On the 7th of July, two American warships sailed through the Strait of Taiwan in the South China Sea in a direct provocation to China and in violation of America’s own adherence to the One China Policy which has since 1979 seen Washington recognise The People’s Republic of China as the one legitimate Chinese government.
This comes at a time when US tariffs on Chinese imports and reciprocal tariffs from China on US imports are already increasing tensions between the two nations. However, what is unacceptable is for the US to escalate its trade dispute by conducting a lawless violation of China’s sovereignty which threatens to destabilise regional peace. In today’s United States, issues of sovereignty and security are very much dominating headlines and thus, all American political and military leaders will surely have a clear understanding of such matters.
Just as the US warships violated China’s sovereign maritime borders yesterday as they have with increased frequency in recent years, so too on a daily basis do multiple individuals primarily from Latin America try to cross the border into the United States via Mexico without receiving legally documented permission from the US Border Patrol or customs agencies. While some in both Mexico and the United States believe that migration to US soil is a human right under certain circumstances, this does not change the fact that Donald Trump continues to adhere to a strict interpretation of existing laws which affirm the sanctity and inviolability of national borders. In order to bolster this point further, Donald Trump is set to construct a large border wall between the United States and Mexico.
While China of course built its own Great Wall, the most well-known parts of which were constructed during the Ming Dynasty, today it is not raiders from central Asia that China seeks to defend against but instead it is the US Navy which continues to violate Chinese sovereignty before justifying these reckless violations by claiming their right to do so owing to “freedom of navigation”. If Donald Trump refuses to open his land borders because of “human rights”, why should China dismiss her maritime borders due to “freedom of navigation”? Clearly there is a double-standard at play when it comes to American views on the inviolability of national borders.
Imagine then if China did on America’s land border with Mexico what the US continues to do in China’s maritime borders? Imagine further if under Mexico’s President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador who has voiced strong opposition to Donald Trump’s wall, that China partnered with Mexico to dig large tunnels under the Trump border wall, thus allowing Mexicans and others from Latin America easy access to US borders without permission from the US government? Imagine further if borrowing from America’s duplicitous attitude in the South China Sea, China let Mexican engineers dig the penultimate exit from the tunnels in order to claim that China only facilitated the passage of undocumented migrants from the Mexican side and due to a geopolitical partnership with Mexico based on the notion of some people’s definition of “human rights”?
Donald Trump would be predictably furious if this were to happen as would his millions of avid supporters in the United States. It is therefore the epitome of hypocrisy for the US to so flagrantly disregard Chinese sovereignty using its warships and often its warplanes as well. This hypocrisy becomes even more perverse when one sees that the US justifies these illegal and provocative incursions based on so-called “freedom of navigation” or at times because the US seeks to hide behind its alliances with various nations in south east Asia.
China has a policy of openness, diplomacy and dialogue with all south east Asian nations bordering the South China Sea, whether Vietnam, The Philippines or others. It is Beijing’s intent to resolve any disputes locally and without the meddling of a far off US power. Indeed, if not for the US arousing the false hopes of reactionary forces in south east Asia, issues surrounding the South China Sea may well have already been resolved on the model Turkey used in 1936 to resolve the matter of sovereignty in the Turkish Straits.
China, like all other nations is well aware of the heated issue of migration in North America. But as a nation that refuses to meddle in the affairs of others, China knows that the issues facing the US and Mexico must be worked out between the leadership in Washington and Mexico City. There is no chance that Chinese officials would ever meddle into this issue even though Chinese engineering experts are more than capable of giving Mexicans seeking entry into the US if they built a sophisticated tunnel system. China would never do this as such matters run contrary to China’s respect for the sovereignty of all nations and a non-interventionist policy in the disputes of others.
The US should work on exhibiting a similar sense of restraint when it comes to China’s maritime borders. If Donald Trump seeks to make a case to his own nation that border security is essential, he would strengthen his position by not flippantly disregarding the border security of a fellow superpower.