Below are edited extracts about the developments in the South China Sea from the following two articles (click to view the original articles):

China state paper warns of war over South China Sea unless U.S. backs down, Reuters in Thanh Nien News

A Chinese state-owned newspaper said on Monday that “war is inevitable” between China and the United States over the South China Sea unless Washington stops demanding Beijing halt the building of artificial islands in the disputed waterway.

The Global Times, an influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, said in an editorial that China was determined to finish its construction work, calling it the country’s “most important bottom line”…

China last week said it was “strongly dissatisfied” after a U.S. spy plane flew over areas near the reefs, with both sides accusing each other of stoking instability.

China should “carefully prepare” for the possibility of a conflict with the United States, the newspaper said.
“If the United States’ bottomline is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea,” the newspaper said. “The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as ‘friction’.”

Such commentaries are not official policy statements, but are sometimes read as a reflection of government thinking. The Global Times is among China’s most nationalist newspapers…

The Global Times said “risks are still under control” if Washington takes into account China’s peaceful rise. “We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it,” the newspaper said.

High stakes for Australia in limiting China’s South China Sea incursions, The Age, 22 May 2015

Rising tensions in the South China Sea are not simply driven by disputes over reefs, hydrocarbon resources and fisheries. China is seeking to exercise greater control over the waters and airspace in ways that pose threats to all nations  that have interests in preserving freedom of navigation, international law and norms, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peace and stability in the South China Sea. Risk-averse strategies to deter destabilising Chinese actions are not having much effect. Australia should join the US to implement a cost imposition strategy aimed at changing China’s risk/benefit calculus and thus its behaviour.

China’s South China Sea gambit is fundamentally different from the challenge posed by its establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. The AIIB presents a potential threat to global economic governance but it does not endanger peace and stability or violate international law. Actions taken by China in the South China Sea are destabilising and in some cases are  in breach of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

…China has interfered with energy exploration activities conducted in waters near Vietnam and the Philippines… and unilaterally deployed a massive Chinese oil rig in Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

…Subi Reef, (is) one of the seven features where China is conducting land reclamation in the Spratlys. Since Subi Reef originally was a submerged land feature, it is not entitled to territorial air space or a maritime zone. China’s action was therefore both dangerous and illegal.

…The militarisation of the outposts is likely to prompt other regional governments to respond by strengthening their military capabilities on islands they occupy, which will inevitably heighten tensions further and may increase the risk of accident or conflict…

In a new development, the US is reportedly considering conducting freedom-of-navigation transits through waters and airspace of China’s artificial islands that were originally submerged reefs and are not entitled to any lawful air or maritime zone. These military moves would be aimed at signalling Beijing that its challenges to international law will not be tolerated…

Approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s trade sails through the waters of the South China Sea, but its interests are not confined to unhindered commerce. More importantly, Australia has a great deal at stake in the preservation of a rules-based order and in ensuring that as China emerges as a great power that it follows a common set of rules and laws. Collaborating with the US and other nations to promote peaceful management and resolution of the South China Sea disputes should be high on Australia’s agenda.

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