Tag Archives: South China Sea

China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea – Businessweek

At a briefing last month, Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine defense minister, said land reclamation work at Johnson South Reef started in February. There have been reports of Chinese activity at two other reefs in the Spratlys. “They are creating artificial islands that never existed since the creation of the world,” says Eugenio Bito-onon, mayor of a sparsely populated stretch of the archipelago called Kalayaan. “The construction is massive and nonstop,” he says, and could pave the way for China’s “total control of the South China Sea.”

Such alarm has been stoked by Chinese news reports, such as one in February on the online portal Qianzhan. com that said Beijing had drawn up a plan to build a military base at Fiery Cross Reef, about 90 miles west of Johnson South. Establishing islands equipped with airstrips would allow China to set up an air defense zone similar to the one it created in November over a group of islands in the East China Sea where it’s contesting sovereignty with Japan.

China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea – Businessweek

Philippines, US ‘creating’ military base near disputed islands amid Chinese threat | South China Morning Post

Manila seeks to shore up its South China Sea defences – with the help of its US allies

As fears grow that China is on an aggressive South China Sea territorial grab, a sleepy Philippine village is being transformed into a major naval base that may host US warships.

Ulugan Bay, a small, picturesque cove encircled by thick mangroves, has suddenly become a vital part of the Philippine military’s efforts to shore up its defence of contested South China Sea islands and waters.

Ulugan is on the west coast of the large western Philippine island of Palawan, only 160 kilometres from a small group of islands and islets within the Spratly archipelago known locally as the Kalayaan group.

The Spratlys are among the most prized assets in the decades-long but increasingly hostile struggle for control of parts of the South China Sea.

Philippines, US ‘creating’ military base near disputed islands amid Chinese threat | South China Morning Post

Chinese media: China will challenge the US in South China Sea | China Daily Mail

The following is a summary of translations from Chinese media:

China’s large-scale reclamation of land on five reefs to set up military, fishing, fish farming and tourism bases in the South China Sea and construction of a school on Woody Island have given rise to quite lot of speculation amongst Western military experts. They believe that China is building the Chinese version of Diego Garcia. The US military base on the island of Diego Garcia enables the US to control the Indian Ocean.

The US believed a military base on Fiery Cross Reef would play a similar but much smaller role, as the artificial island built there would not be large enough. However, supplemented by other facilities on the artificial islands built on other reefs, a military base on Fiery Cross Reef will be able to control the entire South China Sea.

It turns out that China is actually building a comprehensive base on Johnson South Reef where there is a lagoon, like that on Diego Garcia. The combined navy, air force and army capabilities there including the short- and medium-range ground-based missiles will be hard for the US to deal with.

Chinese media: China will challenge the US in South China Sea | China Daily Mail

Beijing Continues S. China Sea Expansion | Defense News | defensenews.com

“What will it mean for South China Sea stability if additional military airstrips are built? My forecast: nothing good,” Erickson said.

China has active expansion programs on Gaven Reef and Cuarteron Reef, and the placement of a port and airstrip on Fiery Cross or any of the others would “be used to counter a US presence in the Philippines,” said Carl Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

The US military must now face the very real possibility that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will use these islands to implement a new air defense identification zone similar to the one created in the East China Sea last November.

The fear is that all the other claimants, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, will begin building fortifications on reefs, islets and rocks, said Andrew Erickson, a China naval specialist at the US Naval War College.

“Will we increasingly witness an arms race of augmentation as rival claimants fortify features under their respective control with structures, ships, and sand?” he asked.

Erickson questions what this will mean for the otherwise potentially moderating influence of existing norms and international agreements such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea if islets, reefs and rocks are sub­stantially enhanced.

“What will it mean for South China Sea stability if additional military airstrips are built? My forecast: nothing good,” Erickson said.

Beijing Continues S. China Sea Expansion | Defense News | defensenews.com

The stability of the region is continuing to head south with no end in sight. Eventually, Beijing’s fortifications will be used to control the movement of maritime vessels in the South China Sea. That means the end of freedom of the seas in that region. That will obviously apply to US military and intelligence vessels.

The only real solution is to bomb the fortifications under construction. That of course will effectively start World War III. But the restriction of US military and intelligence vessels in that region will be intolerable to the US in the future. And that is where we are headed. If bombing the fortifications will almost certainly bring on World War III, then the region is already at a tipping point. If a small event leads to a huge event, then we have already arrived at tipping point territory. That’s pretty much the definition of a tipping point.

For you, dear reader, what this means is that you had better be preparing for nuclear war. My preferred plan is getting out of the US once we see an event that qualifies as a catalyst. I have not seen such an event – yet but it’s coming.

Would Europe Come to an East Asian War?

Major war in East Asia is a very unpleasant, but not unthinkable scenario. Of course, the US would be involved from day one in any military conflict in the East or South China Seas. However, Europe’s role would be less clear, due to its increasing strategic irrelevance. Most probably, except the UK, Europeans would deliver words only.

Europe’s reactions depend on America

While Asia’s naval arms race continues, tensions are rising further in the East and South China Seas. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that any side will launch a blitz-strike and, thereby, start a regional war. Although China is increasing its major combat capabilities, it is instead already using a salami-slicing tactic to secure its large claims. However, the worst of all threats are unintended incidents, caused for example by young nervous fighter pilots, leading to a circle of escalations without an exit in sight.

Hence, let us discuss the very unpleasant scenario that either there would be a major war between China and Japan or between China and South China Sea neighboring countries, such as Vietnam or the Philippines. Of course, the US would be involved in the conflict from day one. But what about Europe? The Old Continent would surely be affected, especially by the dramatic global economic impact an East Asian War would have. However, reactions of European countries would largely depend on what the US is doing: the larger the US engagement, the louder Washington’s calls for a coalition of the willing and capable will count.

Would Europe Come to an East Asian War?

China Building Dubai-Style Fake Islands in South China Sea – Businessweek

Sand, cement, wood and steel are the latest tools in China’s territorial arsenal as it seeks to literally reshape the South China Sea.

Chinese ships carrying construction materials regularly ply the waters near the disputed Spratly Islands, carrying out work that will see new islands rise from the sea, according to Philippine fishermen and officials in the area. China’s efforts are reminiscent of Dubai’s Palm resort-style land reclamation, they say.

“They are creating artificial islands that never existed since the creation of the world, like the ones in Dubai,” said Eugenio Bito-onon, 58, mayor of a sparsely populated stretch of the Spratlys called Kalayaan, or “freedom” in Filipino. “The construction is massive and nonstop. That would lead to total control of the South China Sea,” Bito-onon said May 28, citing fishermen.

China Building Dubai-Style Fake Islands in South China Sea – Businessweek

South China Sea set for period of protracted confrontation | WantChinaTimes.com

China’s ongoing territorial disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, involving a row over an oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands with the former and over the detention of Chinese fishing boats near the Spratly Islands with the latter, may be just the prelude to a period of protracted strife between China and the two Southeast nations over oceanic resources in the region.

The fishing boat dispute with the Philippines since May 3 highlights the tactics of the Philippines to interrupt Chinese economic activity in South China Sea while avoiding a head-on confrontation with China’s military might. Philippine servicemen and policemen in plainclothes on a fishing boat patrolled the waters before apprehending Chinese fishing boats operating there.

The Philippines has embraced these tactics by drawing on the lesson from two years ago when a Philippine naval vessel detained 12 Chinese fishing boats operating in the lagoon of the disputed Scarborough Shoal only to be expelled by a Chinese naval ship rushing to the scene. The resulting standoff lasted for a month.

South China Sea set for period of protracted confrontation | WantChinaTimes.com

China Refuses to Defend its South China Sea Claims to UN Court – Businessweek

China refused to defend its territorial claims in the South China Sea to a United Nations tribunal because it doesn’t recognize international arbitration of its dispute with the Philippines.

“China’s position that it will not accept or participate in the tribunal case involving the Philippines hasn’t changed,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing today.

The UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration announced yesterday it was giving China until Dec. 15 to respond to the complaint by the Philippines filed in March, when it asked the court to uphold its right to exploit waters within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. So far China has refused any international efforts to resolve the dispute, insisting any discussions on the issue must be held directly between China and the Philippines.

China Refuses to Defend its South China Sea Claims to UN Court – Businessweek

History Is a Weapon in China – Bloomberg View

For China’s autocrats, history is a weapon. This past weekend, for example, a Chinese general told Southeast Asian nations that their territorial claims in the South China Sea were irrelevant because “China has had indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea for around 2,000 years,” reported the state-owned CCTV network. Don’t like it? Then learn to “respect history” as China’s Defense Minister told his Vietnamese counterpart in late May, after Vietnamese protesters turned violent in response to Chinese incursions into what Vietnam considers its territory. In this context, history is the rhetorical equivalent of a dismissive wave of a hand that brings an end to a pointless conversation.

In China’s ongoing dispute with Japan over territory and the right to be respected as Asia’s dominant power, history is used more as a cudgel. Japanese leaders themselves have handed Beijing the weapon, with their highly provocative visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead (including 14 Class-A war criminals), as well as their determined efforts to finesse Japan’s wartime conduct in school textbooks. For Chinese officials, these acts are affronts, as well as opportunities to lower Japan’s standing in the international community.

History Is a Weapon in China – Bloomberg View

Australian Defence Department Secretary Dennis Richardson says risk of conflict in South China Sea is real – ABC News

“Asked by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari what would happen if an accident or miscalculation happened, Mr Richardson replied: “We don’t go there.””

The head of Australia’s Defence Department says there is a risk of conflict in relation to territorial disputes in the South and East China seas.

Tensions are rising over the resource-rich waters, with China in disputes with Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei.

The sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese vessel last week is the latest in a series of territorial confrontations in the South China Sea.

Defence Department Secretary Dennis Richardson has told a Senate estimates committee that no nation wants conflict, but it is possible.

“I don’t believe that either China, Japan or the countries of ASEAN want conflict,” he said.

“However, there is always the risk of an accident or a miscalculation. It is that concern about miscalculation that could lead unexpectedly to something.”

Asked by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari what would happen if an accident or miscalculation happened, Mr Richardson replied: “We don’t go there.”

Defence Department Secretary Dennis Richardson says risk of conflict in South China Sea is real – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australia Calls China’s Actions in South China Sea ‘Unhelpful’ – Businessweek

China’s actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea are “unhelpful,” Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said at a security forum, echoing his U.S. counterpart who called China a destabilizing factor.

“They’ve been certainly unhelpful, and if they’re unhelpful they must be destabilizing,” Johnston, 58, said yesterday in an interview at the Shangri-La security forum in Singapore. “The unilateral action of the declaration of boundaries is completely unhelpful and takes us in the wrong direction.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government is seeking to build out Australia’s defense capacity at a time of rising assertiveness by China in the region. Abbott must balance his nation’s interests between the U.S. — a strategic ally that has Marines based in the northern Australia city of Darwin — and top trading partner China, which it criticized last year for proclaiming an air defense identification zone over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both China and Japan.

Australia Calls China’s Actions in South China Sea ‘Unhelpful’ – Businessweek