Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chinese warships patrolling contested waters in South China Sea PETALING JAYA: Press in China recently reported that the China’s Armed forces had sent warships to patrol the South China Sea with its personnel taking oaths to protect the sovereignty of their nation. The report by China Military Online, showed a picture of armed forces members from three warships from the South China Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) at a sovereignty oath taking ceremony on Sunday morning. The three warships named ‘Changbai Mountains’, ‘Haikou’ and ‘Wuhan’ was seen forming a triangle at the waters of the Zengmu Reef, while the officers lined up and held a sovereignty oath-taking and signing ceremony on the rear decks of the warships.

PETALING JAYA: Press in China recently reported that the China’s Armed forces had sent warships to patrol the South China Sea with its personnel taking oaths to protect the sovereignty of their nation. The report by China Military Online, showed a picture of armed forces members from three warships from the South China Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) at a sovereignty oath taking ceremony on Sunday morning. The three warships named ‘Changbai Mountains’, ‘Haikou’ and ‘Wuhan’ was seen forming a triangle at the waters of the Zengmu Reef, while the officers lined up and held a sovereignty oath-taking and signing ceremony on the rear decks of the warships.   Read more: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/01/31/Chinese-warships-patrolling-contested-waters-in-South-China-Sea/

China is playing dangerous game with the US in the South China Sea

By Benjamin Carlson, GlobalPost Posted: 01/30/14, 1:37 PM EST | HONG KONG — As anyone who has seen “Rebel Without a Cause” knows, playing chicken is dangerous for California teenagers in hot-rods. But playing chicken with warships, cruisers, and fighter jets — well, that’s just another level of crazy. Unfortunately, vessels from the U.S. military and from other countries increasingly find themselves in such high-stakes confrontations on the East Asian seas, where China has adopted a strategy of making rivals flinch or risk collision. Just this week, Chinese sailors parked three ships on a disputed reef 50 miles from the Malaysian coast and performed a ceremony in which they swore an oath “to safeguard [China’s] sovereignty and territorial interests.” Malaysia also claims the reef, and is building a naval base nearby to protect it against China’s claim. That’s just the latest in an escalating series of incidents. Read more: http://www.saratogian.com/general-news/20140130/china-is-playing-dangerous-game-with-the-us-in-the-south-china-sea

A response to navy chief’s denial of Chinese incursion – Arulsothy Ragunathan

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar, in comments published by the New Straits Times today, said the Chinese exercise, involving its newly-commissioned aircraft carrier and a submarine, took place 1,000 nautical miles away from Malaysia’s 200 nautical mile economic exlusion zone. “There has been no act of provocation on the part of the Chinese or threat to our sovereignty as they are conducting their exercise in international waters,” the pro-government newspaper quoted him as saying. Territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles (22.2km) from shore, after which the rest are international waters. Hence, the Chinese military may well have been at James Shoal, which is 80km off the coast, and still be in international waters, in a repeat of what took place last year.   Read more: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/a-response-to-navy-chiefs-denial-of-chinese-incursion-arulsothy-ragunathan

US-China Rivalry More Dangerous Than Cold War?

The prominent realist international relations scholar John Mearsheimer says there is a greater possibility of the U.S. and China going to war in the future than there was of a Soviet-NATO general war during the Cold War. Mearsheimer made the comments at a lunch hosted by the Center for the National Interest in Washington, DC on Monday. The lunch was held to discuss Mearsheimer’s recent article in The National Interest on U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East. However, much of the conversation during the Q&A session focused on U.S. policy towards Asia amid China’s rise, a topic that Mearsheimer addresses in greater length in the updated edition of his classic treatise, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, which is due out this April. In contrast to the Middle East, which he characterizes as posing little threat to the United States, Mearsheimer said that the U.S. will face a tremendous challenge in Asia should China continue to rise economically. The University of Chicago professor said that in such a scenario it is inevitable that the U.S. and China will engage in an intense strategic competition, much like the Soviet-American rivalry during the Cold War.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/us-china-rivalry-more-dangerous-than-cold-war/

If no one will, then P-Noy must stop Zambales mines

Below is the appeal of Dr. Benito Molino, of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, against destructive mining in his town. Addressed to Noynoy Aquino, it is in Filipino, the language the President uses in major speeches. Townsfolk of Sta. Cruz, Masinloc, Candelaria, and Palauig request its publication, in the hope that presidential action can save them. “Urgent: Kagalang-galang na Pangulong Noynoy, ang kapaligiran ng aming bayang Sta. Cruz ay lubhang napinsala na ng pagmimina. Ang mga lupa at laterite (reddish, clayey material) mula sa miniminang mga bundok ay tumabon na sa mga sakahan, mga ilog, mga palaisdaan. Umabot na ito sa karagatan. Nanganganib mawala ang mga hanap-buhay ng mga mamamayan. Kaya ang tanong naming mga mamamayan: asan na ang inyong binitiwang salita na hindi ninyo papayagan ang pagmimina kung ang kapalit nito ay pagkasira ng kapaligiran? Dahil ba ito ay pinayagan ng mga lokal na opisyales at dating pambansang pamunuan, hindi ninyo ito maipapatigil? Mahal na Pangulo, kung ayaw na ninyong madagdagan ang mga delubyo sa ating bansa, kagyat na po ninyong ipatigil ang pagmimina sa aming bayan.” At least five large mines – Chinese-owned – extract nickel and chromite from the mountains of Sta. Cruz. Ninety-four more, licensed as “small-scale” but actually using giant excavators and bulldozers, not just shovels and picks, operate in adjacent Masinloc. They are in the names of Filipinos, but most are fronts of the five Chinese firms.

US to maintain edge in Asia-Pacific

WASHINGTON – Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of the US Pacific Command, said America will continue to build and buy the most advanced defensive and offensive military weapons systems to maintain its edge in the Indo-Asia Pacific, which he described as the most militarized region in the world. He said there were now many weapons developers in the world including China, and America’s unrivaled  superiority after World War II was being challenged by the rapid technological advancement of warfare capabilities and the proliferation of these capabilities. “That’s not something to be afraid of; it’s just to be pragmatic about it,” he told a Pentagon press conference on Thursday. Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/01/25/1282798/us-maintain-edge-asia-pacific

An opportunity for diplomatic negotiations thrown away

There are always two sides to the question. This is especially true with the recent Chinese reiteration of rules about fishing in the South China Sea. The rules are not new. It has been there for decades but those who were more interested in escalating conflict between the two countries worked overtime to interpret it as an act of aggression and this is the side that has been getting the publicity. Filipinos have to be more informed rather than take every propaganda trick that aims to aggravate the conflict. The problem is access to mainstream media in the Philippines that does not see public interest as a duty. It demands information and searching questions to shape responsible opinion. Read more: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/01/25/1282708/opportunity-diplomatic-negotiations-thrown-away

Why China and the Philippines are Battling Over Rocks, Reefs

MANILA—The Philippines cried foul this week when China announced plans to begin regular patrols of the South China Sea, known here as the West Philippines Sea. The two countries have been engaged in a tense dispute over the region since 2012, when Chinese ships took control of Scarborough Shoal, which is just one of the areas Beijing and Manila contest. Click to enlarge image. Government spokesman Raul Hernandez insisted any such patrols would be illegal because the area in question is Filipino, not Chinese, territory: Under international law, he said in a statement sent by text message to reporters on Jan. 22, China’s Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, “cannot extend beyond 200 nautical miles” from the Chinese mainland and Hainan Island, a province at the southernmost end of China. Read more: http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2014/01/25/why-china-and-the-philippines-are-battling-over-rocks-reefs/

Lessons from the Battle of the Paracel Islands

On January 16, 1974, the Republic of Vietnam Navy (RVN) discovered the presence of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Crescent Group in the western Paracel Islands, which was held by South Vietnam. This was an unexpected development, because notwithstanding the reduced U.S. military assistance to Saigon after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, and subsequent reduction of South Vietnamese garrisons on the islands, the Chinese had not taken unilateral actions to subvert the status quo – by which the Amphitrite Group in the eastern Paracels and the Crescent Group were respectively under Chinese and South Vietnamese control. Over the next two days, the opposing naval forces jostled with one another in close-proximity maneuvers off the islands, before a firefight erupted as the South Vietnamese troops attempted to recapture Duncan Island. The skirmish subsequently escalated with overwhelming Chinese reinforcements deployed to the clash zone, including close air support staged from nearby Hainan Island and missile-armed Hainan-class patrol vessels. Shorn of American naval support, given that the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet was then scaling down its presence in the South China Sea following the peace accords of 1973, the RVN was utterly defeated. Beijing swiftly exploited the naval victory with an amphibious landing in force to complete its control of all the Paracel Islands. The Battle of the Paracel Islands has since gone down history as the first Sino-Vietnamese naval skirmish in the quest for control over the South China Sea isles. The Sino-Vietnamese naval skirmish in the nearby Spratly Islands in 1988 was the second and final such instance. Since then, tensions have eased. There have been continued exchanges at the ruling party level and between the countries’ militaries (including the hosting of a PLA Navy South Sea Fleet delegation to a Vietnamese naval base). Beijing and Hanoi have also recently inaugurated mutual consultations on joint marine resource development in the South China Sea. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/lessons-from-the-battle-of-the-paracel-islands/

Is US Pacific “Dominance” Up For Grabs?

Recent comments by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear III set the internet afire (well, at least for strategic studies followers) in suggesting that the United States was losing dominance in the Pacific Ocean. While no news to those of us who follow events closely in this part of the world, such remarks are a stark reminder of the challenges Washington and its allies face in Pacific and larger Indo-Pacific, especially in the years to come. The comments themselves, not the first from senior naval officers over the last several years concerning the rise of China’s military capabilities, were blunt and to the point. “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question,” explained Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, last Wednesday at a conference in Virginia. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/is-america-pacific-dominance-up-for-grabs/