U.S. actions in Syria discredit its anti-Chinese claims in South China Sea
Andrew Korybko

Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted an unnamed source from the country's Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Sunday condemning the oil deal that was reportedly reached between the U.S. military forces, that are occupying Northeast Syria, and the Kurdish-led "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) militia. America's actions in Syria discredit its anti-Chinese claims in the South China Sea since the world can clearly see that it's the U.S., not China, that's gobbling up foreign territory as part of its insatiable desire for more resources.

The U.S. has long been accusing China of aggression in its southern namesake sea since other regional countries have overlapping claims there, yet it's actually America itself that's behaving aggressively in the Mideast. China relies on historical documents to confirm its claims in neighboring waters while the U.S. resorts to armed proxy groups to protect its illegal resource claims that it staked out halfway across the world during the course of a very bloody foreign conflict that it helped spark nearly a decade ago.

Another difference between China and the U.S. in this respect is that Beijing has previously discussed the issue with its neighboring claimants, something that Washington has yet to do with Damascus. Beijing didn't have to do this since these waters lie within its own maritime borders but it did so anyhow in order to retain cordial relations with its regional partners. The U.S., on the other hand, is obligated to discuss the issue with Syria since the resources claims in question indisputably lie within the Arab Republic's UN-recognized borders.

This brings to mind another key difference too, and it's that while some countries don't recognize China's control over most of the South China Sea, every single state in the world recognizes Syria's control over its own northeast, including the U.S. This means that Washington knows very well that what it's doing in that part of the Mideast country is illegal since it's the textbook definition of a foreign military occupation for imperialist purposes, specifically to take the country's oil like Trump himself so proudly tweeted about last year.

Nine years of continued fighting has left Syria in shambles. /Reuters

Nine years of continued fighting has left Syria in shambles. /Reuters

China's reaffirmation of its historical control over the South China Sea is carried out for the opposite reasons. It's meant to repair some of the damage done during the Century of Humiliation, as well as secure this vital seaway through which a large percentage of its international trade traverses, including resource imports. Unlike what the U.S. fearmongers about, China would never interfere with transit through the South China Sea since the country itself relies upon this, though America might do so in order to economically strangle its rival.

Both Syria and China are therefore on the defensive as victims of American aggression against their mainland and maritime territories, respectively. The U.S. is gobbling up Syria's northeast through its SDF proxy allies in order to steal the country's oil whereas it's much more directly involved in the South China Sea in order to remind China of the Damocles' sword-like scenario of its navy cutting off international trade through this waterway in the event of a hot war between them.

Restoring control over their temporarily lost territories like Syria aspires to do or reaffirming their present control over ones that are currently under threat like China's actively doing are defensive moves that are justified by international law, not aggressive ones like the acts that the U.S. committed when it caused these problems in the first place. Nevertheless, due to the U.S. control over mainstream media narratives, many people have been misled into thinking that these victimized states are "aggressors" while the U.S. is "innocent."

Considering how preoccupied the world is in dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and covering the increasingly intensifying chaos within the U.S., it's understandable why SANA's news report flew under the media's radar, though it's important to point out what they said since it discredits the U.S. claims in the South China Sea. A lot of folks seem to have forgotten about the U.S. military occupation of Northeastern Syria, but it's this ongoing act of aggression that undermines its reputation abroad more than anything else.

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