Category Archives: Asia

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

Capt. James Fanell – warning of war with China – has been removed from his position by PACFLT boss Adm. Harry Harris

A senior Navy intelligence leader whose provocative comments this year about Chinese bellicosity stirred an international controversy has been shelved in the wake of an investigation into his conduct, Navy Times has learned.

Capt. James Fanell, the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet, has been removed from that position by PACFLT boss Adm. Harry Harris and reassigned within the command, Navy officials confirmed.

Fanell warned during a February public appearance that a recent Chinese amphibious exercise led naval intelligence to assess that China’s strategy was to be able to launch a “short, sharp war” with Japan, an unusually frank assessment about a closely watched region.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said, adding that when Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights,” this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors,” the Financial Times reported.

Senior Navy intel officer removed for controversial comments on China | Military Times | militarytimes.com

If you happened to have a small shred of confidence in US military leaders, then this move should certainly set you straight. They are too politically correct to defend you.

Inside the Ring: Blunt warning on China – Washington Times

A senior Navy intelligence official issued a blunt warning last week that China’s growing “hegemonistic” threat to security is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region.

“Make no mistake, the [Chinese] navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet,” said Capt. James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet, at a defense conference in San Diego on Jan. 31.

The comments come amid growing tensions between Japan and China over Chinese claims to the Senkaku Islands, near Okinawa and Taiwan, as well as increasing Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea.

China’s navy is escalating efforts to gain control of what Beijing calls “near seas” by using “civil proxy” maritime security ships, Capt. Fanell said.

“They now regularly challenge exclusive economic-zone resource rights that South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam once thought were guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.

Inside the Ring: Blunt warning on China – Washington Times

Panel: Chinese Navy: Operational Challenge or Potential Partner? – YouTube

China’s Dangerous Game – Howard W. French – The Atlantic

Asked if it were possible for a Chinese leader to speak publicly of compromise with China’s neighbors, Wu Jianmin, a former Chinese diplomatic spokesman and a retired president of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese daily, “You would be a ‘traitor.’?”

Captain James Fanell, argued that Beijing was already preparing its forces “to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea, followed with what can only be expected, a seizure of the Senkakus or even the southern Ryukyus.”’

‘Arguably, it [China´s South China Sea claim] would achieve the greatest territorial expansion by any power since imperial Japan’s annexation of large swaths of Asia in the first half of the 20th century.’

If China can impose its will in the South China Sea, at least five rival claimants—all much smaller, weaker Asian states—will be limited to a narrow band of the sea along their coastlines. China would gain greater security for its crucial supply lines of oil and other commodities; exclusive access to rich fishing areas and potentially vast undersea oil deposits; a much larger buffer against what it regards as U.S. naval intrusions; and, not least, the prestige and standing it has long sought, becoming in effect the Pacific’s hegemon, and positioning itself to press its decades-old demand that Taiwan come under its control. Arguably, it would achieve the greatest territorial expansion by any power since imperial Japan’s annexation of large swaths of Asia in the first half of the 20th century.

Early this year, speaking at a conference in San Diego, the director of intelligence and information operations for the United States Pacific Fleet, Captain James Fanell, argued that Beijing was already preparing its forces “to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea, followed with what can only be expected, a seizure of the Senkakus or even the southern Ryukyus.” The Pentagon eventually distanced itself from Fanell’s comments, which some other regional experts have called alarmist. Whatever China’s true intentions, though, Fanell’s remarks conveyed a strong sense of American foreboding about the mounting tensions between Japan and China.

If hostilities broke out today, many analysts believe that Japan would prevail. In addition to their top-drawer American weapons systems, Japanese forces benefit from years of joint training alongside their American counterparts, and are probably more battle-ready than the navy of the People’s Liberation Army.

And yet, paradoxically, China’s new behavior appears to be a reflection not only of rising capability or self-confidence, but also of rising insecurity among the Communist Party leadership, whose legitimacy in the country’s post-ideological era has always rested on the narrow twin pillars of strong economic performance and nationalism. The explosion of social media in China has amplified the voice of populist hard-liners who constantly demand that their country stand tall and not shrink from using force. This seems to have instilled fear in the leadership of looking weak. Asked if it were possible for a Chinese leader to speak publicly of compromise with China’s neighbors, Wu Jianmin, a former Chinese diplomatic spokesman and a retired president of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese daily, “You would be a ‘traitor.’?”

China’s Dangerous Game – Howard W. French – The Atlantic

If China´s current direction puts it on a path toward war, and its leaders can’t back down, then the US should be preparing for nuclear war with China. That it isn’t preparing means that war is even more likely. At this time the only issue is timing. When might a war happen? In my opinion I think we are at risk right now. However, any war will most likely start due to some random event that is impossible to predict. The best I can say is to be prepared personally and keep watching closely.

China’s Rise Has Considerable Potential For War

“The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war. In short, China’s rise is unlikely to be tranquil.”

“Given the history of the Cold War and given that China and the United States both have nuclear arsenals, one might surmise there is little chance those two countries will shoot at each other in the foreseeable future. That conclusion would be wrong, however.”

… The attendant question that will concern every maker of foreign policy and student of international politics is a simple but profound one: can China rise peacefully? The aim of this chapter is to answer that question.

Offensive realism offers important insights into China’s rise. My argument in a nutshell is that if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony. Most of Beijing’s neighbors, including India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam, will join with the United States to contain Chinese power. The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war. In short, China’s rise is unlikely to be tranquil.

What does America’s past behavior tell us about the rise of China? In particular, how should we expect China to conduct itself as it grows more powerful? And how should we expect the United States and China’s neighbors to react to a strong China?

If China continues its striking economic growth over the next few decades, it is likely to act in accordance with the logic of offensive realism, which is to say it will attempt to imitate the United States. Specifically, it will try to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. It will do so primarily because such domination offers the best way to survive under international anarchy. In addition, China is involved in various territorial disputes and the more powerful it is, the better able it will be to settle those disputes on terms favorable to Beijing.

Given the history of the Cold War and given that China and the United States both have nuclear arsenals, one might surmise there is little chance those two countries will shoot at each other in the foreseeable future. That conclusion would be wrong, however. Although the presence of nuclear weapons certainly creates powerful incentives to avoid a major war, a future Sino-American competition in Asia will take place in a setting that is more conducive to war than was Europe during the Cold War. In particular, both geography and the distribution of power differ in ways that make war between China and the United States more likely than it was between the superpowers from 1945 to 1990.

The picture I have painted of what is likely to happen if China continues to rise is not a pretty one. Indeed, it is downright depressing. I wish I could tell a more hopeful story about the prospects for peace in Asia. But the fact is that international politics is a dangerous business, and no amount of goodwill can ameliorate the intense security competition that sets in when an aspiring hegemon comes on the scene in either Europe or Asia. And there is good reason to think China will eventually pursue regional hegemony.

Can China Rise Peacefully? | The National Interest

There is considerable potential for war that exists right now. It´s really a matter of catalyst. What incident is going to set things off?

There is also considerable potential for war with Russia. Given an appropriate incident, then it is entirely possible that both China and Russia might combine forces in order to take out the US.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

In history the probability of war is high when a powerful rival approaches or passes a hegemonic leader. Depending on how you count one gets the following probabilities: 10/13 (77%), 11/15 (73%) or 6/7 (86%). With China approaching the US today, the real probability of war is higher. That’s because historical results are heavily weighted by the US passing Britain without a war. Two democracies with similar cultures passing without a war. That doesn’t exactly describe the US-China situation. Also, one could argue that the rivalry between the US and Soviet Union (Russia) continues today. That means we don’t know the true outcome.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

China’s ‘Eternal Prosperity’: Is Island Expansion a Precursor to South China Sea ADIZ? | The Jamestown Foundation

The expansion of a military airstrip and high-level visit from China’s naval chief this month have put a small island in the middle of the South China Sea back in the international media limelight (Xinhua, October 7; Global Times, October 16). Woody Island, known in Chinese as “Yongxing (Eternal Prosperity) Island,” is an important part of China’s territorial strategy in the South China Sea. As China’s largest occupied feature in the South China Sea and one of only a handful of islands large enough for an airstrip and other facilities, Woody Island serves as a home to Chinese troops and civilian researchers.

As argued previously in China Brief by this author, a major consideration for China’s fighter acquisition and basing is increasing the PLA’s loiter capabilities over areas claimed as part of Chinese territory (see also China Brief, October 10, 2013). The expanded runway will allow for longer-range patrols by Chinese aircraft to support Beijing’s efforts to press its claims of disputed territory. Similarly, the larger patrol vessels China is currently building will allow longer time on station in sensitive areas, and its man-made island building projects further south—such as on Fiery Cross Reef—will allow the permanent stationing of troops on Chinese-held territory in the South China Sea. Merely showing up is often more than half the battle for legitimacy in such disputes, and China is attempting to “be there” on land, sea and air.

Enforcement of a South China Sea ADIZ, which was hinted at by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in November 2013, would be contingent upon the ability to promptly intercept interloping aircraft (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 27, 2013). Shenyang J-11s, if based at Woody Island, would have comprehensive coverage of China’s nine-dash line claim. Forward basing at Woody Island would give Chinese aircraft additional range and faster response time than aircraft flying from Hainan or Guangdong province. By extending the “range bubble” out from the mainland and Hainan Island, a South China Sea ADIZ becomes much more realistic, however provocative it may be.

China’s ‘Eternal Prosperity’: Is Island Expansion a Precursor to South China Sea ADIZ? | The Jamestown Foundation

Vietnam Boat Attacked by Chinese Surveillance Ship – Businessweek

A Vietnamese fishing boat captain said his vessel was attacked this month by the crew of a Chinese law enforcement ship near the disputed Paracel islands, risking a fresh escalation in tensions in the South China Sea.

The Vietnamese were threatened with guns and batons on Oct. 14 after they were chased by Chinese surveillance ship No.46106, said Nguyen Ngoc Khanh, 41, owner and captain of the 15-meter-long wooden fishing boat. The equipment on the five-crew fishing vessel was destroyed, he said by phone.

While Vietnam and China agreed last week to avoid armed conflicts between their militaries, territorial tensions between the two communist countries remain with fishing and surveillance ships acting as proxies in the dispute. In July, a Chinese company removed an oil rig it had placed in contested waters off Vietnam’s coast after skirmishes between boats of the two countries and deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.

Vietnam Boat Attacked by Chinese Surveillance Ship – Businessweek