White House Vows to Keep China From Claiming Chinese-Built Islands

US Will 'Defend International Territory From Being Taken Over'

Warnings in China’s state media that attempts to block them from accessing the islands they’ve built in the South China Sea would lead to war appear to have fallen flat in the Trump Administration, as White House spokesman Sean Spicer reiterated the stance, which was initially presented by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during the nomination hearings.

Spicer insisted the US is going to “protect our interests there,” and that this would mean that they would “make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.” Chinese-built islands in international waters have been a source of repeated US condemnation.

US officials have noted in the past that you can expand your territorial waters by building new islands, and while this much is true, there appears to be no limit under international law to building islands as such, and certainly no basis for the US to militarily deny the builders access to those islands.

Both Tillerson and Spicer stopped short of providing an actual plan on how the US thought it might even conceivably stop China using those islands without starting a full-scale war, with Spicer saying that the strategy is still developing, and promising more information in the future. It appears unimaginable, however, that China is listening to all of this and not taking major preparatory steps to resist such action.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • flyingstarts

    surely JCOS & Deep State won’t let this infant play Battleships with our carriers.

    • eric

      Now you are worried about Trump when you have let 3 idiots in row control this country . Any one of those three idiots would be in real trouble now . because we do have both China and Russia standing up now . The last three idiots with their global ideas caused Russia and China to realize they had to do something or be dismembered . They are ready and Trump will not be able to separate them either but NATO is likely to fall apart before any serious confrontation .

  • duglarri

    Kind of weird. Those islands are fully armed air bases, first and foremost. They have air defense systems- that’s what they’re for.

    No one in the military armchair class has even speculated on what would be involved in dislodging the Chinese from those islands; the questions are all around the bigger fish, which is whether China is could get troops to Taiwan.

    And you come back to that anyway, because any move on those islands would likely trigger that Taiwan invasion.

    But it raises a question about who these guys are talking to. Who cares about those damn islands?

    The likely answer: oil people care. Oil people who have deals with Vietnam care.

    Nobody else.

    • eric

      Carriers or air bases is what we are talking about .China has one carrier we have 10 , We have almost 200 airbases spread all over the world , How many has China got . Both China and Russia got a little afraid of NATO after we destroyed Yugoslavia . They feel they better be prepared to defend themselves or they maybe be liberated and destroyed like Yugoslavia was .So they want a airbase on a island , while Russia decided they would be safer controlling the black sea with Crimea . This should not be hard to understand

    • Don

      Baloney. Lots of people care and especially people in the US.

      And don’t be so much in a hurry to say that China is going to take Taiwan. That too amounts to a challenge that involves the concept of MAD.

      I see you Americans are going to need some guidance through these sort of upsets to plans for world hegemony. You’re not going to be able to think clearly outside of your own imagined grandiosity.

      luv from Canada.

    • eric

      I think China considers Taiwan one of it states . I don’t know what the UN says about this , but Taiwan sometimes acts as though they are a independent country . Than China tells them they are not , only a very cocky disobedient state that might get their but kicked . This has been going on for seventy years Taiwan gets to act very independent , And China keeps telling them . They have actually gotten along O.K this way and do a lot of trading together and are much the same people with relatives and friends on both sides .

  • AriusArmenian

    This is beyond insane.
    If Trump keeps pushing this then his ‘make America great again’ will sink like a rock.

    • Don

      This is what ‘Make America Great Again’ means Arius.

      Ordinarily a comfortable majority of the American people would easily come onside with Trump’s tough talk. But in this instance, with Trump’s low popularity, there’s at least a chance of the people adopting an antiwar stance in order to oppose Trump. Slim as it may be when the Republican congress get in line behind their president.

      Some creative thinking: This is why Raimondo keeps building confidence on Trump. He knew all along that Trump would be so unpopular that he wouldn’t be able to get his ducks lined up for another US led war!

      yes/no/maybe?

      And another positive way of looking at this is China won’t directly react but will use it’s economic might to even the score with the US in a peaceful way.

      • eric

        Trump has the makings of the most popular president ever and he will be in 6 months

    • eric

      I think China and Russia are together now ever since they both were humiliated by NATO in Yugoslavia . Russia has been helping China with their self defense every way they can .in every way they can . I think they both have some new weapons that they would be more than willing to show us now just how well they work . Trump is in a much different position than Bill Clinton was when he arrogantly embarrassed both China and Russia . They have been preparing for more than 17 years for the next confrontation with the USA . They think their weapons are maybe good enough now .

  • eric

    China claims these islands or for sure China built them . they are better than a aircraft carrier and a whole lot cheaper too . China perhaps doesn’t like our floating air craft carriers floating around China and their islands either . We criticize many countries for not spending enough on defense and China for spending on their defense Why can’t we just calm down a little and mind our own buisness for a while .

  • RickR35

    Pointless posturing.

  • JimBass56

    Not good. Not good at all.

  • Anti-Empire

    We cannot pay too much attention to any of this until Tillerson is comnfirmed and in place.
    Read chapter 2 of The Art of the Deal to see how Trump approaches things
    One must note that Trump met with Jack Ma and talked about deals, not with Pres. Tsai who passed through the US without much notice.
    Trump’s core idea is to make deals not wars, the war against ISIS excepted. China has been fighting its own Islamic terrorists some of whom apparently have made their way to the Middle East.
    Wait.
    There is mich nuttiness about opposing Trump. It is a great fundraising tool. Every liberal/ progressive organization is trying to be first on the Impeach Trump bandwagon to extract the maximal cash.

    • Don

      The Art of the Deal is economics 101 for beginners, it’s not something that has anything to do with negotiations at the highest levels.

      Something more pertinent to this discussion would be considering that when Trump can’t seal a deal from a position of strength, that’s where the ‘psychopath’ factor comes into play. Remember, a corporate psychopath will not accept defeat. If everybody keeps that in mind then they will be able to imagine the approaching storm clouds.

      This factor has been put on the back burner for a couple of months now, but it’s time to bring it up to the front again now.

      • Anti-Empire

        101 or 102 – it is the wat the Donald thinks about things.
        And inevitably when it comes to Trump, his critics turn to personality not policy. So narcissist, psychopath etc are reliably trotted out – a computer, a rather primitive one, could write this psychobabble.
        Psych is a big deal in higher ed, not only a pseudoscience, at best, but an impediment to thought. It should be abolished from the campuses to the self-help columns of the tabloids, and more thought would thrive in the universities.

        • Don

          Psychopathy isn’t a big factor in the universities because it doesn’t manifest itself in a high enough degree to be a huge factor at the eventual negotiating tables. But it does appear infrequently at the highest levels and that’s what we can refer to as corporate psychopathy. Bernie Madoff and Donald are two great examples. Neither are capalbe of any compassion for the people whose lives they will destroy.

          And so yes, my criticism of Trump is more personality than policy, because no psychopath will ever accept defeat. I guess all I can visualive is a smart enough netotiator across the Table from Trump who can make Trump at least ‘think’ he’s won. It has been done and can be done in some circumstances.

    • novembersneverending

      I’m not so sure he just want to make deals, for instance cancelling NAFTA would hurt many jobs in the USA. I just want to understand better not oppose your argument. http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/presidential-campaign/247649-no-mr-trump-mexico-is-not-killing-us-on-trade

  • Don

    Amazing how fast the reaction can come!

    https://www.rt.com/news/374874-china-icbm-russia-border/

    Or is this to be seen as China being more proactive because of Trump telegraphing his disposition even weeks ago?

  • unam_sanctum

    China has greatly overstepped their bounds, and they know it.
    Eye on a deal restricting them. The war option is lunacy. China
    has no capability of harming the U.S. in any way.
    Russia will not back them on this.

    • Don

      How do you know that Chiina has no option of harming the US in any way?

      All nuclear armed and capable countries play the game the same way. They all respect the concept of MAD.

      Do you think that China doesn’t have the capability of getting a few nukes through to the US west coast? Or if you want to reject it ever coming to that extreme then do you think China could hold it’s own in a conventional war over the Spratley islands? And what about the possibility of Russia becoming involved in a conventional war with China against the US?

      I’m just interested in learning a bit about what makes you people tick?

    • eric

      I think If we destroy China’s island they will maybe destroy all 10 of our aircraft carriers in one single day . I think they will disable them and every thing on them so somebody has to pull them all home . Some thing to humiliate USA and show the world China and Russia’s power .

      • eric

        China claims to have the ability to fire mini EMP explosions . Imagine one of these fired over a air craft carrier all electrical power dead , all planes dead just five thousand personel with no communications , refrigeration or electrical power just floating around with nothing to eat in a couple of days . This would be embarrassing for the greatest super power on earth . And China has several weapons that no body has answers for yet . such as taking down satellites . Russia may have some interesting equipment to . Bill Clinton secretary of state said what’s the point in having all these new great weapons if we are not going to use them .Madeline Albright used them in Yugoslavia and she used them on Russia and China they left Yugoslavia humiliated . But China said they have not forgotten or forgiven what happened to them in Yugoslavia . What goes around comes around . Now Trump has to face both of them , I don’t know if he realizes how determined they both are to gain back what Clinton took .

        • “China claims to have the ability to fire mini EMP explosions . Imagine one of these fired over a air craft carrier all electrical power dead”

          That would indeed be something in the imagination. Do you really think that US military ships and aircraft don’t make extensive use of EMP shielding?

    • eric

      Russia will back China and China will back Russia don’t you see the Chinese in Syria . They are a lot closer than we are to any country accept maybe Israel and Canada . They think they have to be together or NATO will dismember either one of them alone

  • hali karaca

    They shouldn’t allowed to build it first place.
    What can you do now? Destroy it? Then it would be more tricky for Chinese and they will force to react. It will be loosing face and China is not very good when it loose face.
    Obama mistake not to interfere while they were building.
    Another failed policy a d easyly he can say ; no we can’t instead of yes we can.

    • eric

      Some body said they should have not been allowed to build in the first place . Maybe they would not have built if we did not have 10 air craft carries floating around China .. Maybe we should not have bombed Yugoslavia and dismembered that country , Maybe we should have not bombed the Chinese embassy accidently on purpose . Maybe NATO troops should not be allowed to surround Russia . Russia and China are two countries that we do not tell them what they can build or not build . I think they are now both willing to fight to keep the right to make their own decisions . The question is going to be are you willing to fight for the right to tell China and Russia what they must do . I’am not ready to fight for that right .