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Singapore paper carries article taking dig at Uncle Sam over South China Sea

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

06-04-2016 18:03 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

SINGAPORE, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The Straits Times, a daily newspaper in Singapore, recently carried a signed article that takes a dig at Uncle Sam over the South China Sea issue by exposing the nature of its so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

The article was signed by Leslie Fong, a senior executive vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings and former editor of the Straits Times, imaging an open letter from a Ms. Oh Beigong, a fisherman's daughter in China's Taiwan region, to Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

"I would like to make it clear that I have not the faintest idea who Ms. Oh is but I do think she has a sharp elbow," Fong wrote in the article, saying that the letter somehow found its way into his mailbox.

"From the little that I know, what she has written is accurate but just so readers can judge for themselves, I reproduce here the e-mail in its entirety," he wrote.

The letter by Ms. Oh, which was also copied to U.S. Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, begins by "congratulating" Harris over the recent freedom of navigation operations by USS William P. Lawrence.

In a clear violation of China's sovereignty, the United States sent the USS William P. Lawrence, an Arleigh Burke class missile destroyer, to within 12 nautical miles of China's Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands without Chinese permission on May 10 to assert what the world's only super power says its "right to freedom of navigation."

But the Ms. Oh says that some of her friends are of the view that the destroyer made just a single pass, which would qualify the sail-through as innocent passage under Article 18 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"In other words, they were telling me, the U.S. had made a big deal out of it as there was no real risk of the Chinese responding and going ballistic, literally or metaphorically. They also said you didn't need guts, or even brains, to dispatch the destroyer as you were just carrying out the orders of your political masters," the letter says.

It goes on to say that such a move by the United States, just like similar moves it made last year and earlier this year, risks collision just like the mid-air collision in 2001 in which a Chinese pilot lost his life.

"But displaying testicular fortitude is one thing and pushing your luck too far is another," the letter says.

"Let me get serious. The U.S. is playing with fire by repeatedly poking China in the eye. We in this region are going to be the collateral damage if this spins out of control. And why should we pay the price when the U.S. does not really have right on its side? As a thinking man, did you not feel discomfort deep inside you when the U.S. kept singling out the Chinese as the bad guys in the maritime disputes?" it says.

It also points out that Harris "must know better than most on this planet that the U.S. has not been able to cite one instance when China actually denied anyone the freedom of navigation or point to any statement by Beijing threatening that right."

"Of course Washington will sidestep that -- why let facts spoil a good excuse -- and say instead that it cannot allow China's claim to waters bound by that famous or infamous nine-dash line that it has drawn in the South China Sea to go unchallenged," it says.

The Ms. Oh says that the then government of China in 1948 went to the United Nations to lodge a claim using a map of the South China Sea with the dotted line and that it was not challenged till recently.

It also takes note of the U.S. finger pointing at China by alleging that the country is going to militarize the airstrips and other facilities to project force, thus threatening the region.

"Er, coming from a senior naval officer of a country that operates some 800 bases or military facilities in more than 60 countries around the world, several of them virtually at China's doorstep, that, sir, is a bit rich!" the letter says.

It points out that the United States, with 11 carrier battle groups circling the globe, "each with enough firepower to send four-fifths of the world's countries back to the Stone Age," has openly declared intention of not allowing any other nation to challenge U.S. power and supremacy.

The U.S. has ignored the "inconvenient truth" that other claimant states have engaged in activities in violation of multilateral agreements.

"I know, I know, the U.S. is not in the habit of admitting that it is or can be wrong. Thus not a word of apology for invading Iraq under the pretext of rooting out the non-existent weapons of mass destruction ..." it says.

The Ms. Oh sees U.S. moves as efforts to stymie the rise of China.

"We get that. So do us a favor, please stop talking about high principles and international law," it says.

She advises the United States to send vessels to assert the freedom of navigation within 12 nautical miles of an atoll in the Philippine Sea which the Japanese call Okinotori Island and claim as their territory.

Japan used the atoll -- not an island -- to claim the usual 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone that is larger than the entire Japan, but its claim is not recognized by others in the region.

"So, please, dear admiral, send the William P. Lawrence there and have some of its crew go fishing near the atoll. All who look askance at your dubious freedom of navigation expeditions in the South China Sea thus far will applaud you," says the letter.

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