This is what the Chinese government should have taken heed of before doing anything that could provoke tensions between countries bordering its strategically vital maritime region. Yet, on May 18, The People’s Liberation Army Air Force announced that it had successfully organized the takeoff and landing of several bombers, including the nuclear-capable H-6K, on an unspecified island (which was believed to be Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands). Given the scene of brewing conflicts in the South China Sea, the move triggered immediate responses from the superpower’s neighbours and Washington; Vietnam and Philippines quickly raised their concerns about China’s militarisation of the region, and Washington warned that there would be “unspecified consequences”. Whether this really is a strategic step in China’s bigger plan to conquer the disputed territory and gain an upper-hand over the US is still in question, but this latest move does not help the complicated, already-aggressive situation in the region.
Written by Uyen Le-Khuc