At a recent academic conference, two Chinese officials repeated warnings about incursions into the South China Sea, a region over which it claims jurisdiction.
The warning was aimed specifically at the United States which insists, as the U.N has said, is international waters.
Michael Byers (PhD) is an author, a professor of International Relations at the University of British Columbia, and is Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law.Listen
The officials warned that China may take “more countermeasures” if the U.S. continues its “freedom of navigation” patrols through the area.
According to a news story in the Sydney Morning Herald, another official blamed the U.S. for trying to get other countries like Australia to join the patrols.
So far Australia has only stated that China should uphold international law.
Professor Byers says these statements do not appear to be an escalation of tensions. However, others point out that if an incident were to occur such as a ship or plane collision, especially if that involved loss of life, the situation could dramatically change for the worse.
Other nations in the region are also concerned that at some point they may be forced to choose between siding with China, or with the U.S.