Category Archives: Asia

US ‘Steadily Retreating’ In South China Sea Dispute « Breaking Defense

As it turns out, the USS Lassen reportedly did not engage in a FONOPS to demonstrate that the islands China has built exert no right to territorial waters reaching out 12 nautical miles. Instead, the U.S. ship reportedly conducted “innocent passage,” turning off its radars and grounding its helicopters as it transited within 12 nautical miles of the islands. Undertaking “innocent passage” is done only in another nation’s territorial waters.

In short, the United States, by its actions, may have actually recognized China’s claims. If the reports are correct, the United States treated the artificial island atop Subi Reef as though it were a naturally occurring feature, and therefore entitled to a 12 nautical mile band of territorial water. This is precisely the opposite of what had been announced.

Further obscuring the message, Administration sources are now claiming that it was both a FONOP and “innocent passage,” because the American ship was transiting waters near other islands occupied by various other claimants as well as going near Subi Reef. It would appear that the Administration was more intent on placating domestic concerns (e.g., the Senate Armed Services Committee) than in sending a clear signal.

US ‘Steadily Retreating’ In South China Sea Dispute « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Why South Korea Will Stay Out of the South China Sea | Stratfor

Several countries have been courting an increasingly active Japan to support them in asserting their maritime rights in the South China Sea against China’s expanding presence. But South Korea may be slow to follow Japan’s example. Though the waters off the southeast Chinese coast are a vital trade route for South Korea, as they are for other surrounding countries, committing military force there would risk hurting the country’s close trade relationship with China. That is a risk South Korea may not be ready to take, especially since it would mean throwing its lot in with its historical colonizer, Japan.

So far, Japan has led efforts to counter Chinese influence in the South China Sea. Its own military engagement in the region has taken the form of joint naval and coast guard exercises and the delivery of patrol ships to regional coast guards — such as that of Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia — to assist them in competing with the Chinese coast guard. Eventually Japan may even start periodically sending its own ships or planes to patrol the area as part of its drive to take a more active role in regional security.

Why South Korea Will Stay Out of the South China Sea | Stratfor

The short answer is, with friends like South Korea who needs enemies. Of course, the US can’t count on South Korea for anything.

South Korea appears to be paying for only 40% of the cost of stationing US troops on its soil. IMO that says brings our troops home.

Still technically at war with North Korea, Seoul has shouldered part of Washington’s cost for stationing its troops since 1991, currently paying for about 40 percent of the cost.

South Korea to contribute $867 million for U.S. military forces in 2014 | Reuters

How China Views the South China Sea: As Sovereign Territory | The National Interest

This is the crux of the matter. For Chinese decision makers, the South China Sea—both the waters and the islands within it—are and have always been Chinese territory. The neighbors’ actions are not merely alternative claims; they are an effort to amputate a piece of China. In this context, China is not Germany: China is France or Poland.

The same reasoning means that China is not intent upon establishing a sphere of influence over the South China Sea, in a modern version of the Monroe Doctrine. The United States dominated the Gulf of Mexico and Central America, but made no claim that Haiti or Guatemala was part of the United States itself. China, on the other hand, has made clear in its behavior, if not in its enunciated policies, that it views the waters and islands of the South China Sea as part of its sovereign territory. Hence, Chinese construction of artificial islands is perfectly within its rights, since it occurs within Chinese territory; China has no more need to consult with others over such construction than they would if they were building a new expressway in Beijing.

In short, China is intent upon defining its sovereignty in extraordinarily expansive terms, not only in the area of the South China Sea, but across a variety of domains, both physical and virtual. These definitions contradict much of the current Western, and even global, understandings underpinning international commerce, whether it is freedom of the seas or the free flow of information. In essence, China is challenging the international order, not by seeking “a place in the sun” or lebensraum, but by redefining and extending the reach of the state.

How China Views the South China Sea: As Sovereign Territory | The National Interest

Needed: ‘Honest Broker’ To Stop U.S., China From Clashing In Disputed South China Sea – Forbes

The U.S. challenge to China in the South China Sea means “an honest broker” is needed to sort out the problems and stop the confrontation from spiraling out of control. That’s the view of a former South Korean foreign minister, Song Min-Soon, as he considers “dangerous developments” in the wake of the foray by the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within the 12-mile limit set by China around the Spratly Islands.

What’s happening there is “very dangerous for all Asia,” Song told a conflab of policy-makers and think-tankers gathered in Seoul to consider “new horizons for multilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia.”

Song, who has served as his country’s national security adviser and is a member of the National Assembly, clearly sees the standoff in the South China Sea as rippling around the periphery of Asia to the Korean peninsula and Japan.

Needed: ‘Honest Broker’ To Stop U.S., China From Clashing In Disputed South China Sea – Forbes

An ADIZ with Chinese Characteristics | The Diplomat

According to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, when entering the zone, such as the one declared over the ECS, all aircraft are required to identify themselves, report flight plans, and inform ground control of their exact position. Such regulations apply to commercial aircraft as well as military aircraft. On the latter count, China’s ADIZ fails to uphold the normative principle that military aircraft simply transiting through an ADIZ shouldn’t be obliged to report to the host country. China has threatened to meet non-compliance with “military defensive measures.” The U.S. State Department was highly critical of the coercive measure, claiming that “the U.S. does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter the U.S. national airspace.” The State Department urged China “not to implement its threat to take actions against aircraft that do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing.”

China’s reinterpretation of how an ADIZ is declared and operates raises questions about the legality, legitimacy and intentions of its controversial efforts over the ECS. ADIZs are legally ambiguous, and aren’t regulated by any defined international regime. Although there’s no explicit prohibition on ADIZs, they can be used in ways that violate other international legal provisions. China’s specific identification requirements placed on military aircraft are in violation of Article 87 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which protects “freedom of overflight” and to which China is a signatory. The 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation – the Chicago Convention – also rules against unilateral attempts to restrict air navigation beyond a state’s territorial seas. Therein lies the danger: China’s attempt to maintain de-facto control of its surrounding waters will contribute to establishing a precedent outside of current international law.

An ADIZ with Chinese Characteristics | The Diplomat

China military buildup: Think tank warns of threat to US forces in Asia- Nikkei Asian Review

An influential U.S. think tank recently issued a report that warns of the danger of U.S. forces in Japan being crippled by China, which is beefing up its military capabilities.

“The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996-2017,” was released by Rand Corp., which has close ties with the U.S. Department of Defense. The report projects how U.S. military activities in Asia will be affected by China’s military buildup based on publicly available information.

The report assumes two scenarios — a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and a Spratly Islands campaign — and carefully analyzes what will happen if U.S. forces intervene. It also divides the forces into 10 categories, such as air superiority, attacks on air bases and anti-surface warfare, and compares them in four years — 1996, 2003, 2010 and 2017.

The report notes that the military power gap is still significant between the U.S. and China, but that the Chinese military is quickly strengthening its ability to prevent the U.S. from intervening.

What is particularly serious for Japan is the fact that China’s increasing offensive power is posing a growing threat to U.S. military bases in Japan and U.S. naval fleets centered on aircraft carriers.

China military buildup: Think tank warns of threat to US forces in Asia- Nikkei Asian Review

South Korea: At the Epicenter of a Geostrategic Danger Zone | The National Interest Blog

South Korea finds itself at the epicenter of a geostrategic danger zone that is all the more fragile today as a result of frictions resulting from China’s rise. More than ever, a volatile and self-isolated North Korean leadership is perceived as the trigger that could set off the regional powderkeg. Hence, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s discussion with U.S. President Barack Obama regarding the North Korean issue will be an important and timely one. She will need strong support from the United States in her efforts to maintain South Korea’s delicate position between China and Japan and to stabilize the Korean peninsula.

The immediate challenge facing both presidents is about finding a way to disrupt North Korea’s pattern of missile and nuclear tests that have occurred every three years since 2006. Existing UN Security Council sanctions have slowed but not stopped North Korea’s pursuit of a capability to deliver a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. Both leaders have called upon Chinese President Xi Jinping to pressure North Korea to stop violating UN resolutions halting these tests.

South Korea: At the Epicenter of a Geostrategic Danger Zone | The National Interest Blog

Words like “fragile”, “trigger” and “delicate” are not exactly reassuring. They suggest something along the lines of “tipping point.” North Korea is at some kind of tipping point where it won’t take a lot to start a war between the two Koreas. And that kind of war will involve both China and the US.

We already have tension between China and Japan which could easily drag in the US. We also have direct tension between China and the US over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Now we have to worry about a North-South Korean war.

Chinese media: military must be ready to counter US in South China Sea | World news | The Guardian

An editorial in the Global Times, which is close to China’s ruling Communist party, condemned US “coercion”, adding: “China mustn’t tolerate rampant US violations of China’s adjacent waters and the skies over those expanding islands.”

It said China’s military should “be ready to launch countermeasures according to Washington’s level of provocation”.

Tensions have mounted since China transformed reefs in the area – also claimed by several neighbouring countries – into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation.

Following a meeting of American and Australian officials on Tuesday, the US defense secretary, Ash Carter, warned Beijing that Washington would continue to send its military where international law allows, including the South China Sea.

The remarks were backed by the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who said the two countries were “on the same page”.

Chinese media: military must be ready to counter US in South China Sea | World news | The Guardian

You can see tension is building year after year. This article is just another example of how tension is getting very bad. Will there be war? But first, let’s examine what happens if war doesn’t occur.

The problem is that the Chinese economy is slowing. Plus it is starting to look like a big part of the world may be about to enter another recession. This will put even more downward pressure on the Chinese economy. All of this means that the Chinese leadership is getting worried about its future. Can the Chinese leadership survive the slowing economy? Also, the old-guard is seeking to fight back against the current leadership because of the on-going anti-corruption campaign. The current leadership is making a lot of enemies. The risk of some kind of regime change is increasing.

No war is not exactly a piece-of-cake for the current leadership. But what about war? Current growing tension between the US and China suggest they are on a path to war. Also, growing tension between Japan and China, suggest that it could explode into a military conflict which would likely bring in the US military.

If there is a regime change in China, then perhaps war can be avoided. Short of that war is a very clear possibility.

Why Beijing Isn’t Backing Down on South China Sea

Such exchanges appear to be moving China and the U.S. toward a much feared, yet long expected, military confrontation. Just as unsettling, both sides seem confident they can prevail. The conversations we had in Beijing and Shanghai late last month suggested that China is confident, perhaps overly so, that it can triumph in a standoff with the world’s leading, nuclear-armed superpower, at least as long as it’s confined to its own neighborhood.

“There are 209 land features still unoccupied in the South China Sea and we could seize them all,” a senior Chinese military official said bluntly, on a not-for-attribution basis so that she could “speak frankly.” “And we could build on them in 18 months.”

To her and other Chinese officials, Washington’s deployment of F-22 stealth fighters and the nuclear supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan to Japan over the summer revealed aggressive American designs on the region—but nothing China couldn’t handle.

Why Beijing Isn’t Backing Down on South China Sea

It appears that the US is about to challenge China by running “freedom of navigation operations.” China says that it won’t tolerate that.

Then this week, anonymous “defense officials” doubled down on U.S. intentions, saying the Obama administration was considering “freedom of navigation operations,” which, according to Reuters, would “have American ships and aircraft venture within 12 nautical miles of at least some artificial islands built by Beijing.”

We have known that a major confrontation was coming for years between the US and China. And that time is close at hand. However, it might not play out like some think. There may very well be a confrontation, but I don’t necessarily see it as spiraling out of control. I see it more like a triggering mechanism with a delayed explosion. The explosion part will come at the time China chooses and probably in conjunction with Russia. Personally, I see the Chinese as too smart to get sucked into an escalation that leads to nuclear war. They’ll wait and catch the US off-guard.

We’ll have to watch how things play out with China. Also, we need to watch how things play out with Russia concerning Syria. If things blow up in either neighborhood, then the US could be in trouble.

New US Pacific Fleet Commander Acknowledges ‘Great Angst’ Among Allies

The new commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet is seeking to reassure regional allies that the pivot of American military forces will be sustained amid concerns regarding China’s maritime expansion.

Since taking his post three months ago at the helm of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott H. Swift has gone to the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia to meet with counterparts in their navies.

In every one of those destinations there is “great angst” – due to the worrying “scale and scope” of Beijing’s reclamation projects in the South China Sea, Swift told reporters on Tuesday.

New US Pacific Fleet Commander Acknowledges ‘Great Angst’ Among Allies