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BEIJING — Beijing has a message for the Trump administration: The more ships you send to the contested waters of the South China Sea, the more we will bolster our presence there.


The warning, delivered in a People’s Daily commentary published Monday, came days after the USS Hopper sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef China seized from Philippine control in 2012. “A U.S. ship wantonly provoking trouble is reckless,” it said.


It is not the first time Beijing has tried to blame Washington for maritime tensions — it’s a bit of a recurring theme — but the ship’s operation and the blustery response may signal an ominous shift in U.S.-China ties.

这不是北京第一次试图将南海的紧张局势归咎于华盛顿了 - 这个主题反复出现 - 但是这军舰的动作和激烈的回应可能标志着美中关系的恶化。

In his first year in office, President Trump was focused on getting China to rein in North Korea and said little about the South China Sea. But many analysts predicted that his administration would take a tougher line in 2018 — and that may now be underway.

但许多分析师预测,特朗普政府将在2018年采取更强硬的路线 - 现在可能就在进行中。

The United States called last week’s operations “routine and regular,” but from a Chinese perspective, the timing and the location are significant. 


This was the first of what’s termed a freedom of navigation operation in months and the first such passage near Scarborough Shoal. It also took place on the eve of the release of the National Defense Strategy — a document replete with warnings about China.


In the wake of the operation, China showed no sign of changing or softening its stance. Over the weekend, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied” with the Hopper’s passage and that China would take necessary measures to “firmly safeguard its sovereignty.”


Monday’s editorial put it this way: “If the relevant party once more makes trouble out of nothing and causes tensions, then it will only cause China to reach this conclusion: to earnestly protect peace in the South China Sea, China must strengthen and speed up the building of its abilities there.”

周一的社论这样写道:“如果有关方面一再在本地区无事生非、制造紧张,最终只会让中方得出这样的结论:为切实维护南海和平,中方在南海的相关能力建设确实有必要加强、加快?!?br />
Ian Storey, an expert on the South China Sea and a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said the timing seemed calibrated to show China that the United States is ready to “do something a bit different.”

南海问题专家伊恩·斯托里和新加坡ISEAS-Yusof Ishak研究所的高级研究员说,已经到了向中国表明美国准备“做些与众不同的事情”的时候了。

“I was quite surprised when I read it had taken place at Scarborough Shoal,” he said. “I suppose this took China by surprise as well, and it was designed to throw them off balance a bit.”

“我想这也让中国惊讶,而且这样做的目的是为了让他们失去在该地区平衡?!?br />
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including Scarborough Shoal, a feature about 140 miles off the coast of Luzon, not far from the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay.

中国几乎夺走了整个南海,其中包括黄岩岛 ,黄岩岛距吕宋海岸约140英里,离苏比克湾前美国海军基地不远。

In 2016, an international tribunal ruled that China’s expansive claims had no legal basis, a finding welcomed by much of the region but largely ignored by Beijing. In the years since, China has pressed ahead with land reclamation and building in the area.


A White House effort to shake up U.S. strategy in the South China Sea will test both U.S.-China and U.S.-Philippines ties — especially because the Philippines, which used to control the shoal, appears to have lost interest in contesting it.


The Philippines, a longtime U.S. ally, used to challenge Chinese claims to the South China Sea. Since coming to power in 2016, however, President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a softer line with Beijing. 


Responding to reports of the freedom of navigation operation near Scarborough Shoal, Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, told local media outlets that it was “America’s problem.”


“We have reached a point where we have independent foreign relations, and a problem of America is no longer a problem of the Philippines,” he said. 

他说:“我们已经达到了拥有独立外交关系的地位,美国的问题已经不再是菲律宾的问题?!?br />
Jay L. Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said the Duterte government’s response could help China and hinder the United States by lending credence to Beijing’s claims.


The Duterte administration “washing its hands of this incident and not saying anything about China’s assertion of sovereignty is a problem because it could be interpreted as acquiescence to China’s statement,” he said.

他说:“杜特特政府不顾中国主权这个事实,不说任何关于中国主权的问题,因为它可以被解释为默许中国的声明?!?br />
“if I were China, I would use the Philippines’ silence as evidence against their claims.”

“如果我是中国的话,我会用菲律宾的沉默来作为反对他们主张的证据?!?br />