Tag Archives: South China Sea Conflict

Japan May Send Troops to Disputed East China Sea Islands: Minister | The Jakarta Globe

Japan’s defense minister on Friday warned Tokyo could send troops to a chain of East China Sea islands at the center of a territorial row with China if the simmering dispute escalated.

Satoshi Morimoto said Tokyo’s position had not changed, but confirmed that it would use force to defend the islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

“Senkaku or not, defense of islands is principally conducted by the coast guard and police,” Morimoto told reporters in Tokyo.

“However, the law stipulates that Self-Defense Forces troops can act” if local authorities are unable to handle the situation.

Japan May Send Troops to Disputed East China Sea Islands: Minister | The Jakarta Globe

If Japan wants to send troops, then it must have gotten the idea from China. That’s how feedback loops work. China seeks to station troops on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea, and now Japan gets the idea to send troops to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

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In the South China Sea, New Garrison, Same Old Troubles | Battleland | TIME.com

Chinese authorities announced this week that they would station troops on Yongxing Island, a speck of land about 220 miles (350 km) southeast of Hainan Island. China has designated Yongxing as the capital of a newly created administrative region called Sansha. It is intended to extend Chinese administrative control over the resource-rich Paracel, Spratly and Macclesfield Bank island groups. Those islands — known in China as Xisha, Nansha and Zongsha, respectively — are variously claimed by China and five neighboring countries and have been the source of increasing confrontations in the region.

The official Xinhua news agency said the Sansha military garrison will be responsible for guarding Yongxing, conducting disaster-relief and rescue operations, and “carrying out military missions.” No details on troop levels or what that last bit might include.

In the South China Sea, New Garrison, Same Old Troubles | Battleland | TIME.com

5 Flashpoints in the South China Sea – By Elias Groll | Foreign Policy

Things are heating up in the Greater Pacific. Here are five key spots to watch.

As tensions mount in the South China Sea, an isolated stretch of the South Pacific has become the latest testing ground for how a regionally ascendant China will manage ties with its neighbors. Many fear that China will steamroll its neighbors in securing access to lucrative natural resources — vast reserves of oil, natural gas, and minerals — in the South China Sea. China’s decision this week to name a little-known city on a postage stamp of an island in the South Pacific as the administrative capital of an enormous swath of ocean seemed to confirm those fears.

But what exactly is at stake in the South China Sea? For starters, as many as 213 billion barrels of oil –more than the reserves of any country except Saudi Arabia and Venezuela — according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As a result, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei are engaged in fierce jockeying over the rights to what at first glance are not more than a handful of rocks.

5 Flashpoints in the South China Sea – By Elias Groll | Foreign Policy

What is a flashpoint?

Flashpoint – A place, event, or time at which trouble, such as violence or anger, flares up.

The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air.

So a flashpoint is a potential time-bomb waiting to blow up. The South China Sea has five of them. The East China Sea has one of them – the Senkaku Islands. The timer is counting down to zero, because China’s adversaries are positioning themselves to make it more difficult for China to achieve its goals. If China waits much longer then stalemate will result. And stalemate might very well mean the end of the Chinese communist party.

Will Beijing strike? A window of opportunity is closing in the South China Sea.

Because small-stick diplomacy takes time. It involves creating facts on the ground — like Sansha — and convincing others it’s pointless to challenge those facts. Beijing has the motives, means, and opportunity to resolve the South China Sea disputes on its terms, but it may view the opportunity as a fleeting one. Rival claimants like Vietnam are arming. They may acquire military means sufficient to defy China’s threats, or at least drive up the costs to China of imposing its will. And Southeast Asians are seeking help from powerful outsiders like the United States. Although Washington takes no official stance on the maritime disputes, it is naturally sympathetic to countries of the  Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Some, like the Philippines, are treaty allies, while successive U.S. administrations have courted friendly ties with Vietnam.

Chinese leaders thus may believe they must act now or forever lose the opportunity to cement their control of virtually the entire South China Sea. More direct methods may look like the least bad course of action — whatever the costs, hazards, and diplomatic blowback they may entail in the short run.

China’s Military Moment – By Jim Holmes | Foreign Policy

China’s hard-line stance cause for grave concern : Editorial : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

China‘s attempt to use its military strength, which is far superior to that of Vietnam and other neighbors, to make the South China Sea “China’s Sea” could trigger armed conflict. The situation is grave.

China also unilaterally announced a plan to invite bids for natural resource development in waters that Vietnam claims are inside its exclusive economic zone. Beijing sent 30 fishing boats accompanied by fishery patrol ships to waters around the Spratly Islands and other islets. These actions could cause tension in the South China Sea.

China’s hard-line stance cause for grave concern : Editorial : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Senator Webb: China’s Military Expansion into South China Sea May Be Violation of International Law.

Senator Jim Webb, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, today [Wednesday] said China’s recent actions to unilaterally assert control of disputed territories in the South China Sea may be a violation of international law.

He urged the U.S. State Department to clarify this situation with China and report back to Congress.

“With the resurgence of a certain faction of the Chinese tied to their military, China has become more and more aggressive,” said Senator Webb in a speech today on the Senate floor. “On the 21st of June, China’s State Council approved the establishment of what they call the Sansha City prefectural zone. This is literally the unilateral creation from nowhere of a governmental body in an area that is claimed also by Vietnam. This city they are creating will administer more than 200 islets, sand banks, and reefs covering two million square kilometers of water.  They have populated and garrisoned an island that is in contest in terms of sovereignty, and they have announced that this governing body will administer this entire area in the South China Sea.”

China has refused to resolve these issues in a multilateral forum,” said Senator Webb, who was the original sponsor of a resolution, unanimously approved by the Senate in June 2011, deploring the use of force by China in the South China Sea and calling for a peaceful, multilateral resolution to maritime territorial disputes in Southeast Asia. “They claim that these issues will only be resolved bilaterally, one nation to another. Why? Because they can dominate any nation in this region.  This is a violation, I think quite arguably, of international law.  It is contrary to China’s own statements about their willingness to work with ASEAN to try to develop some sort of Code of Conduct.  This is very troubling.  I would urge the State Department to clarify this situation with China, and also with our body immediately.”

Senator Webb: China’s Military Expansion into South China Sea May Be Violation of International Law.

China takes the gloves off – International Crisis Group

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, the gloves are coming off in Beijing. When it comes to exploiting the weaknesses of its rivals in Southeast Asia – smaller nations also laying claim to the South China Sea – China doesn’t pull any punches.

Until recently, it followed a line of “reactive assertiveness” – responding forcefully to perceived provocations in this disputed body of water. Now, there are signs that China has shed the “reactive” part of its approach.

Beijing took reactive assertiveness for a test drive during the Scarborough Shoal standoff with the Philippines that began in April. While faulting the Philippines for turning a typical fishing run-in into a crisis by sending in a warship, China took the opportunity to defend its claim over the disputed shoal by deploying non-military law enforcement vessels and allowing them to linger in the area. Beijing also didn’t hesitate to wield its clout over Manila’s perennially struggling economy, tightening regulations on imports of tropical fruit that resulted in an estimated $34 million in losses for the Philippines.

Beijing used reactive assertiveness again in response to a maritime law Vietnam passed last month that introduced new navigation regulations covering the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands. Before the ink on the law could dry, China announced the establishment of Sansha City, a sprawling administrative entity which incorporates some of the territory disputed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Earlier this week, Beijing authorized the Guangzhou Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army to form a garrison in the newly created city.

China takes the gloves off – International Crisis Group

South China Sea: From Bad to Worse? – Council on Foreign Relations

Hardening Territorial Claims

Tensions over the South China Sea, which is strategically vital and believed to contain rich deposits of petroleum, go back decades, but over the past two years they have escalated dramatically. China, which in theory claims nearly the entire sea, has in recent years publicly advocated its claims more forcefully. This can be attributed to various causes: Perhaps U.S. economic problems distracted it from Asia in the latter half of the 2000s; China’s leadership recognizes Beijing’s own rising naval strength; China’s government is responding to growing nationalism; China’s resources companies want to expedite exploration of the sea; or some combination of these and other factors.

South China Sea: From Bad to Worse? – Council on Foreign Relations

China’s hawks gaining sway in South China sea dispute – CNBC

China has adopted a more aggressive stance in recent weeks on territorial disputes in the South China Sea as hard-line officials and commentators call on Beijing to take a tougher line with rival claimants.

China’s supreme policymaking body, the Politburo Standing Committee, is made up entirely of civilians, but outspoken People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers, intelligence advisers and maritime agency chiefs are arguing that Beijing should be more forceful in asserting its sovereignty over the sea and the oil and natural gas believed to lie under the sea-bed.

Most of them blame the United States’ so-called strategic “pivot” to Asia for emboldening neighboring countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, to challenge China’s claims.

Dean Cheng, a China security expert at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said Beijing was hardening its stance in the South China Sea and also in other maritime areas where it had disputes with Japan and South Korea.

“We have a broad set of hardliners, not just in uniform, but across the board,” he said.

China’s hawks gaining sway in South China sea dispute – CNBC

Nations at Impasse Over South China Sea, Group Warns

The disputes between China and four of its Southeast Asian neighbors over claims in the South China Sea have become so intense, the prospect of open conflict is becoming more likely, an authoritative new report says.

The disputes, enmeshed in the competition for energy resources, have reached an impasse, according to the report, by the International Crisis Group, a research organization that has become a leading authority on the frictions.

All of the trends are in the wrong direction, and prospects of resolution are diminishing,” said the report, titled “Stirring Up the South China Sea: Regional Responses.”

Nations at Impasse Over South China Sea, International Crisis Group Warns – NYTimes.com

If the nations are at an impasse, and all trends are in the wrong direction, then pressure is likely to build until armed conflict breaks out. Also note that China blames the US for the aggression of Vietnam and Philippines.

This article only covers the pressure in the South China Sea. Pressure in the East China Sea is building as well.

Sansha City Raises Threat of Conflict in South China Sea | World | TIME.com

China has declared its establishment of a municipal settlement on a disputed island chain in the South China Sea. The move, combined with an earlier announcement about the islands’ militarization, further raises tensions in this geopolitical hot spot

For now, the most significant impact of Sansha may be to increase the importance of the conflict for average Chinese citizens. In recent weeks Chinese media have run personalized stories of reporters visiting the islands. “Both the city and the garrison unfortunately raise the emotional stakes for Chinese people,” says Medcalf. “That makes compromise even harder.

Sansha City Raises Threat of Conflict in South China Sea | World | TIME.com