CNN reported on June 5 that an unnamed American defense official said that two American B-52 bombers approached the disputed Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Monday.
Victoria Hight, spokesperson of the US Air Force in the Pacific, denied the approach, and Pentagon spokesperson Chris Logan said that the two B-52s were flying from the Andersen AFB in Guam to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as part of a "continuous bomber mission". But the US Department of Defense later rectified the information saying the flight from Guam to Diego Garcia took place on Monday.
This was the third time in a week for the US to have assigned bombers to approach the South China Sea, and the fifth entry by a B-52 since April 22.
The Japanese magazine The Diplomat published an article titled The South China Sea Conundrum for the United States on June 5, which said "it’s over in the South China Sea. The United States just hasn’t figured it out yet".
According to the article, the South China Sea is a stalking horse for broader U.S. concerns over the rise of Chinese military and economic power. The installations that China has built across the region are of negligible economic value to the United States. They offer little real threat to global maritime trade patterns. Their direct military value is questionable.
America's commitment to the South China represents its commitment to its regional allies. Unfortunately, it didn't fully play its role. If it had played its role, no country in the region would believe that the U.S. would engage in a war in order to remove the Chinese facilities, which it won't.
U.S. commitment to the South China Sea is also a proxy for its commitment to regional allies. Unfortunately, it performs this role altogether inadequately. Few, if any, countries in the region believe that the United States would go to war in order to forcibly eliminate China’s installations; indeed, we already know that the United States will not do so, according to the article.
The article said that apart from perhaps the Baltic or the Black Sea, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force fight at greater disadvantage in the South China Sea than anywhere else on earth. Chinese aircraft and missile can take advantage of land bases in order to project power across the region. China can multiply the numbers of these systems as it sees fit. While U.S. military technologies remain more sophisticated than Chinese, the trendlines for regional military capabilities are not positive for the United States. Thus, the United States is left with a conundrum.
The U.S. can take steps to harass development of Chinese installations in the South China Sea, but it will not prevent China from building those installations. It is past time for the United States to figure out what matters in its relationship with China, and to make difficult choices about which values have to be defended, and which can be compromised.
Advocates of confrontation, whatever the more substantial merits of their position, should take great care in how they portray the value trade-offs associated with competing in the South China Sea specifically, where China enjoys enormous advantages that will only grow over time, the article said.
China made it clear that America's frequent military activities in the South China Sea are the root for the regional "militarization". America's criticism of China's normal construction within its sovereignty on the South China Sea features is just thief crying "Stop thief".