China ‘should fire shots at US warships near disputed islands, or even ram them to teach them a lesson’

Getting tough with trespassers in the South China Sea would be good for peace in the disputed region, says Communist Party mouthpiece

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 February, 2016, 2:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 February, 2016, 1:19am

Chinese forces should fire warning shots or even deliberately collide with American warships that sail close to the Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea, according to a commentary published online by state media.

Beijing must take tough action to “teach the US a lesson” if the latter continues in its bold acts, said the article posted on the social media account of People’s Daily’s overseas edition.

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Tensions over the oil-rich region reached a new high after USS Curtis Wilbur entered waters within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracels last month. Pentagon said it was exercising the right to freedom of navigation in open seas.

News reports this week said Beijing had installed an advanced air defence missile system on Woody Island in the Paracels. US and its allies expressed concern over the region’s militarisation.

Last October, the USS Lassen sailed past China’s man-made islands in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

The commentary said the Paracels, which have been under Chinese control for over 40 years, was Beijing’s bottom line in defending the South China Sea.

China must make its stance clear in the Paracels by taking firmer action against incursions, it said. This included escorting out vessels and – in worst-case scenarios – deliberately colliding with ships to teach them a lesson.

“Proper toughness and deterrence will be good for peace,” the article said.

Its author, Hu Bo, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that Beijing should vary its approaches in handling tension in the Spratlys and Paracels.

Beijing should be more cautious in the Spratlys but more confident in the Paracels, as its claim of the latter – contested only by Vietnam and Taiwan – was less disputable, he said. In comparison, there are seven claimants to the Spratlys area.

The US challenge in the Paracels was therefore a stronger provocation – a sign that they had started “to oppose China for the sake of opposing” – said Hu, a researcher at the Institute of Ocean Research. “Once the Paracels become an international problem like the Spratlys, it would be a major failure of China’s South China Sea policy,” he said.

READ MORE: China may send anti-ship missiles to disputed South China Sea to beef up defence: analysts

Hu predicted that Washington would focus its future actions on the Paracels.

Tensions in the South China Sea have risen after Beijing began massive reclamation work to expand small islands in disputed areas of the region.

Taiwan and the US said this week that Beijing had set up surface-to-air missiles on an island in the Paracel island chain.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China had every right to deploy armaments to defend its sovereign territory.