Category Archives: Asia

China resembles pre-World War II Japan, and the situation is dire

“China’s lawless pursuit of resources and territory is coming to resemble nothing else so much as the behavior of the Japanese empire before World War Two”

“It’s not clear, however, that even well informed Americans realize how dire the situation is.”

Everywhere that China is operating, affairs trend in the wrong direction for a rules-based international order. China’s goal is hegemony in the western Pacific. Once the U.S. is forced from the region and China’s neighbors have accommodated Beijing, it is not too hard to imagine that the People’s Republic will look to seize Taiwan.

Such developments are still in the future, but the coming year will be especially dangerous. Even though the Chinese military cannot yet defeat America in a conflict, China’s politburo is about to undergo a reshuffle. The possible instability incentivizes Chinese leaders to be provocative, in order to harness nationalist sentiment and stave off domestic threats to the regime. Moreover, the Chinese are very much aware that the Obama administration has little appetite for confrontation, and also that a new president, if tested aggressively shortly after taking office, could easily fail her exam.

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The China Test

The article goes on to say that it is possible to solve this problem without war. But my model of how the world works says that war is just like a snow avalanche, and once the snow has fallen it is too late. Only spring can solve the problem without an avalanche. In the real world spring means a significant change in government in China – like to a democracy. How likely is that?

Asia Times: China Gears Up for Missile Warfare With US – Washington Free Beacon

China’s military is developing offensive and now defensive missiles in preparation for a future missile-dominated conflict with the United States.

Beijing’s arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles has been growing steadily for decades as new systems were fielded in an array of ranges – short, medium and intercontinental. Several long-range cruise missiles, capable of carrying nuclear or conventional payloads also are deployed.

Asia Times: China Gears Up for Missile Warfare With US – Washington Free Beacon

Intel Shows China Building Game Changer On Disputed Islands | The Daily Caller

The satellite images show what appears to be an over-the-horizon (OTH) radar station. This type of radar has the ability to detect targets thousands of kilometers away and can be set up to serve as a Ballistic Missile Early Warning (BMEW) system.

The user who posted the pictures told TheDCNF that the “very large size of the array and the construction of the mesh” suggest that the Chinese are, in fact, building an OTH radar system in the Spratlys. He indicated that the structure the Chinese are building resembles the Veronezh OTH radar system in Russia.

Intel Shows China Building Game Changer On Disputed Islands | The Daily Caller

A review of RAND Corporation’s ‘War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable’

Among US analysts, war with China is no longer a taboo subject. RAND Corporation has now tackled the issue head on, publishing a lengthy analysis titled: ‘War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable. So far, Paul Dibb and Mike Scrafton have provided two excellent assessments on what this means for Australia. This review evaluates RAND’s assessment itself.

1. RAND seriously underestimates the probability of a high-intensity conflict escalating to the nuclear level

The authors all but exclude the possibility of nuclear use from either side, especially if the US avoids targets that would threaten China’s nuclear deterrent. In reality, China would have significant incentives for nuclear use if it was greatly disadvantaged in a conventional conflict. For instance, China could use nukes as counterforce weapons against US staging areas in the Western Pacific, calculating the US won’t respond at the strategic level. In extremis, China could even detonate a strategic warhead over a civilian population of a non-nuclear US ally (such as Japan) as a direct challenge to US nuclear assurances and to demonstrate absolute resolve, without forcing America’s hand by attacking the homeland directly. Indeed, I would argue that these outcomes are far more likely than what RAND assumes: China accepting total military defeat.

In other words, the fact that America enjoys overall nuclear superiority appears to have led to dubious assumptions about US-China nuclear dynamics. It would have been better for RAND to simply assume a high-intensity conflict that does not escalate to the nuclear level, without attempting to justify that assumption. After all, it is just as dangerous for US decision-makers to be presented with an unrealistic appraisal of nuclear risk as it is for Chinese leaders having unjustified confidence in their conventional forces.

A review of RAND Corporation’s ‘War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable’

Chinese Threaten Japan, Australia Over South China Sea; Time For US FON Ops? « Breaking Defense

“Are these the signals of a power bent on war?”

The first sharp bilateral provocation in this pattern came when the Chinese government-owned and operated newspaper Global Times said in an editorial that China should fire on any Australian vessel participating in Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea: “If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.”

But the editorial didn’t just include the threat. The paper went on to describe Australia as “a unique country with an inglorious history. It was at first an offshore prison of the UK and then became its colony, a source of raw materials, overseas market and land of investment. This country was established through uncivilized means, in a process filled with the tears of the aboriginals.”

Are these the signals of a power bent on war? Are these the actions of a surging power, one eager to change the balance of power in the South and East China seas? And how does the United States — the lone power capable of leading a regional military response, should it come to that — react?

Chinese Threaten Japan, Australia Over South China Sea; Time For US FON Ops? « Breaking Defense

Chinese Ships, Planes Hold War Games in Sea of Japan – The New York Times

Chinese planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week, the military said, during which Beijing displayed its latest-generation frigate at a time of bitter territorial disputes with Asian neighbors.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website late Saturday that the long-range exercises staged Friday pitted a red army against a blue one in a simulated bomber attack on a naval task force.

It quoted the commander of an unidentified flight wing under the East Sea Fleet, Zhang Wenzhong, as saying the planes found, identified and struck their targets in a “radically short time.”

Chinese Ships, Planes Hold War Games in Sea of Japan – The New York Times

China’s Empty Oceans – Bloomberg View

On Wednesday, Indonesia celebrated its Independence Day with a bang — blowing up several Chinese boats that had been caught fishing illegally in its waters and impounded. China doesn’t dispute Indonesia’s territorial claims, but Chinese fishermen have more pressing concerns. According to reports in Chinese state media this week, overfishing and pollution have so depleted China’s own fishery resources that in some places — including the East China Sea — there are virtually “no fish” left.

China’s Empty Oceans – Bloomberg View

Report: China Could Make a Big Move in the South China Sea Starting Next Month | The National Interest Blog

It seems if the People’s Republic of China is going to make a push to radically alter the status-quo in the South China Sea—by reclaiming the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal that is clearly within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines—we now have a good idea of when that might happen: sometime between early September, after the G-20 summit being hosted in China, and the U.S. presidential election on November 8th.

Report: China Could Make a Big Move in the South China Sea Starting Next Month | The National Interest Blog

If China builds in Scarborough Shoal, it would come ‘after G20 summit’ | South China Morning Post

China will not carry out any reclamation work in the Scarborough Shoal in the disputed South China Sea before hosting the G20 summit next month, but it might begin construction before the US presidential election in November, a source familiar with the matter said.

Beijing would also avoid taking any provocative action in the shoal right now given the Philippines had expressed a willingness to explore new ways to resolve their dispute, he said.

If China builds in Scarborough Shoal, it would come ‘after G20 summit’ | South China Morning Post

If the US does nothing to stop China at Scarborough Shoal, then it’s all over. Scarborough Shoal is a red line due to its proximity to Manila and the US base in Philippines. Failure to respond to China over the Scarborough Shoal means the US should just go home.

Is China Getting Ready to Wage a ‘People’s War’ in the South China Sea? | The National Interest

It was foolish to tie China’s national dignity and sovereignty to patently absurd claims to islands and seas. But party leaders did so. And they did so repeatedly, publicly, and in the most unyielding terms imaginable. By their words they stoked nationalist sentiment while making themselves accountable to it. They set in motion a toxic cycle of rising popular expectations.

Breaking that cycle could verge on impossible. If Beijing relented from its maritime claims now, ordinary Chinese would—rightly—judge the leadership by the standard it set. Party leaders would stand condemned as weaklings who surrendered sacred territory, failed to avenge China’s century of humiliation despite China’s rise to great power, and let jurists and lesser neighbors backed by a certain superpower flout big, bad China’s will.

Is China Getting Ready to Wage a ‘People’s War’ in the South China Sea? | The National Interest

China & East China Sea — US Response to Its Aggression Is Needed | National Review

Our weak, vacillating policy in the South China Sea has been more than matched by our reluctance to do more to support Japan in the East China Sea beyond vague verbal assurances. China knows it can get away with geopolitical grand larceny as long as Obama remains in the White House and John Kerry in Foggy Bottom. That’s one reason why its actions in both seas have been so blatant. Whoever occupies the Oval Office come next January is bound to be less accommodating, and more assertive of U.S. interests, than its current occupant. So China is looking to grab while the grabbing is good, with one eye on the calendar and the other on a U.S.–Japan alliance they hope gets steadily frayed as a result of our relative inaction in the face of China’s outrages.

The Japanese are learning the hard way: When Obama says he has your back, watch out.

China & East China Sea — US Response to Its Aggression Is Needed | National Review