South China Sea Standoff
U.S. Applies Pressure In South China Sea, But Beijing Digs In

A top U.S. general says that the Air Force will continue to fly missions over the South China Sea, despite Beijing’s warnings. The NYT:

Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, also urged other nations to exercise their freedom to fly and sail in international airspace and waters claimed by China in the South China Sea “or risk losing it throughout the region.”

“We’ve watched the increased military capability on those islands, whether it’s the fighters, whether it’s the missiles or the 10,000-foot runways. We will continue to do as we’ve always done, and that is fly and sail in international airspace in accordance to international rules and norms,” Robinson told reporters in Australia’s capital, Canberra, where she will address the Royal Australian Air Force’s biennial Air Power Conference next week.

Robinson declined to say how the United States would retaliate if a U.S. plane was shot down by the Chinese.

Meanwhile, satellite imagery analyzed last week shows that China has been filling in land between two islands in the Paracels. And the Chinese government’s rhetoric has been clear: Beijing says it won’t budge.

Things are escalating pretty rapidly, as all sides dig in deeper. Who will blink first?

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