China using provocation, strong arm tactics in South China Sea: Analyst

Senior political scientist for the US-based RAND Corporation Andrew Scobell has said that China is using provocations, pressure and strong-arm tactics in the South China Sea all the while appearing reasonable and selling “carrots” in seeking a negotiated solution.
On July 1, China sent a coast guard ship into the disputed waters of the South China Sea just to provoke its neighbors and the West. Vessel-track data showed it stopped at Subi Reef, one of China’s numerous military bases in the Spratly Islands, on July 2.
Scobell, also a professor at Marine Corps University sees this as Beijing’s moves to strengthen its claims, using all instruments of national power.
“Many Chinese Coast Guard vessels are a lot bigger than many of the ships in most Southeast Asian navies. This is all about, from a Chinese perspective, promoting their interests in the South China Sea, strengthening their claims, using all instruments of national power, and at the same time avoiding escalation,” Scobell said.
“They’re using provocations, pressure, strong-arm tactics, but then at the same time the Chinese are also offering carrots and appearing reasonable in publicly seeking a negotiated solution,” he added.
China sent another vessel, the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4, into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone on June 30.
In retaliation, US Navy subsequently released a picture of one of its warships, the USS Gabrielle Giffords sailing just a few hundred yards from the Hai Yang 4.
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan are currently deployed in the South China Sea in a clear signal to China.
Pat Hannifin, the USS Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer, said: “Committed to our allies and a free and open Indo-Pacific, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier brings flexibility and combat lethality unmatched anywhere in the world. These operations with Nimitz demonstrate that we are but one component of a much larger and equally committed naval force.”
The South China Sea is grouped into three archipelagos including the Paracel Islands and Spratly island. China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and it has aggressively asserted its stake in recent years.
Paracel island is disputed between China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It has been occupied by China.
Meanwhile, Spratly island is claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and to a lesser degree, Brunei.