Category Archives: Asia

Is China Building a Base Near the Senkakus? | The Diplomat

“Jane’s satellite imagery now offers clear, public, visual confirmation that such construction is indeed ongoing.”

But that report cited unconfirmed Chinese sources. Japanese officials declined to comment on the specifics of the initial report, while Chinese statements and media reports reacted with the expected nationalistic bluster, charging that Tokyo was being unnecessarily alarmist. While this quiet militarization is consistent with Chinese behavior in other instances in both the East and South China Sea, Jane’s satellite imagery now offers clear, public, visual confirmation that such construction is indeed ongoing.

Japan, meanwhile, is not standing still either. In April, Tokyo announced measures to strengthen its defense and surveillance capabilities with a troop presence and military radar station in Yonaguni, 150 km (93 miles) from the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. It is also developing amphibious forces that will be based in Nagasaki, among other moves under consideration as signaled in its record defense budget disclosed earlier this month.

As both China and Japan engage in such activities, Jane’s concludes that Beijing’s base is a move that risks further escalating the “quiet military buildup” around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands by the two countries. Despite the famous handshake between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last November, as well as continued talks on developing mechanisms to manage maritime tensions, the silent saber-rattling by both sides has continued to simmer beneath the surface.

Is China Building a Base Near the Senkakus? | The Diplomat

Might China’s struggles with its neighbours bring war to Asia? | The National

But these trade ties might not stop a future war. In many respects, the situation in East Asia today resembles Europe before the First World War. Just as in East Asia today, at that time in Europe rising powers challenged established ones, militarism spread, and countries maintained intricate webs of economic ties. Yet even while they traded with each other, European powers in the 1900s and 1910s launched an arms race, and trade links ultimately did not guarantee peace. The Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has admitted that the comparison is apt, telling reporters last year that despite growing Japan-China trade, the two countries are in a “similar situation” as Britain and Germany were shortly before the First World War, when the European powers engaged in a naval arms race while also becoming major trading partners.

As happened then in Europe, today’s East Asian standoff could end bloodily. China and South East Asian countries are becoming more openly hostile to each other. Beijing has warned ExxonMobil and other big oil and gas companies not to launch joint ventures with South East Asian nations to explore the South China Sea. Chinese officials also have become explicit in warning South East Asian countries not to challenge Beijing’s claims to water and land. “China is a big country and other countries [in South East Asia] are small countries, and that’s just a fact,” the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi declared at a summit of China and South East Asian countries in 2010.

Might China’s struggles with its neighbours bring war to Asia? | The National

2015 Predictions for East Asia | The Diplomat

3. China: Stasis Then Crisis?

China is perhaps the greatest disappointment. As elected leaders, Park and Abe must to some extent mirror the preferences of their coalitions. But Xi has degrees of freedom to push change. He scarcely has. His environmental deal with Obama does not represent real change, as it targets emissions levels China would likely hit anyway, and his signature initiative – the anti-corruption campaign – looks more and more like power-consolidation than a genuine graft crackdown. Xi is not weaning Chinese industry off its bad habits like industrial espionage, state patronage, shadow banking, infrastructural white elephants, and so on. He seems as unwilling as Abe to pursue structural reforms when the old ways – exports and infrastructure – seem so easy.

Predictions: The CCP fears economic change and Xi is more interested in foreign policy, which suggests stasis at home. But the Chinese economy is so distorted now that a banking, infrastructural, health, or environmental crisis that deeply embarrasses the government is probably coming.

2015 Predictions for East Asia | The Diplomat

China Prepares for War | American Thinker

The nations around the South China Sea are preparing for war and so are the U.S. Marines. The Marines are building a command post at Oyster Bay on the west side of the Island of Palawan, which is the closest part of the Philippines to the Chinese bases in the South China Sea. The Marines would see their role as scraping the Chinese off their artificial islands once hostilities break out. It is good to see that somebody besides China is planning ahead.

Back to the Senkakus. The Japanese have not put any troops on these islands because they didn’t want to escalate the situation. That is completely misreading it. The Chinese preparations on the Nanji Islands etc. mean that the war is coming. All Japan can do is put itself in a better position. What it needs to do soon is send a team of archeologists to the Senkakus to curate the Japanese habitation of these islands, with logistical support provided by a company of naval marines. The important thing is that they will run up the Japanese flag every day. If they Chinese have to step over dead Japanese bodies when they attack, that will put Japan in a far better moral position.

Articles: China Prepares for War

Lowy report: Chinese rivalries risk spiralling conflict [out of control] in South China Sea

“Consequently, there is a genuine risk of an incident at sea (or in the air) spiralling out of control.”

Fierce rivalry between Chinese civilian, paramilitary and military agencies has created a “genuine risk” of conflict in the South China Sea, says a new report.

Reopening one of the great debates of Chinese foreign policy, analyst Linda Jakobson argues that President Xi Jinping is not a dominating leader and there is no “grand plan” of tailored territorial coercion.

Rather, she says, local governments, state oil companies, fishermen and as many as five maritime surveillance agencies are furiously competing to expand bureaucratic turf under the “pretext” of general nationalist policy directions from above.

And her model of bureaucratic competition could be even more dangerous than any grand territorial plan.

Lowy report: Chinese rivalries risk spiralling conflict in South China Sea

“Consequently, there is a genuine risk of an incident at sea (or in the air) spiralling out of control.”

What does that mean?

A conflict starts between China and one other party. Other parties join the conflict. Finally, the US gets dragged into it. Then there is a rapid escalation into a full blown nuclear war.

Do you think the Chinese don’t know this? They know their actions could very well lead to nuclear war with the US. They just don’t care.

Another Look At The Military Base China Is Building On A Disputed Reef – Business Insider

With construction still underway, Andrew E. Erickson, Associate Professor at the US Naval War College, and Austin Strange of Harvard University wrote in July that the facility could eventually be twice as big as the US base at Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean. But according to their analysis the bigger concern to China’s neighbors is that “it could become a command-and-control center for the Chinese navy and might anchor a Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) similar to the one it announced over the East China Sea in 2013.”

An ADIZ is an area in which a country declares the need to control air traffic for security reasons although it lies outside of its usual airspace.

The declaration of an ADIZ in the East China Sea put the world on tenterhooks in November 2013 as China and Japan entered into a contest of brinkmanship, sending naval vessels and aircraft into the disputed zone and locking weapons systems onto one another.

Another Look At The Military Base China Is Building On A Disputed Reef – Business Insider

Hard diplomacy ahead despite China showing its softer side | Reuters

In recognition of the world’s concerns, Xi, speaking to Australia’s parliament on Monday, channeled an ancient expression to assuage worries: “A war-mongering state will eventually die no matter how big it is”.

He did not finish the saying, whose last line reads: “Though the world is peaceful, you will be in danger if you forget about preparing for war”.

Hard diplomacy ahead despite China showing its softer side | Reuters

Here is a little story about China’s thirst for revenge because of the humiliation inflicted upon it by the West in the 19th century.

The king who slept on brushwood and tasted gall is as familiar to Chinese as King Alfred and his cakes are to Britons, or George Washington and the cherry tree are to Americans. In the early 20th century he became a symbol of resistance against the treaty ports, foreign concessions and the years of colonial humiliation.

Taken like that, the parable of Goujian sums up what some people find alarming about China’s rise as a superpower today. Ever since Deng Xiaoping set about reforming the economy in 1978, China has talked peace. Still militarily and economically too weak to challenge America, it has concentrated on getting richer. Even as China has grown in power and rebuilt its armed forces, the West and Japan have run up debts and sold it their technology. China has been patient, but the day when it can once again start to impose its will is drawing near.

Brushwood and gall

Japan’s Military Is Revving Up To Meet China’s Growing Regional Ambitions [and War]

‘If ever there was a formula for world wars, it’s minor disputes between countries backed by big allies.’ If China and Japan go to war, then so do China and the US.

“All those hotspots, and what’s the common denominator? It’s China,” Gordon Arthur, a journalist focusing on Asian Pacific defense, told Business Insider. “I think they’ve been very assertive under president Xi Jinping, so I think it’s very possible that an accident or escalation could happen.”

That case is the main driver for Japan’s renewed defense priorities, and for its move to base its new amphibious capability — including a radar station — in southwestern Japan.

If ever there was a formula for world wars, it’s minor disputes between countries backed by big allies (“it’s likely that there will be a third world war to fight for sea rights,” reads one op-ed by a professor at a a Chinese military university). Even Shinzo Abe, a man in leadership rather than academia, this year compared the trade-heavy relationship between China and Japan to that of the UK and Germany before World War I.

Japan’s Military Is Revving Up To Meet China’s Growing Regional Ambitions – Business Insider

China, U.S. moving closer to viewing war as inevitable | The Japan Times

Thucydides described this “natural” process regarding Athens and Sparta as a combination of “rise” and fear — which inevitably leads to war. Today this is known as the “Thucydides trap.” The international relations question of our age is: Can China and the U.S. avoid it?

This may sound like Chicken Little warning that “the sky is falling.” But the situation really is quite bad and growing worse by the day. It is now clear that China expects to play a role at “the center of the world’s political system.” It wants to be a new rule maker and an old rule breaker if it is in its national interest to do so. It wants to be an “exceptional” country like the U.S.

China, U.S. moving closer to viewing war as inevitable | The Japan Times

China think tank accuses Japan of preparing for war | GlobalPost

Recent increases in the frequency of Japanese military exercises suggest that the country is preparing for war, a think tank with close ties to China’s military said in a report released Wednesday.

“Island landing” and other readiness drills conducted by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces “are not only provocative and confrontational, but also meant for war preparedness,” the China Strategic Culture Promotion Association said in its third annual report on Tokyo’s military capabilities.

China think tank accuses Japan of preparing for war | GlobalPost

Navy Intel Officer Was Right About China’s Prep for “Short, Sharp War” with Japan | RealClearDefense

China prefers “short, sharp wars.”

Whether one looks at China’s war with India (1962), the Soviet Union (1969) or with Vietnam (1979), it is clear that its strategic aims revolve around the desire to achieve rapid, limited results leaving them in an advantageous position, in addition to teaching the other side “lessons” about China’s will and power. Captain Fanell’s assessment of recent operations by the PLAN confirm that—lo and behold!—China is training to conduct war in a manner that China prefers. One wonders what third parties thought of the talk of “shock and awe” that preceded our campaign in Iraq in 2003. That the identified opponent of China’s future aggression was Japan should not be surprising, given the rising acrimony over disputed territory that is driven in no small measure by the very transparent intent Fanell identifies with Chinese leadership.

Navy Intel Officer Was Right About China’s Prep for “Short, Sharp War” with Japan | RealClearDefense

Great-Power Rivalry Still Threatens the Pacific

Unfortunately, pax Americana is giving way to a balance of power that is seething with rivalry and insecurity. Everywhere China sees American plots designed to prevent its rise. American alliances contain it, foreign-funded NGOs undermine the Communist Party, and spies foment protests in Hong Kong and among the Uighurs in Xinjiang. In August a Chinese fighter-jet and an American surveillance plane passed within 20 feet, just avoiding a mid-air collision. Perhaps because Mr Xi and Mr Obama understand that this could have plunged the two superpowers into crisis they pledged this week to improve military communications. Smaller countries, for their part, are alarmed by Chinese bullying—especially over disputed claims to rocks, shoals, reefs and sandbanks around China’s coastline. Chinese high-handedness drove Myanmar towards the West and provoked anti-China riots in Vietnam this year. Asia is arming itself. In the five years to 2013 it accounted for 47% of global weapons imports, up from 40% in 2004-08.

The APEC summit and the Pacific rim: Bridge over troubled water | The Economist

China and the United States Are Preparing for War

“Many people outside the Pentagon may be surprised by just how many senior American officials are worried about a war with China. These include no less than the last U.S. two secretaries of defense, and a former secretary of state.”

Despite the Obama-Xi handshake deal, the probability of confrontation will only heighten as long as the PLA remains a black box.

Should we really be worried about war between the United States and China? Yes. Over the last four decades of studying China, I have spoken with hundreds of members of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and read countless Chinese military journals and strategy articles. Chinese military and political leaders believe that their country is at the center of American war planning. In other words, Beijing believes that the United States is readying itself for the possibility of a conflict with China — and that it must prepare for that eventuality.

Tensions are high not just because of Beijing’s rapidly expanding military budget, or that the United States continues to commit an increasingly high percentage of its military assets to the Pacific as part of its “rebalance” strategy. Rather, the biggest problem is Chinese opacity. While it’s heartening to hear Xi agree to instruct the PLA to be more open with regards to the United States, its doubtful this will lead to any real changes.

China and the United States Are Preparing for War