The U.S. Sent a Warship to the South China Sea to Send China a Message

This weekend the U.S. sent a warship into the South China Sea, and more U.S. tech companies cut ties with Huawei.

by David Gilbert
May 20 2019, 12:49pm

Tensions between China and the U.S. ratcheted up several notches over the weekend as Washington sent a warship into the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

On Sunday, a U.S. warship sailed into waters claimed by China in the hotly disputed South China Sea, with the U.S. Navy confirming that one of its vessels sailed close to the Scarborough Shoal, as part of what it describes as “freedom of navigation” exercises.

“The USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet, said Sunday.

Beijing responded Monday by saying it “strongly urges the U.S. to stop such provocative actions.”

Since 2010, China has conducted an increasingly aggressive land grab in the South China Sea, which is one of the world’s busiest trade routes and home to huge deposits of oil and natural gas. The campaign worries Western governments, who fear that China will gain complete control of the valuable maritime real estate.

Sunday’s exercise is the second of its kind in the South China Seas in the last month, but the chief of the U.S. Navy last week refuted claims they have anything to do with the trade war.

The exercises “are by design non-provocative, non-escalatory. They’re just challenging excessive maritime claims in a very consistent basis,” Adm. John Richardson told the International Maritime Security Conference in Singapore last week, claiming there has been no recent spike in activity in the region.

Google boots Huawei

The exercise in the South China Sea was carried out against the backdrop of tit-for-tat tariffs, as well as the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine China’s most prominent global technology company.

Google announced it would no longer give Huawei full access to its Android operating system, a move that will cripple Huawei’s smartphone business.

The ban will mean Huawei, the world’s second biggest vendor of smartphones, will no longer be able to offer its smartphone users access to Google’s core services like, Google Maps, YouTube, and the Google app store.

Google said it had no choice but to bar Huawei from its system after the Trump administration announced last week that it will blacklist the Chinese company.

U.S. chipmakers like Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm, which provide components to Huawei, have also decided to cut the company off, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg.

The effect will be to stifle Huawei’s ability to make both its smartphones and its networking equipment. The company said in an emailed statement that Huawei will continue to provide updates and security patches to owners of its smartphones, but it did not address questions about the impact of the Google ban on its business.

"Absolutely painful" trade war

The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China continues to upset global markets. While markets in Asia generally maintained the levels of show small gains Monday, markets in China fell in response to the latest developments at Huawei.

On Sunday, Trump told Fox News that he was “very happy” with how negotiations with China were going. He claimed the trade war had prompted firms to move production out of China and into other Asian countries, though he failed to provide any proof.

Trump insisted that, ultimately, China and its companies will pay the price of the trade war, saying they are “getting killed with the tariffs.” But hours earlier on the same network, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said tariffs are “absolutely painful” for farmers.

Toomey added that if a deal could be struck with China, “we might look back and say this is worth the price we are paying.” The Trump administration has so far paid over $8.5 billion to farmers to offset losses resulting from the trade war.

Cover: President Donald Trump speaks at the National Association of REALTORS Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)