China Shall Be Wise Not to Militarize Its Artificial Islands


Dredgers reinforce a site being constructed on the westernmost part of Mischief Reef, located 216 km (135 miles) west of the Philippine island of Palawan, in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative satellite image taken on March 16, 2015 and released to Reuters on April 9, 2015. REUTERS/CSIS's Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe/Handout

Dredgers reinforce a site being constructed on the westernmost part of Mischief Reef, located 216 km (135 miles) west of the Philippine island of Palawan, in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative satellite image taken on March 16, 2015. REUTERS/CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe/Handout

Instead of protesting against China’s large-scale land reclamation in the South China Sea as requested by the Philippines, ASEAN leaders have expressed in their chairman’s summit statement their “serious concerns” on China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea though refrained from naming China. They worry that it “may undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea” and be detrimental to “freedom of navigation in and over-flight over the South China Sea”.

They certainly referred to the military threat those artificial islands may constitute to neighboring states but did not say so directly.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of US Pacific Fleet, however, made it very direct and clear. Washing Post quoted him in its report “U.S. Navy alarmed at Beijing’s ‘Great Wall of sand’ in South China Sea” on April 1 as saying, “China is creating a Great Wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months.”

In my post “China’s Economic v. US Military Approach Regarding Artificial Islands” on April 16, I said, “China must use the vast sea areas it claims in the South China Sea for economic development instead of military purpose.

“That is very important because if China is so stupid as to use those islands for military purpose now, it will make its repeated statements on its pursuit of peaceful rise a 100% lie.”

Moreover, there is no need for China to militarize those islands now, therefore, China will not be so stupid now to turn any of the artificial islands into its military base.

If the US and Japan really begin to patrol the areas near those artificial islands or conduct military provocation in any other manner, it will be a favorable timing for China to militarize those islands.

For now, it is very good timing for China to conduct large-scale land reclamation as the US attention has now been diverted to the ISIS in the Middle East and Ukraine in Europe.

At the end of the day, what counts is the exploitation of the energy and other natural resources, fishery, fish farming and tourism potential there. Only by such exploitation can China really be benefited from its sovereignty over the vast sea area there.

China’s military development and the potential militarization of the artificial islands will cause the US, Japan and China’s other neighboring countries to devote most of their available resources to acquisition of military hardware while neglecting the development of economic exploitation of the islands and areas. Commercial enterprises certainly think it too risky in investing in land reclamation there. As a result, this is the best timing for China to conduct large-scale land reclamation.

The US and China’s contending claimants will realize their error in neglecting the economic exploitation there when China has obtained substantial economic benefits from its artificial islands, but it will be too late for them.

I have mentioned several times in my posts Chinese Confucian Sage Mencius’ well-known saying “favorable timing is not as good as geographical advantage; while geographical advantage is not as good as popular support.”

I have described the favorable timing. The geographical advantage of the artificial islands for control of the vast sea area claimed by China is obvious.

As for popular support, as China lost substantial territories in the century it was weak, Chinese people certainly support their government in maintaining China’s sovereignty over the vast sea areas and the small islands and reefs there as those are the legacy left behind by their ancestors. However, those areas, islands and reefs are remote from Chinese mainland and Chinese people can see them only on the map.

However, if popular holiday resorts have been built on those artificial islands, lots of Chinese tourists will enjoy the blue sky and beautiful clouds in the day and bright stars at night and swim in the crystal clear water there. Chinese people will have a physical sense to love the Chinese territories that they formerly could only see on the map.

That will be the best education of patriotism to gain great popular support for China’s fight in defending its sovereignty over the areas, islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Source: ASEAN website “Chairman’s Statement of The 26th ASEAN Summit Kuala Lumpur & Langkawi, 27 April 2015”

Source: Washington Post “U.S. Navy alarmed at Beijing’s ‘Great Wall of sand’ in South China Sea”


18 Comments on “China Shall Be Wise Not to Militarize Its Artificial Islands”

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  16. George says:

    Making it military ready. After all. An air strip and port can accommodate any type of craft. Radar and coastal guard vessels are essential from day one.

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  18. laopei says:

    That is very important because if China is so stupid as to use those islands for military purpose now, it will make its repeated statements on its pursuit of peaceful rise a 100% lie.”
    _______________________________________________________________________
    i dont understand your basic logic

    where are the conflict between peaceful rise and military installation on the island?

    japan is a pacifist nation – no military – only have self defense force

    yet, they had stronger military in the asian for several decade.
    they spend large amount of money on military.

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