China has responded negatively to the White House’s comments about barring them from Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea, saying they view their claims to the islands they built as “irrefutable” and that they don’t think the US has any business making decisions about the South China Sea in the first place.
The US has been complaining about China’s island building for years, insisting that constructing islands in international waters does not expand maritime sovereignty. While this is true, there does not appear to be any legal basis to block China from building islands in international waters, nor to militarily bar them from accessing the islands.
The Trump Administration has picked up the rhetoric surrounding the islands dramatically over what the Obama Administration had said, to the point where some are questioning whether they are being intentionally bellicose, or just struggling to articulate their position.
Whichever the case, China has been very clear where they stand on the matter, having no intention of ceding islands they built to the United States or anyone else. At the same time, the long-time US attempts to insinuate themselves into maritime disputes within the South China Sea haven’t gone well in the past year, with the Philippines openly complaining that they see the US efforts at risking sucking them into a US-China war, which they want no part of.
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