Amid brewing tensions in the West Philippine Sea, the head of Japan’s Navy warned of inevitable conflict or even war in the future should China be allowed to expand its influence with the continued construction and eventual use of its artificial islands in the disputed areas, ABS-CBN reported.
At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace forum in Washington on Wednesday, Maritime Self-Defense Force commander Admiral Tomohisa Takei said that the presence of these artificial islands will undoubtedly extend China’s “sphere of military influence” and pose a threat not only against its rival claimants but also to global shipping.
“An unexpected incident at sea can occur as a result,” he warned.
How to Counter China’s Expansion
With the looming threat of Chinese expansion, Takei said Beijing’s smaller neighbors should band together as a united front against the Asian giant.
He urged the navies of each country “to adapt themselves to a new strategic environment synchronized with the US rebalance.”
Additionally, each nation should also take care to improve its naval forces both in quantity and quality, he said.
Among China’s rivals in the West Philippine Sea are Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
China’s all-encompassing claim of the area along with its construction of several artificial islands has elicited condemnation not only from its regional rivals who fear they will be used to house permanent military bases but also from the global community.
In particular, the United States says it does not recognize China’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and has vowed to conduct regular patrols there in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s pledge to shift US strategic forces towards the Pacific.
On the other hand, China is also engaged in a dispute with fellow regional powerhouse Japan in the East China Sea over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.