Chinese media slams US warship's sail, netizens demand action
CHINESE media denounced the United States yesterday after Washington sent a warship into disputed South China Sea waters, while netizens filled the Internet with angry diatribes, demanding a far-stronger reaction from Beijing.
But in the US, according to The New York Times, the White House tried to play down the episode, eager to avoid escalating a conflict between the two nations.
"The US could not slow China's pace of building up its islands and reefs by simply flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea," said Sheng Dingli from Fudan University in a China Daily news article yesterday.
"The US should face up to the reality that it is no longer a unipolar world, and (should) seek to engage more with rather than contain China," the professor added.
China should prepare for the worst, the Global Times, one of China's more hawkish newspapers, said in an editorial yesterday.
"This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity," it warned in the editorial.
"China's reaction this time is only so-so, engaged in gabbing while sending some warships to tail the US vessel. Tougher action should be taken," wrote a netizen on Sina Weibo, China's main microblogging site.
Late on Monday, the US sent a guided missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, within 12 nautical miles (22km) of Subi Reef, one of seven artificial islands China has built in the past year in the Spratly archipelago.
"The move was meant to reassure allies in Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines that the US would stand up to China's efforts to unilaterally change facts on the ground by building up artificial islands in the Spratly Island chain," remarked the Times in an article yesterday.
The Philippines and Vietnam are two of the countries making sovereignty claims in the Spratlys, besides China, Malaysia and Brunei. Taiwan is also a claimant.
But, according to the Times, after the Subi episode, the White House directed Department of Defence officials not to say anything publicly about it.
Even Defence Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged the incident at a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting only after being pressed by an attending member.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby told a regular briefing on Tuesday that the US-China relationship is "vitally important" and must improve and grow despite the incident.
The Pentagon said that the Lassen had stayed within the 12-nautical-mile border of the Spratly Island chain for less than an hour.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse said yesterday it was told by a US official that the US Navy will send more warships to the region.
"We will do it again. We sail in international waters at a time and place of our choosing," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.