Category Archives: Asia

A U.S.-China war is unthinkable. It also may be inevitable.

“That’s why China’s militarism in the South China Sea is actually a bigger problem than it should be. … Rather than just a modest problem, it’s a signal of a huge problem to come.”

We see China the way we do — as a threat to be managed — because we’re viewing China in too shallow a way. Even though our perspective is complex and well-informed, we probably spend too much time looking at China’s maneuvers and quantifying its socioeconomic situation. Dig deeper. It’s a real possibility that China is actually unmanageable.

That’s why China’s militarism in the South China Sea is actually a bigger problem than it should be. Alone, a few unwelcome installations should not trigger a shooting war, as Henry Kissinger has explained. Alone, Chinese regional economic leadership is not a huge threat to the U.S. But the two together are another story. China’s economic edge can work very well to soften up resistance to a subsequent wave of military expansionism. In this view, China’s expanding presence in the South China Sea is just a prelude of what will happen after its neighbors become reliant on good economic relations. Rather than just a modest problem, it’s a signal of a huge problem to come.

A U.S.-China war is unthinkable. It also may be inevitable.

South China Sea territorial clashes threaten environmental catastrophe – Washington Times

China’s mounting clashes with its neighbors over control of the South China Sea also could be fueling a major environmental catastrophe, endangering fishing stocks, threatening marine biodiversity and posing long-term threats to some of the globe’s most spectacular coral reefs.

Environmental scientists say the dangers are increasing as the conflicting sovereignty claims heat up between China and eight East Asian nations bordering one of the world’s most strategic maritime routes, which boasts an irreplaceable ecological harvest of atolls, submerged banks, islands, reefs, rock formations and over 3,000 species of fish.

South China Sea territorial clashes threaten environmental catastrophe – Washington Times

Conquering the South China Sea – WSJ

“These new fortresses in the South China Sea raise the risk of war, yet Washington seems to have no strategy to address them.”

China is building military bases on artificial islands hundreds of miles off its coast, in waters claimed by six other countries. These new fortresses in the South China Sea raise the risk of war, yet Washington seems to have no strategy to address them. Are the U.S. and its allies ceding the nearly 1.35 million square miles claimed by China without legal merit, including some of the busiest sea lanes on the planet?

Over the past year Chinese dredging and other landfill techniques have transformed tiny reefs into potential homes for military aircraft, ships, radar facilities and other assets. Formerly underwater during high tide, Johnson Reef is now a 25-acre landmass. Nearby Hughes Reef has grown big enough to host two piers and a cement plant. Gaven Reef is now 28 acres, with a helipad and antiaircraft tower. Fiery Cross Reef has grown 11-fold since August, with what appears to be a three-kilometer airstrip under construction. All are part of the Spratly islands, a cluster of rocks between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, often some 650 miles from China.

Conquering the South China Sea – WSJ

Michael Auslin: China and Japan, Spiraling Toward Confrontation – WSJ

It’s too simplistic to say that Beijing and Tokyo are on a collision course. Yet Japan shows no signs of buckling to Chinese pressure. Its military consistently responds to China’s expanding presence in northeast Asia’s skies and waters. That, in turn, raises the stakes for Beijing, which cannot afford to be seen backing down from its claims. Both sides have effectively made the Senkakus (called the Diaoyu Islands by China) a symbol of their determination to assert their national interest.

The two may be maneuvering themselves into a real confrontation, regardless of tepid diplomatic attempts to reduce tension. Neither wants to risk being seen as weak by the other or overshadowed in the eyes of regional states. So they are locked in a slowly spiraling competition reminiscent of the European powers in the late 19th century. As Chinese academic Shen Dingli has put it, “the more the U.S. and Japan do, the more China will do.”

That attitude reveals the stakes for America, too. Washington policy makers may like to think that their attempts to develop better working relations with Beijing should be taken at face value. But the Chinese see the Obama administration’s attempts to deepen its alliance with Japan as proof of an encirclement policy dedicated to blocking China’s rise, which prevents U.S. diplomats from playing the role of honest broker between China and Japan.

Michael Auslin: China and Japan, Spiraling Toward Confrontation – WSJ

This is a real problem because China can’t back down, and losing any kind of real conflict battle is not an option (for China). Therefore, there is the substantial risk of rapid escalation should a conflict involve real aggression – the loss of life. So the clock is ticking.

Let us also remember that China itself has become internally unstable. There is real risk that the current government might not last. What would come next is not clear, but the current leadership has to be worried.

I think if you look at China in total then the way forward is not going to be smooth. It risks revolution or overthrow, or it goes to war against Japan and shortly thereafter America. Obviously, these are not good options. Since America is sleeping soundly, you need to make sure you aren’t.

Asia is stockpiling for war. Blame China.

Across Asia, defense budgets are rising at an alarming rate. The figures are in large part a response to China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea. They’re a window into how China’s neighbors to view the world — and the view isn’t good.

What frightens China’s neighbors isn’t the size of its defense budget, but the Chinese government’s foreign policy.

China has territorial disputes with a dozen other countries. Some have been resolved peacefully. Others have not — at least not to the satisfaction of China’s neighbors. Beijing recently claimed a portion of the South China Sea defined by the so-called “Nine Dash Line.” China’s portion is 90 percent of the South China Sea, including territorial waters claimed by other countries.

In the last four years China has challenged Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, sending ships and planes near what it calls the Diaoyu Islands. China has also squared off with the Philippines over the Second Thomas Shoal, stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, confronted the U.S. Navy, and demanded that the Indian Navy leave “Chinese territory” in what others considered international waters. China is even filling in a series of shoals and reefs in the South China Sea in disputed territory, both to bolster its claims in the area and expand the People’s Liberation Army’s presence.

The presence of more weapons or better trained troops on either side does not necessarily make war more likely. China’s defense budget won’t start a war, but how it treats other countries just might.

Asia is stockpiling for war. Blame China.

Japan ups the stakes to draw Asean closer — Albert Wai | What You Think | Malay Mail Online

Over eight days, we took part in briefings and discussions on various strategic issues, including Japanese foreign policy, China-Japan relations and ASEAN-Japan relations. What struck me in these meetings is how keen Japan is to draw Asean closer to Tokyo in its tussle with China for influence in Asia. Notably, Japanese officials painted the contest almost as a zero-sum game.

Its game plan to engage Asean is a mix of economic diplomacy — which it is adept in — and signalling for the first time that it is prepared to patrol the South China Sea to counter Beijing’s assertiveness there.

Officials were clear that by getting involved in the South China Sea, Tokyo was not looking for conflict. Instead, it hopes to help Asean stand up to Beijing’s military might so that the South China Sea dispute can be settled through the rule of law and not power.

Japan believes this will create a healthy precedent for the East China Sea, where the two countries are locked in a bitter territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu Islands in Chinese terminology).

Japan ups the stakes to draw Asean closer — Albert Wai | What You Think | Malay Mail Online

The Ultimate Nightmare: Are the U.S. and China Destined for War? | The National Interest

There is no geo-strategic relationship of more importance than that of the U.S. and China. Yet, tensions between Washington and Beijing over the last few years have been building. Over the last few weeks I have been exploring on these pages some of the pathways the unthinkable could happen: a U.S.-China war. We have also been exploring the various paths to victory both sides could utilize. While all of this is important, it is also important to take a step back and look at the U.S.-China relationship from another viewpoint of equal and possibly even greater value—a dilemma in the relationship that is creating its own set of tensions: the budding high-tech security dilemma pitting Washington and Beijing against one another.

The Ultimate Nightmare: Are the U.S. and China Destined for War? | The National Interest

China Rebuffs U.S. Request to Halt S. China Sea Island Work | Washington Free Beacon

“According to officials familiar with the talks, Russel’s appeal was rejected during a meeting Feb. 10 with Zheng Zeguang, China’s assistant foreign minister, who said the construction was occurring within China’s area of sovereignty.”

China rejected an appeal from the Obama administration earlier this month to halt “destabilizing” construction on disputed islets in the South China Sea, according to U.S. officials.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel urged Chinese officials to halt rapidly expanding island construction over the past several years in the disputed Spratly Islands during a visit to Beijing.

According to officials familiar with the talks, Russel’s appeal was rejected during a meeting Feb. 10 with Zheng Zeguang, China’s assistant foreign minister, who said the construction was occurring within China’s area of sovereignty.

China Rebuffs U.S. Request to Halt S. China Sea Island Work | Washington Free Beacon

No surprise here. China declared most of the South China Sea as “core interest” several years ago. This is part of the “sphere of influence” model that China, Russia and Iran are pushing on the world. So far they haven’t experienced much push-back while trying to implement this new world order model. China’s declaration of core interest for most of the South China Sea puts it on par with Taiwan and Tibet. That suggests outside interference could lead to war – nuclear war.

March 2010 – Chinese officials tell the US the South China Sea is a “core interest”

BBC News – Why are South China Sea tensions rising?

Inside the Ring: Blunt warning on China – Washington Times
Navy Intel Officer Warns of Future China Conflict | Washington Free Beacon | 1913 Intel

This is Japan’s Best Strategy to Defeat China at Sea | The Diplomat

According to Toshi Yoshihara, it is an anti-access operational concept with Japanese characteristics. In short, Japan should give China a dose of its own medicine and emulate the PLAN’s alleged anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy (although there is little actual evidence that the Chinese Navy is placing a high priority on such a strategy. See: “The One Article to Read on Chinese Naval Strategy in 2015”). An A2/AD operational concept with Japanese characteristics would take into account Japan’s role as a gatekeeper to the open waters of the Pacific and would center around exploiting Japan’s maritime geographical advantage over China by skillfully deploying the JMSDF along the Ryukyu Islands chain, bottling up the PLAN in the East China Sea until the U.S. Navy and other allied navies can deploy in full-strength.

The short-term operational goal would be to create a military stalemate, until superior allied forces could be brought to bear. “While the Ryukyus fall well inside the PLA’s antiaccess zone, the archipelago’s strategic location offers Japan a chance to turn the tables on China. By deploying anti-access and area-denial units along the islands, Japanese defenders could slam shut an important outlet for Chinese surface, submarine and air forces into the Pacific high seas,” Toshi Yoshihara notes.

This is Japan’s Best Strategy to Defeat China at Sea | The Diplomat

China to project power from artificial islands in South China Sea | Reuters

China’s creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea is happening so fast that Beijing will be able to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard and fishing fleets before long, much to the alarm of rival claimants to the contested waters.

Reclamation work is well advanced on six reefs in the Spratly archipelago, according to recently published satellite photographs and Philippine officials. In addition, Manila said this month that Chinese dredgers had started reclaiming a seventh.

While the new islands won’t overturn U.S. military superiority in the region, Chinese workers are building ports and fuel storage depots as well as possibly two airstrips that experts said would allow Beijing to project power deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

China to project power from artificial islands in South China Sea | Reuters