Watch this Space: China

China's growing naval power has encouraged it to be more assertive

South China Sea tensions rattle China’s neighbours

Chinese leaders like to talk about their country’s “peaceful rise” – and Europe’s financial traumas are giving Beijing plenty of scope to assume the role of a benign new force on the world stage.

President Hu Jintao has presented himself as a “friend in need” during encounters with European supplicants while stopping short, for now, of committing China to a specific contribution.

But China has been showing a very different face to countries closer to home in an increasingly tense confrontation over rival claims to the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea.

It is a region where the peaceful nature of China’s rise is starting to be questioned as it pushes a long-standing maritime claim that stretches deep into South East Asia.

“China is becoming much more confident in the region and there are signs it is becoming giddy with success. It has become much more influential much more quickly than it expected,” says Dr Kerry Brown of the Asia Programme at Chatham House in London.

Vietnam and the Philippines in recent months have seen the snarl of a resurgent regional power that is fast losing patience with the gripes of smaller neighbours over maritime borders.

“If these countries do not want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sound of cannons. It may be the only way for the dispute in the sea to be resolved,” said the state run newspaper, the Global Times, in a recent editorial.

Hard power

Chinese officials have been more restrained in their comments, but foreign ministry spokesmen have issued a series of warnings about what they see as encroachments into Chinese waters.

Beijing says it does want a peaceful solution. But Vietnam and the Philippines say Chinese ships have stepped up harassment of vessels involved in oil exploration and fishing.

China's stance on the South China Sea is making neighbours like Vietnam worried

“The growth of Chinese military spending is beginning to translate into hard power,” says John Hemmings, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.

“This is the first major sign that a more confident Chinese grand strategy is emerging. It is in the South China Sea that there is a real risk of discord between the US and China.”

Source: BBC News Read more, it gets even more interesting.

Opinion:

I have been long saying that China has a different agenda than it is showing to the West. Their track record with Taiwan and Tibet, amongst others, has shown that they are a treacherous and dangerous country. The West will only learn this when it is too late and at great cost of Western civilisation.

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