Category Archives: Asia

East China Sea Dispute is Getting Worse not Better | cogitASIA CSIS Asia Policy Blog

With China’s growing naval activism through increased incursions by coast guard vessels and jet fighters in surrounding waters and airspace, Japan too has upped its defensive posture. In 2015 Chinese incursions into Japan’s airspace prompted a record-high 571 fighter scrambles, elevating Japanese concerns. Since December 2015, China has stepped up its militarization of the area by deploying Chinese navy vessels at various instances in the contiguous zone around the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. In response, Japan has switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, giving it a permanent intelligence gathering post close to Taiwan and the disputed islands. Japan has furthermore deployed 12 coastguard vessels – successively increasing its fleet presence against China’s upped ante. Even the recent diplomatic talks between China and Japan have failed to de-escalate the tensions. China has stepped up the pressure by dispatching a Jiangkai-1 class frigate to patrol for the first time, followed by another episode of intrusion by a Dongdiao-class reconnaissance ship that entered the contiguous zone of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.

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This string of events has increased the potential volatility of the East China Sea dispute. The accidental risk of a military confrontation between China and Japan in the tensed waters has heightened. The diplomatic failure on either side to adopt a maritime crisis management mechanism further increases the risk. This makes the East China Sea dispute only more complicated and therefore, achieving a resolution seems evermore unlikely.

East China Sea Dispute is Getting Worse not Better | cogitASIA CSIS Asia Policy Blog

Could you imagine what would happen inside China if Japan were to sink one of its ships? The situation would rapidly escalate into something much greater. And it could easily draw in the US which would cause further escalation.

It appears to me that China is expecting Japan and the US to back down. If they don’t then China is prepared for nuclear war over this. Given how China’s actions could, without a lot of difficulty, cause a nuclear war, and China is not only continuing this behavior but escalating too, one can only conclude that China is fully prepared for nuclear war.

So why aren’t the US and Japan preparing for nuclear war?

What would Russia do if the US and China were to launch a nuclear war?

China’s next step in the South China Sea | The Strategist

“Fear of domestic unrest may prompt the Central Military Commission in Beijing to consider the military options more closely.

Certainly military options carry the risk of miscalculation and escalation, and weaken China’s claim to a peaceful rise, but this cost must be balanced against risk in not acting. Failure to act decisively by Beijing could reinforce a domestic perception of a regime ‘all at sea’ with no clear idea how to proceed further, which would then have implications for regime legitimacy and domestic stability. Already Chinese censors are trying to keep a lid on nationalist anger. Fear of domestic unrest may prompt the Central Military Commission in Beijing to consider the military options more closely.

China’s next step in the South China Sea | The Strategist

China Takes Asia Back to the 1930s [with the Threat of War Looming] – WSJ

In 1933, Japan walked out of the League of Nations after being condemned for invading Manchuria. This act of defiance dealt a blow to liberal internationalists’ hopes that global cooperation could lead to a peaceful resolution of the Asian crisis. It also ended decades of Japanese globalization during the Meiji and Taisho periods and set Tokyo on a path of confrontation with Western powers. The ultimate result was the Pacific War from 1937-45.

Could the same thing happen today with China? Beijing’s reaction to last week’s ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration recalls Tokyo’s rejection of the League’s attempt to rein in great-power competition 85 years ago.

The Hague ruling didn’t solve the struggle for mastery of Asia’s seas. Instead it likely exacerbated it, increasing the risk of war.

China Takes Asia Back to the 1930s – WSJ

US Won’t Back Down on South China Sea, Navy’s Top Officer Says | Military.com

“This will not change,” said Richardson, who visited the Chinese North Sea Fleet headquarters in Qingdao and met with fleet commander Vice Adm. Yuan Yubai, the Navy said.

“The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all,” he said.

US Won’t Back Down on South China Sea, Navy’s Top Officer Says | Military.com

Is it Time for the U.S. to Take a Position on Scarborough Shoal?

In essence, the flurry of activity regarding Scarborough in March, April and May of 2016 was meant to send a clear signal to China that the United States sees Scarborough as being different from the Paracels and Spratlys. Although official U.S. policy of taking no position on the merits of disputed sovereignty claims to features in the South China Sea includes Scarborough Shoal, recent US action suggests that it does in fact have a different unofficial view. Since Scarborough is not in either the Spratly or Paracel chains and is not also claimed by any littoral state other than China and Taiwan, and for almost 50 years was treated as though it was under US jurisdiction, changing the US position on sovereignty over Scarborough would not be a stretch. It is the author’s view that the evidence supports Philippine sovereignty over the Shoal. To this point:

When comparing the Chinese and Philippine cases, evidence of effective occupation is not overwhelming in either case – but, of the two, the Philippines’ case is stronger. Most mariners charted this feature only in order to remain well clear of it since it was a hazard to navigation. Similarly, the presence of itinerant fishermen from either China or the Philippines is legally insufficient to establish a legal presence.

But, past activities by the U.S. Navy and Philippine authorities to survey the Shoal so that it could be safe for shipping, constitute some positive occupation, along with its contemporaneous appearance on Philippine charts. Past actions by the Philippine armed forces to exercise law enforcement jurisdiction in the 1960s, both to eject smugglers and to monitor future movement, show intent to exercise jurisdiction over the atoll.

The past uses of the shoal by the U.S. Navy for military activities and its legal assessment that the atoll was part of the Philippines also support the case that the Republic of the Philippines was exercising sovereignty over the atoll. Even though the Philippines today asserts that its current claims are independent of the territory that was ceded by Spain to the United States, the key point is that the U.S. government considered it to be part of the Philippines, and any “occupying” activities which it undertook can be vicariously attributed to the Philippines because the United States was the legal proxy for the Philippine people until full independence in 1946.

Is it Time for the U.S. to Take a Position on Scarborough Shoal?

Freedom of navigation patrols may end ‘in disaster': Chinese admiral | Reuters

Freedom of navigation patrols carried out by foreign navies in the South China Sea could end “in disaster”, a senior Chinese admiral has said, a warning to the United States after last week’s ruling against Beijing’s claims in the area.

Speaking behind closed doors at a forum in Beijing on Saturday evening, Sun Jianguo, an admiral and deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the powerful Central Military Commission, said the freedom of navigation issue was bogus and one that certain countries repeatedly hyped up.

“But China consistently opposes so-called military freedom of navigation, which brings with it a military threat and which challenges and disrespects the international law of the sea,” Sun said.

Freedom of navigation patrols may end ‘in disaster': Chinese admiral | Reuters

Here we have a Chinese admiral directly threatening the US over freedom of navigation patrols. Why would you not take this seriously? Why would you not prepare for nuclear war over this?

In my opinion the Obama administration is seriously delusional. The Chinese have laid everything out for us very nicely: Stop doing what you are doing or prepare for nuclear war. Will the Obama administration listen? So far they haven’t been listening.

“… but on the historical record it [war] is more likely than not,” Graham Allison. Watch this short video:

Destined for War: Can the U.S. and China Escape Thucydides Trap?

Mathematically, the historical record shows that the probability of war eventually happening is at least 75%. Something to think about.

And what is Russia is up to? Russia is practicing for nuclear war. Is that something we should be worried about?

Russian Armageddon Convoy Practices for World War III [July 12, 2016]

Russia Today has a story on a Russian strategic missile exercise that involves a massive convoy traveling from European-Russian border all the way to the Mongolian border. Russian mobile ICBMs have established, permanent bases but leave in groups on month-long patrols. This particular 400-vehicle convoy includes Topol, Topol-M, and Yars mobile missiles, as well as command and control, security, and logistics vehicles.

Topol and Yars missiles are capable of delivering one to four nuclear warheads within roughly a thousand feet of their target, making them accurate enough to destroy American missiles in their silos. This makes them a formidable first-strike weapon capable of wiping out a significant part of the US nuclear arsenal, if the Russians were so inclined.

Russian Armageddon Convoy Practices for World War III

U.S., NATO troop buildup in Eastern Europe to counter Russians is largest since Cold War

South China Sea: Building up trouble – FT.com

In the short term, top of the list of potential Sino-US flashpoints is Scarborough Shoal, 140 miles from the Philippines’ coast where China took control three years ago. Earlier this year, the Obama administration delivered private warnings to Beijing not to begin a new exercise in land reclamation. Although US officials refuse to say if Scarborough Shoal is covered by the mutual defence treaty between the countries, some in Washington would like to see a formal declaration in order to deter Beijing.

“I think we should be prepared to take military action in Scarborough Shoal” if China tries to build a new artificial island, says Admiral Dennis Blair, former head of US Pacific Command. “Draw the line there.”

South China Sea: Building up trouble – FT.com

China’s Tantrum over South China Sea Verdict Continues: Japan, U.S. Are ‘Eunuchs’ – Breitbart

A state-run Chinese newspaper has run an editorial calling the governments of Japan and the United States the “eunuchs” of new Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, following a humiliating loss for Beijing at the Hague over its claims in the South China Sea.

The Global Times ran a piece arguing that the Chinese loss at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague was orchestrated by both Japan and the United States and that their governments’ support of the verdict, which denied all Chinese claims, was a sign that they were “worried.”

The article argues that Manila’s response to the verdict in the Philippines vs. China has been “relatively mild” compared to the two countries. “An old Chinese saying goes ‘the emperor doesn’t worry but his eunuch does,’” the column reads, “meaning the outsider is more anxious than the player. In this case, Washington and Tokyo are the worrying eunuchs.”

China’s Tantrum over South China Sea Verdict Continues: Japan, U.S. Are ‘Eunuchs’ – Breitbart

U.S. launches quiet diplomacy to ease South China Sea tensions | Reuters

However, if that effort fails, and competition escalates into confrontation, U.S. air and naval forces are prepared to uphold freedom of maritime and air navigation in the disputed area, a defense official said on Wednesday.

Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said confrontation is less likely if the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries work with the United States rather than on their own.

“I don’t think China wants a confrontation with the United States,” he told reporters. “They don’t mind a confrontation with a Vietnamese fishing boat, but they don’t want a confrontation with the United States.”

U.S. launches quiet diplomacy to ease South China Sea tensions | Reuters

“I don’t think China wants a confrontation with the United States,”

Of course China does not want a confrontation. China wants everybody to roll over so it can get what it wants. The real question is, will China back down? No, China will not back down, and that is all we need to know. The region will continue to slowly escalate until there is a confrontation with the US or Japan. At that time, if the US or Japan does not back down then I think the stage becomes set for war.

It’s still impossible to predict the timing of such a war, but I think we continue to remain in the danger zone right now.

Beijing’s dilemma after South China Sea ruling: Double down or cool down? – The Washington Post

Now China’s leader is left with a delicate choice. Does he double down on strident nationalism at the risk of stoking the conflict, or does he find a way, somehow, to take a step back?

But he also said the tribunal’s decision had rebounded badly on China’s leader, who he thinks faces significant internal dissent.

“I think this ruling will add significantly to Xi Jinping’s internal problems,” he wrote. “It was a disastrous call to thumb China’s nose at United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) even while claiming to respect it, and the outcome gives many dissatisfied members of Beijing’s elite more fuel for the fire they are lighting under him.”

Beijing’s dilemma after South China Sea ruling: Double down or cool down? – The Washington Post

It looks a lot like Xi Jinping has no choice but to double down. The only question is when?