of course, China is warning Japan to stay out of it altogether – just weeks after a test fired ballistic missile landed just off their coast.
This article (Chronology of Events In The South China Sea’s Leading To The Announcement Today – China Warns Japan Against Participation In US Navy Drills) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4