This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.
East China Sea — Following comments made by Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, over the weekend, in which he reaffirmed the United States’ security commitments to Japan, Fox News reported Monday that China has just sent warships steaming through the disputed waters of the East China Sea.
From that report:
“Three Chinese warships sailed near the contested Senkaku Islands Monday, in a rare move apparently sending a message to the U.S. just two days after President Trump’s defense secretary visited Japan and vowed to protect the islands.
“The ships sailed within Japan’s territorial waters some 12 nautical miles off the islands in the South China Sea, roughly 140 miles northeast of Taiwan, a U.S. defense official told Fox News.”
On Saturday, while speaking in Tokyo, Mattis hailed the relationship between the U.S. and Japan as “an example for other nations to follow,” vowing that the Trump administration is dedicated to maintaining order in that region of the world.
“The U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to ensuring that this region remains safe and secure—not just now, but for years to come,” the defense secretary told reporters at a joint conference with his Japanese counterpart.
At that same conference, however, Mattis took a shot at China — more directly, the superpower’s “One China” policy — claiming the country is using coercion to enforce its will upon its neighbors.
“We have watched in the South China Sea as China has shredded the trust of nations in the region,” Mattis said, “apparently trying to have veto authority over the security and economic conditions of neighboring states.”
In response to those comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang stated: “We urge the U.S. side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks…and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.”
Now, hours later, China is sailing warships through the East China Sea.
As Anti-Media has covered, tension between the U.S. and China has been rising since Donald Trump entered the White House. At its core, the issue is one of conflicting ideologies — Trump’s nationalistic “America First” policy versus a “One China” doctrine that embraces economic globalization.
Many are concerned, however, that the dispute over trade could spill over into a violent confrontation, as neither of the two superpowers appears willing to back down from their positions. As such, and as military newspaper Stars and Stripes writes, Mattis’ re-commitment to Japan on the issue of security speaks directly to that potentiality:
“If the Pentagon named bilateral talks the way it did military operations, Jim Mattis’ first trip abroad as defense secretary might have been deemed Operation Allied Assurance.”