It’s been increasingly clear that China is unimpressed by the ‘pivot to asia.’ The latest sign of this is the news that Beijing has sent more fighter jets to Woody Island in the South China Sea. Stars and Stripes:
China moved 16 Shenyang J-11 advanced fighter aircraft to Woody Island on April 7, said the defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. He said such a large deployment was “unprecedented,” though it’s not the first time China has sent fighter jets to Woody Island, the largest landmass in the Paracel Islands, which are situated in the hotly disputed South China Sea region.
Positioning military aircraft on the island seems to contradict Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vow not to militarize the South China Sea, a statement he made while visiting Washington, D.C. in February.
U.S. officials have said such deployments, alongside the aggressive buildup of manmade islands throughout the South China Sea, threaten stability in the region. They have repeatedly called for China and other countries that claim disputed territory in the South China Sea, a key international shipping route, not to militarize the land in the area.
China doesn’t seem to care very much what the U.S. thinks, suggesting that Beijing doubts Obama’s seriousness of purpose. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in the Philippines today, trying to give a different impression by announcing the deployment of U.S. troop rotations. But with seemingly every week bringing more reports of complaints about the White House’s cautiousness lodged by top Navy officers, the United States isn’t exactly projecting an image of strength at the moment.