World View: U.S. and China Threaten Each Other on South China Sea

World View: U.S. and China Threaten Each Other on South China Sea

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Syrian regime pleads with Russia for economic aid
  • Russia sending three naval vessels and 360 marines to Syria
  • U.S. and China issue belligerent statements on South China Sea
  • Seven Minutes of Terror on Sunday Evening

Syrian regime pleads with Russia for economic aid

A boy plays on the gun of a destroyed Syrian army tank partially covered in the rubble of the destroyed Azaz mosques north of Aleppo (CNN)
A boy plays on the gun of a destroyed Syrian army tank partially covered in the rubble of the destroyed Azaz mosques north of Aleppo (CNN)

Senior Syrian officials are in Moscow pleading for financial loans andsupplies of oil products. When asked by reporters, Syrian FinanceMinister Mohammad al-Julaylati refused to disclose the sum of the loanSyria is seeking:

“We have asked Russia for a hard currency loan toallow us overcome the current problems, and they promised toconsider our request. We need some additionalresources. Countries in such situations usually ask for foreignloans.”

Syria hopes to receive the loan money within weeks. AP

Russia sending three naval vessels and 360 marines to Syria

On Friday, Russian news agencies quoted a top military source assaying that Russia was sending three naval vessels and up to 360marines to Syria. The reports claimed that the vessels, which arealready in the Mediterranean, will arrive in Tartus this week or earlynext week with supplies for the Russian base. Analysts are trying tois that Russia is sending in troops to intervene militarily on theside of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Another possibility is thatRussia is supply weapons to the regime. Another possibility is thatal-Assad is stepping down, and Russia is evacuating him and his familyto Moscow. Another possibility is that the ships are just there areas a precaution, ready to support the al-Assad regime in case ofmilitary action by Turkey. Jerusalem Post

U.S. and China issue belligerent statements on South China Sea

Tensions between China and its neighbors, especially Vietnam andPhilippines, have been rising substantially in the last few months, asthe China has been increasingly using its military power to enforceits planned annexation of the entire South China Sea region, includingareas that have historically been sovereign territory of othercountries. Last week, China permanently established a military basein its newly established Sansha City in the midst of the South ChinaSea.

On Saturday, the tension between the U.S. and China took another spikeupward, as both countries issued belligerent statements regarding theSouth China Sea. The statement from the U.S. State Dept. said thefollowing:

“As a Pacific nation and resident power, the UnitedStates has a national interest in the maintenance of peace andstability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation,and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We do nottake a position on competing territorial claims over land featuresand have no territorial ambitions in the South China Sea; however,we believe the nations of the region should work collaborativelyand diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, withoutintimidation, without threats, and without the use of force.We are concerned by the increase in tensions in the South ChinaSea and are monitoring the situation closely. Recent developmentsinclude an uptick in confrontational rhetoric, disagreements overresource exploitation, coercive economic actions, and theincidents around the Scarborough Reef, including the use ofbarriers to deny access. In particular, China’s upgrading of theadministrative level of Sansha City and establishment of a newmilitary garrison there covering disputed areas of the South ChinaSea run counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolvedifferences and risk further escalating tensions in theregion.”

There was an immediate response from China’s Foreign Ministry:

“On August 3, the US Department of State issued aso-called press statement on the South China Sea. The statementshowed total disregard of facts, confounded right and wrong, andsent a seriously wrong message. It is not conducive to efforts bythe parties concerned to uphold peace and stability in the SouthChina Sea and the Asia-Pacific region at large. The Chinese sideexpresses strong dissatisfaction of and firm opposition to it.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Seaislands and adjacent waters. This is supported by clear historicalfacts. Moreover, China set up the office governing the Xisha,Nansha and Zhongsha Islands under the Province of Guangdong in1959 to exercise administrative jurisdiction over the islands andreefs of the Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha Islands and adjacentwaters. The recent establishment of the Sansha City is a necessaryadjustment made by China to the existing local administrativestructure and is well within China’s sovereign rights. …

Now that the global economy is weak and turbulence still persistsin some countries and regions, the Asia-Pacific has emerged as arelatively stable and most dynamic region underpinning worldeconomic recovery. The United States needs to follow the trend ofthe times and respect the shared aspiration and consensus ofcountries in the region for peace, stability and development. Itshould respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, andact in a way that contributes to stability and prosperity of theAsia-Pacific and not otherwise.”

Nationalism and fury have been growing throughout the region,especially in China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. U.S. State Department and China’s Foreign Ministry

Seven Minutes of Terror on Sunday Evening

Curiosity Rover (NASA)
Curiosity Rover (NASA)

On Sunday evening, NASA’s rover Curiosity is will land on Mars, withactual touchdown scheduled for 10:17 PM Pacific Time. The landingwill require a complex sequence of steps of more than Rube Goldbergcomplexity, involving a huge supersonic parachute and a “sky crane”that gently lowers Curiosity to the Mars surface in what’s beingcalled “Seven Minutes of Terror.” Watch the YouTube video now, andthen watch NASA TV online starting at 8:30 pm PT / 11:30 PM ET.YouTube andCNET and Futurity and NASA TV

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