Monthly Archives: August 2015

Other Views: China should be careful in the South China Sea

The Pentagon has laid down a fresh marker against China’s worrisome land reclamation effort in the South China Sea. In a congressionally mandated report published last week, the Defense Department outlined a strategy for maritime security in the Asia-Pacific that attempts to counter China’s provocative behavior. The real tests will come later, but they are clearly coming. In the spring, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, expressed alarm China was building artificial land by pumping sand onto live coral reefs and paving over it with concrete. Adm. Harris said China had created about 900 acres of artificial landmass, a “great wall of sand.” Now the Pentagon has provided stark new details. Since land reclamation got underway in December, 2013, China has expanded seven of its eight outposts in the Spratly Islands, and as of this June, had reclaimed “more than 2,900 acres of land.” Read more:

China ready to launch military power from artificial islands in South China Sea

China has won the first round of its contest for control in the South China Sea by completing construction of an archipelago of artificial islands, say senior Australian sources. And there is little that will stop China from winning the next round, too, as an indecisive US Administration and allies including Australia struggle to follow through on earlier promises to challenge unlawful Chinese claims with “freedom of navigation” exercises, the sources say. By 2017, military analysts expect China will have equipped its new sand islands with ports, barracks, battlements, artillery, air strips and long-range radar systems that will enable it to project military and paramilitary power into the furthest and most hotly-contested reaches of the South China Sea. Read more: 

China’s ‘history war’ against Japan may backfire

China is preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in what its government calls “the war of resistance against Japanese aggression.” On Sept. 3, Beijing will host its biggest military parade in decades as visiting world leaders look on. Even so, China’s bravado could backfire, casting light on uncomfortable historical truths that its leaders might prefer to forget.      Japan is ostensibly the inspiration for China’s militarist chest-thumping. Beijing’s propaganda claims that the Chinese people have no more bitter adversary today than the country that invaded, and ultimately surrendered, before most of them were born.      Yet the intercontinental ballistic missiles, stealth fighter jets and “aircraft carrier-killer” munitions that will grace the streets and skies of Beijing are designed to be used not against Japan, but against the U.S. — which fought on China’s side as its principal ally during World War II.      Indeed, China owes its territorial integrity today to America’s 1945 defeat of Imperial Japan, which had occupied parts of China since 1931. China’s global stature stems partly from U.S. wartime president Franklin Roosevelt’s hope that China would be one of the “Four Policemen” that would uphold the postwar order. This led the victorious allies to make China a founding member of the United Nations Security Council, an honor reserved for no other Asian country. Read more:

Vietnam Pushes Modernization as China Challenge Grows

TAIPEI — Vietnam’s efforts to modernize its armed forces face numerous political, historical and financial barriers. Many are of Vietnam’s own making — its go-slow policy on human rights issues and democratization, and the Communist Party’s reluctance to share power, even though it has embraced foreign investment and capitalism. Still, growing problems with China are forcing Hanoi to ask hard questions about its future military needs. Since the collapse of the US-backed South Vietnamese government in April 1975, Hanoi has relied on Russian/Soviet-built equipment and support for a wide array of anti-ship missiles, fighter aircraft, tanks and more recently, six Russian Kilo-class submarines. “Vietnam has a huge military, but most of it is still outfitted with weaponry from the 1970s and 1980s, especially the Army,” said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow and coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. Vietnam’s armed forces must now invest steadily in acquisitions for the next decade or two “if it wants to fully recapitalize its military,” he said. Read more:

Will China’s Economic Collapse Save the South China Sea?

Not too long ago, the Chinese economy appeared to defy both gravity and doomsayers. Despite years of unbalanced growth, Beijing has managed to rely on investment to power its economy and keep growth high. The country’s binge on credit since 2009, which has brought the debt-to-GDP ratio close to 300 percent, a perilous level for an upper-middle income country, has not triggered a financial crisis. Its real estate bubble, perhaps the largest the world has ever seen in terms of completed but unoccupied residential housing, is leaking air but has yet to crash totally. It was this appearance of economic invincibility that has emboldened the Chinese government to embark on an ambitious but highly-risky new foreign policy in the last few years. Many Chinese elites saw the United States and the rest of the West as in inexorable decline and China’s rise unstoppable. Hubris has led to the adoption of economic and security policies that would certainly make the late Deng Xiaoping turn in his grave. Instead of maintaining a low profile, Beijing has greatly extended its economic commitments abroad and begun openly challenging the U.S.-led security order in East Asia.   Read more:

WWIII Simmers Over South China Sea Dispute; China Pitted Against Australia, India, US, Japan

India and Australia will conduct their first ever bilateral war games in September with an eye on China. Chinese authorities said it is unperturbed but claimed that the naval drill is part of a long-planned alliance with the U.S. and Japan to contain China over South China Sea dispute. According to a report from Reuters, the India-Australia naval drill is primarily aimed atChina. According to the report, India is rattled when China deployed two of its nuclear-powered submarines near its shore in 2014. Hence, the India-Australia naval drill to be held in Bay of Bengal will be primarily focused in improving anti-submarine warfare and coordinated anti-submarine drills. This was officially announced in a statement from the Australian High Commission in Delhi obtained by Reuters. “India knows that it needs to build up its capacity in submarines and particularly anti-submarine warfare. It’s an area where both (India and Australia) can learn a lot from each other,” David Brewster, a security expert at the Australian National University, told Reuters. He added that China’s deployment of two submarines served as a “wake-up” call for India to realize that it needs to strengthen its bilateral relations with other navies.   Read more:

China may fear reputation damage more than military threats over South China Sea

China’s rapid construction of a string of artificial islands in the South China Sea has entered a more troubling phase. According to a major Pentagon report released last week, Beijing is shifting its focus from land reclamation to building deepwater ports, military-grade airstrips and other strategic infrastructure on top of its islands. While it’s unclear whether military forces will also be deployed, these sophisticated outposts will enable Beijing to bolster its power projection presence throughout the South China Sea. The United States is now struggling to devise a strategy to prevent China from militarising its newly completed islands. A new level of collective diplomatic pressure is required.   Read more:

FULL TEXT: Transcript of oral arguments on Philippines vs China arbitration case

MANILA, Philippines – The Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands released the full transcript of the oral hearings on the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea as requested by the Philippines. Last July, the Philippines sent a delegation composed of top executives from the three government branches as the United Nations arbitral tribunal opened the arbitration court proceedings on the sea dispute.   Read more:

China conducts air, sea drills in East China Sea

China conducted large-scale air and sea exercises in the East China Sea on Thursday, state news agency Xinhua said, the third time in the last two months it has carried out such live-fire maritime drills. The training involved more than 100 ships, dozens of aircraft, information warfare units as well the firing of close to 100 missiles, Xinhua said. It did not specify where exactly the exercises took place. China and Japan are involved in an increasingly bitter dispute over ownership of a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing. China has in the last two months held similar exercises in the Yellow Sea, and also the disputed waters of the South China Sea.   Read more: