Secrets of China Leading the World in Submarine Technology

Japanese media The Diplomat publishes an article titled “Why the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s underwater fleet still lags behind those of other navies” on Chinese conventional submarine. It shows experts outside China’s ignorance of China’s military modernization.

In fact, the article is based on the opinions of American top expert on China’s submarines, Dr. Andrew S. Erickson, Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC).

Prof. Erickson is indeed the top expert on Chinese submarines outside China, but we shall not forget the fact that China maintains strict confidential its submarine technology.

Though Prof. Erickson knows Chinese language well, he does not have lots of assistants similarly proficient in Chinese language to conduct thorough search of Chinese media so as to find unexpected sources that betrayed some secret about Chinese submarines in reports not related to submarines on the surface.

China’s has some internal sources and in addition the human resources to search Chinese media. I often get the newest information about Chinese advanced weapons from it, but unfortunately, perhaps because of its revelation of Chinese military secrets, its military website mil.qianzhan has been closed recently. As a result, I have lost a major source of information.

The Diplomat’s article says, that China has built Germany’s 396 SE84 series engines under license for each of its Song- and Yuan-class submarines since 1986 and that the Yuan-class is “also said to have incorporated quieting technology from Russian-designed subs and to be equipped with Stirling air-independent propulsion technology.”

Such information is quite outdated.

I had a post that gives a short summary of’s report on China leading the world in conventional submarine engine. Seeing such outdated information in Japanese media based on top American expert, I know how ignorant the US is about China’s rapid weapon modernization. I have to give more details about China’s progress in submarine technology so as to prevent the US from going into war with China rashly due to underestimate of China’s submarine capabilities. says that in its Labor Day report, People’s Daily mentioned in its report on a model worker China’s new hot air engine that has a power 117% higher than imported version. It makes China the leader in such power system

According to the website, the new engine has been developed by No.711 Research Institute specialized in research and development of various types of the power systems for China’s conventional submarines. The one with the highest technology is the AIP power system used in China’s Type 039B submarines.

The AIP engine China uses in its Type 039B submarine is a Stirling Engine imported from Sweden in the 1980s. According to report, Sweden markets various kinds of Type 4-275 engines including 75kW and 110kW ones, but it only sells 75kW ones in the international market now.

Sources say that at that time China imported a 75kW Stirling engine. China succeeded in copying the engine and installed China’s homegrown version in its 039B conventional submarines.

On the basis of the imported Stirling engine, the special engineer team in No. 711 Research Institute has spent almost 10 years in developing a brand new type of engine entirely with China’s own intellectual property.

The website says the new power system will be used in China’s new conventional submarines.

The American expert is entirely ignorant about China’s fourth-generation super quiet and fast nuclear submarines. As I have given detailed description of it in my book Space Era Strategy, The Way China Beats The U.S. I do not repeat here.

Source: “Chinese submarine world leader in its AIP power system” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Neither ASEAN Nor EU Sides with the US in South China Sea Dispute

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said ""No country wants to choose sides between U.S. or China" in his keynote address of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said “”No country wants to choose sides between U.S. or China” in his keynote address of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

After losing to China with respect to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the US retaliated by provoking China with its superior air force and navy.

By doing so the US reveals its long-time deception in reiterating repeatedly that it does not take sides in China’s maritime territorial disputes with other claimants.

Other claimants only claim a part of the area within China’s nine-dash line while the US now, alleging it does not take sides, regards all the area within China’s nine-dash line as international waters and declared its plan to send warships and warplanes into the area of dispute.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders will be dismissed if they back down in the face of US superior navy and air force. CCP will be overthrown if it supports its leaders in submitting to US pressure.

US strategists believe that by joining the dispute the US has checkmated China. Unexpectedly, China responded by publishing its defense white paper stating that its military’s major task is to safeguard China’s sovereignty. China’s determination to carry on its land reclamation in the South China Sea is as hard as a rock, declared Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Wang’s stance was repeated by Chinese military leader General Fan Changlong in Fan’s meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

China is ready to fight as it has developed enough capabilities to destroy US navy near its coast and showcased its nuclear second-strike capabilities to prevent the US from retaliating with nuclear weapons.

The worst scenario is the US cutting China’s trade lifelines, but China can also use its large number of submarines to cut US trade lifelines. China at least has railway link with Europe and the Middle East through Russia while the US has no land link whatsoever with those areas. Both the US and China will suffer if there is a conventional war between them.

China has to take the risk. Otherwise Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream to make China strong to prevent China from being bullied by foreign power will be but empty talks.

I said in my previous post China is certain to fight and asked whether the US was determined to fight.

It seems that the US is not.

US Defense Secretary switched to diplomatic approach to pit other countries against China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea but that does not seem hopeful.

Reuters says in its report “Break the vicious cycle, Singapore tells South China Sea rivals” yesterday that in his inaugurating speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “No country wants to choose sides between U.S. or China”.

Lee perhaps represents ASEAN’s view.

What about Vietnam, a claimant second only to the Philippines in confronting China in the maritime territorial disputes?

Reuters says in the report that China’s representative to the Dialogue Admiral Sun Jianguo held a bilateral meeting with Vietnam’s deputy defense minister General Nguyen Chi Vinh.

Sun said on the meeting, “We believe that through mutual cooperation the two parties will be able to solve the South China Sea dispute”.

What about the EU?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to make the EU take sides. In a separate report yesterday titled “EU, Japan say wary of unilateral actions in South China Sea” yesterday, Reuters says Abe and EU leaders expressed their concerns over “any unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions”

The statement says, “We urge all parties … to refrain from unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion”.

The statement does not specify China’s land reclamation as both China and other claimants are carrying out land reclamation. However, it specifies the threat of use of force and coercion, which is what only the US is doing.

The message in the statement is clear: The EU does not want to take sides but oppose US unilateral “threat of use of force and coercion.

Sad for the prospects of Carter’s failure in the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Source: Reuters “Break the vicious cycle, Singapore tells South China Sea rivals” and “EU, Japan say wary of unilateral actions in South China Sea”

Full texts of the reports can be viewed respectively at and

Can Carter Make China’s Neighbors Force China to Stop Land Reclamation?

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.  Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.
Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Soon after US President Obama’s switch to pivot to Asia, his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at that time visited China’s neighbors in an effort to encircle China. Panetta’s great hope of success lied in India and Vietnam while he was sure he had the support of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Myanmar also counted as a country by US side since the US seemed to have improved ties with it and to some extent driven a wedge between Myanmar and China.

Panetta neglected Russia as he believed that no efforts were necessary as Russia had already been a natural part of the encirclement because of the long-term enmity between Russia and China in history. Moreover, Obama looked down on Russia and believed Russia could do nothing.

Panetta seemed quite successful. He made Vietnam allow the US to use Cam Ranh Bay. India certainly supported the encirclement due to its border disputes with China. However, US close ties with Pakistan were a problem.

Chinese President Hu Jintao was wise to use Russia to counter the encirclement. As US encirclement of China may result in encirclement of Russia too and hinder Russia’s plan to develop its Asian part, Russia’s influence in India and Vietnam removed India and Vietnam from the encirclement.

Now, Reuters says in its report “U.S. hopes Chinese island-building will spur Asian response” today that current US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is going to visit Vietnam and India and attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to warn China’s neighbors about the threat of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea in order to make them oppose China.

Its US second attempt to encircle China, but the situation is worse for the US now than Panetta’s Asian visits.

Hu’s successor Xi Jinping has intensified Hu’s diplomacy to win over Russia while Obama’s blunders have driven China and Russia closer to each other to finally become de factor allies.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine has broken the iron triangle of the US, Japan and South Korea and drove South Korea closer to China.

The great improvement between the two parts of China across the Taiwan Strait has removed Taiwan from the encirclement.

The free trade area (FTA) between ASEAN and China has been very successful so that the two sides are discussing the way to upgrade the FTA. Only the Philippines supports the encirclement now.

Vietnam needs US military support in dealing with China but relies heavily on China for its economy. As Vietnam can get advanced weapons from Russia while US weapons are too expensive, Carter would not be able to achieve much in Vietnam unless the US is able to give Vietnam much, which does not seem likely.

Carter’s great hope of success perhaps lies in India as in addition to the border dispute, India has much more to complain. China’s iron brotherhood with India’s enemy Pakistan is a serious problem. The China-Pakistan economic corridor being built by China will go through Cashmere, an area of dispute between India and Pakistan. That is an even greater problem, but the threat of Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean is not a lesser problem.

After Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to China, I posted an article titled “China Has Won over India by Its Good Intention and Generosity” to describe the great improvement in Chinese-Indian ties due to Modi’s visit. However, the US seems not impressed. At least influential US media The National Interest is not. In its article on Modi’s visit titled “The Chinese ‘century’ is already over”, it quotes Modi as saying to media in China, “I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realising full potential of our partnership,” and “I suggested that China should take a strategic and long-term view of our relations.”

The National Interest says, Modi “surprised observers by telling the Chinese to be more accommodating.”

Only observers like those in The National Interest who are ignorant of the serious problems between China and India were surprised.

Everybody who has some knowledge about Chinese-Indian relations knows the problems. When I talked with ethnic Indian Hong Kong residents about Chinese-Indian relations, most of them did not think the border dispute was a great issue but have serious questions about close Chinese-Pakistani relations especially the China-Pakistan economic corridor that will go through the disputed Cashmere area.

If Modi had failed to mention those serious problems in his talks with Chinese leaders, the improvement in the ties between the two countries would have been but a diplomatic show without any true meaning.

Let’s see what Modi actual said in the official version of his “Prime Minister’s Media Statement in Beijing during his visit to China”.

Modi first says, “Our relationship has been complex in recent decades.

“But, we have a historic responsibility to turn this relationship into a source of strength for each other and a force of good for the world.”

Therefore, he has to deal with the problems along with Chinese leaders.

What has he achieved in dealing with the problems?

He says, “Our conversations were candid, constructive and friendly. We covered all issues, including those that trouble smooth development of our relations.

“I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realizing full potential of our partnership. I suggested that China should take a strategic and long term view of our relations. I found the Chinese leadership responsive.”

The National Interest perhaps has failed to read the last sentence in my quote so that it omits it. It, therefore, believes that Modi went to China to pick a fight instead of finding a way to resolve the serious problems together with Chinese leaders. Can such complicated problems be resolved overnight? Certainly not.

What Modi said in the statement about Chinese leadership being responsive meant that Chinese leaders responded positively when Modi mentioned the problems. They made Modi believe they would make efforts to deal with the problems.

If Carter goes to India with the ill intention to undermine the ties that will benefit both India and China, but is not able to offer India some alternative benefit as great as what India may get from China, Carter will certainly be disappointed even if he exaggerates the threat that may arise from China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea.

Full text of Reuters report can be found at

That of The National Interest’s article, at

My post “China Has Won over India by Its Good Intention and Generosity” can be viewed at

China’s High Altitude Long-range Anti-Stealth “Shendiao” Drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Newly disclosed photo of Shendiao drone

Pedigree of China's drones that is viral on China's web

Pedigree of China’s military drones that is viral on China’s web

Maden flight and appraisal of high altitude long-range anti-stealth drone marked in the pedigree

Maden flight and appraisal of high altitude long-range anti-stealth drone marked in the pedigree

According to, a pedigree of China’s military drones has been viral in Chinese military media. The most mystic in the pedigree is a high altitude, long-range anti-stealth drone.

There is no information about the drone except in a book titled Going Strait Forward: Aircraft Design Specialist Li Ming, which mentions Li Ming vigorously promoting the cooperation with foreigners related to a high altitude anti-stealth drone. No 601 Research Institute has developed an experimental “Shendiao” drone based on the cooperation.

Recently a collection of pictures of a sci-fi drone was posted on a well-known Chinese military forum. Its double-fuselage design is a unique first invention in the world. Its very large wingspan enables it to fly at very high altitude where the air is very thin.

According to the website’s special military commentator Liu Zijun, the core technology of an anti-stealth drone is its early warning capability. China has already developed “Xianglong” drone, but Xianglong’s takeoff weight is too small to carry heavy load so that its range and cruise duration are limited.

China needs quite a few early warning drones to coordinate with its manned early warning aircrafts as China has limited number of KJ-2000 and its KJ-200 and KJ-500 have limited cruise duration and loading capability to carry much equipment. As a result, China lacks the early warning capability beyond the first island chain.

China has to develop small multifunctional cheap early warning aircrafts that are connected to network and easy to use. Shendiao is an ideal one to serve as radar sensors for a manned early warning aircraft. A group of Shendiaos will form a multi-based radar system with a manned early warning aircraft.

Source: “Disclosure of China’s homegrown ‘Shendiao’ double-fuselage drone” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on he report in Chinese)

War of Words Only between China, US in Foreseeable Future

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is greeted by Adm. Samuel Locklear as he arrives in Honululu May 26.(Photo: Joint Combat Camera Center)

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is greeted by Adm. Samuel Locklear as he arrives in Honululu May 26.(Photo: Joint Combat Camera Center)

At China’s strong response to Pentagon’s plan to patrol the territorial air and sea claimed by China, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter responds by isolating China in the Pacific. It seems that the US has not determined to fight a war to stop China’s large scale land reclamation in the South China Sea.

US Defense News says in its report “Carter: China Isolating Itself in Pacific” on May 27, “US Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned China Wednesday (May 27) that attempts to expand its influence in the South China Sea will ultimately lead to isolation for the Pacific power.”

In Carter’s speech in Honolulu, he reiterated US disrespect of China’s claim to the area within the nine-dash line to confirm US intention to play the chief role in the maritime territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

However, Carter said that the US wanted a peaceful resolution of all disputes and only insisted that “The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.” He wants to show that the US does so without any specific enmity against China. It will fly and sail in any area that a certain country regards as its territory but the US regards international air and waters.

Carter’s words confirm that the dispute between China and the US now is that China regards the area within the nine-dash line as its territorial waters while the US regards it as international waters.

However, as both the US and China want peaceful resolution of all disputes, there certainly will be no war.

The US will fly and sail and China will protest. That will be what will happen in the future.

However, the Carter believes that the US has a much fiercer weapon to hurt China: It will use its influence to isolate China in the Pacific.

In fact, the US tried hard to encircle China in the initial period of its pivot to Asia but failed due to China’s successful diplomacy in forming an alliance with Russia, which has influence in India and Vietnam.

Since then, China has made great efforts for close economic ties with Pacific nations while the US has achieved nothing in that respect. China has free trade relations with such Pacific nations as ASEAN, South Korea, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru and Costa Rica. Its free trade area with ASEAN is especially successful. The two sides are now conducting consultations to upgrade the free trade area.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by Russia that includes four Central Asian countries has been quite successful. India and Pakistan wants to join and so is Iran if the sanctions imposed on Iran has been lifted.

The US can only use the argument of China’s military threat to isolate China. Carter is on his way to visit and set Singapore, India and Vietnam against China. However, if China conducts land reclamation peacefully and uses the land reclaimed for civilian instead of military purposes, US trick to scare Pacific nations with China threat will not work. Moreover, if Pacific nations are and continue to be benefited by their close economic ties with China, the US will certainly be unable to sow discords between China and other Pacific nations.

Therefore, if China persists to its peaceful economic approach while the US persists in relying only on military means, it seems that in the end, the US instead of China will be isolated.

Source: Defense News “Carter: China Isolating Itself in Pacific”

Full text of Defense News report can be viewed at

China Issues Defense White Paper in Response to US Military Challenge

China's Shenlong aerospace aircraft

China’s Shenlong aerospace aircraft

The publication of China’s Defense White Paper on China’s military strategy is praised by some as improvement of China’s military transparency. However, as Chinese military follows gifted Chinese strategist Sun Tze’s teaching “The art of war is an art of deception”, one shall not be so naïve as to believe that Chinese military will disclose the secret of its strategy.

Why did China publish the white paper on its strategy now?

The timing is very important. At the same time Chinese official TV media gave a show in its national primetime news of the groundbreaking ceremonies on the same day of two large lighthouses respectively on the artificial islands on Cuarteron and Johnson South Reefs. It was equivalent to a loud declaration that China will intensify its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea instead of stopping it in spite of US military threat.

The white paper declares from another angle Chinese military’s determination to safeguard China’s sovereignty over its territorial land, sea and air.

What we shall pay great attention to is the paragraph on the development of China’s air force. The white paper says, “In line with the strategic requirement of building air-space capabilities and conducting offensive and defensive operations, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) will endeavor to shift its focus from territorial air defense to both defense and offense”.

Offensive operations against whom? Japan or other Chinese neighbors? China can attack Japan and other neighbors with its large number of land-based intermediate missiles, strategic bombers and navy. Offenses by air-space air force is not required.

Only offensive operations against the US require air force, not ordinary air force but air force with air-space capabilities, something like US X-37B China is developing. There has been quite some speculation that the mysterious Shenlong and J-28 aircrafts are China’s X-37Bs, description of which can be found in my book Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S.

The English version of the white paper can be viewed at

That may be too long and boring. Instead readers can view Foreign Policy’s report “China’s Military Blueprint: Bigger Navy, Bigger Global Role” at

or Reuters report “China to extend military reach, build lighthouses in disputed waters” at

China Responds to US Move by Same-day Groundbreaking for 2 Lighthouses

Groundbreaking ceremony for one of the two lighthouses

Groundbreaking ceremony for one of the two lighthouses

In the face of Pentagon’s next move to send warships and warplanes to patrol the areas China claims as its territorial waters, China does not stop its construction of artificial islands there but held the groundbreaking ceremonies of two lighthouses there.

According to CCTV, the two lighthouses are 50 meters high and installed with a lantern 4.5 meters in diameter each. Their designed range is 22 nautical miles.

In fact, in early August, 2014, China’s state-run China News Service said Chinese authorities had been surveying sites for lighthouses on five islands, known in English as North Reef, Antelope Reef, Drummond Island, South Sand and Pyramid Rock.

China conduct the groundbreaking ceremonies of two lighthouses on its artificial islands on the same day on purpose and has the ceremonies shown on China’s official TV media CCTV’s primetime news as open challenge to US military move.

China’s message is very clear: It will go on its large scale construction in the South China Sea in disregard of US military move.

US media Daily Beast has recently published an article “History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea” that believes erroneously that a war between China and the US is unavoidable as China “has declared that its South China Sea claims are a “core interest” that cannot be negotiated and the US regards freedom of navigation as something it “cannot compromise”.

However, at the regular press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 26, the spokeswoman Hua Chunying gave the following reply to a reporter’s question “China today held a groundbreaking ceremony for a lighthouse on Huayang Jiao (also known as Cuateron Reef) of the Nansha Islands (also known as Spratly Islands). What is the purpose for building the lighthouse?”:

China has made it clear on multiple occasions that the construction on maritime features of the Nansha Islands is to better fulfill China’s international responsibilities and obligations in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine science and research, meteorological observation, protection of the ecological environment, safety of navigation, fishery production and services, etc.

The South China Sea is a vital passage for maritime transport and one of the important fishing grounds in the world. A large number of vessels pass through this area, which is under complicated conditions and vulnerable to marine accidents. China’s construction of lighthouses on Huayang Jiao and Chigua Jiao (Johnson South Reef) of the Nansha Islands is to implement China’s international obligations and responsibilities, and provide passing vessels with efficient guidance and aiding services which will substantially improve navigation safety in the South China Sea. Going forward, the Chinese side will continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features of the Nansha Islands and offer better services to vessels from littoral countries of the South China Sea and those sailing through this area.

Since the construction of artificial islands and lighthouses on them are to facilitate the US in exercising its right of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, US military provocation is entirely aimed at containing China. Freedom of navigation is but the excuse the US uses to contain China.

True, the artificial islands can be used as military bases to deprive the US of freedom of navigation, but Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia can better deprive the US of freedom of navigation through the Malacca Strait. Shall the US send warships and warplanes to provoke them?

Source: CCTV “China begins construction of two large lighthouses in the South China Sea” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China “Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on May 26, 2015”

Source: Daily Beast “History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea”

US Leaders Lack Vision in Their South China Sea Move

In general, people with average wisdom refrain from creating enemies. Enemies may emerge in the natural course but a person shall avoid creating enemy.

Now, the US is taking the initiative to make Chinese government and people its enemy by turning itself a party to the dispute in the South China Sea.

I asked the question in my post today: Is the US determined to fight since China is certain to fight? It seems that like what the US did in the past in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US has not made its plan about its next move when it take its current move to threaten China with military force.

The Diplomat published an article that regards the US as a one-move chess player in its action in the South China Sea. The following is the full text of the article:

South China Sea: The One-Move Chess Player

Is the U.S. properly thinking through its South China Sea policy?
By Amitai Etzioni May 25, 2015

The United States’ announcement that it is considering sending military aircraft and ships within twelve miles of a chain of artificial islands China has built up in the disputed Spratly Islands is a troubling move that escalates the tensions and risks in the South China Sea. It reveals once again Washington’s propensity to be a one-move chess player – the kind of chess player that makes a move without considering how the other side will respond, and what it will do then. The U.S. disbanded the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime without asking what these men, unemployed and armed, would do; it fired thousands of civil servants without considering how Iraq’s government agencies would continue to operate without them. In Libya, the United States helped topple Muammar Gaddafi, but it was unprepared to deal with the anarchy that followed.

The obvious question arises: What if China continues its island-building operations despite U.S. warships maneuvering in the neighborhood? Does the United States plan to use force to stop China’s civilian vessels from coming and going? If so, what does the United States expect China’s reaction will be? True, such confrontations are very unlikely to get out of hand. However, history shows that states should be leery of stepping on an escalator without first asking how far they are willing to ride it and how to get off.

The United States and the international community are correctly concerned by China’s moves to change the status quo by creating new facts on the ground, such as increasing the acreage of these islands, building civilian infrastructure on them, or building an airstrip on them. The United States is correct to urge China to work out its differences over the status of these islands with other states that claim territory in the area. (It should ask the same of Vietnam and Taiwan that are also engaged in reclamation in the Spratly Islands.) It would help if the United States ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which provides mechanisms for resolving such disputes; the convention has already been ratified by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam – and most other nations of the world (although not Brunei or Taiwan, the other two Spratly Islands claimants).

If China refuses to resolve the matters at hand the United States and its allies might pressure it with non-military means. After all, China has been very careful to avoid involving its military in the contested islands; it has used civilian vessels and China Coast Guard boats. For the United States to involve its military dangerously shifts the conflict from the realm of diplomacy to a realm in which it threatens the use of force.

The first law of applying power is that every time a state makes a threat, which deploying warships clearly entails, but fails to follow through, it loses twice. First, it loses the immediate issue; second, it loses credibility. The costs of losing credibility are high, because these losses make it much more likely that future threats will be ignored and the threatening state will have to actually exercise its power.

The United States’ credibility at present is very low. Not only has Washington allowed both Iran and Bashar al-Assad to run roughshod over one red line after another, but when the U.S. has used force the results have been disastrous. This has been true of all major U.S. military engagements since 1960, with the singular exception of the 1991 operations to roll back Saddam Hussein’s troops from Kuwait. The United States’ stinging defeat in Vietnam has not been forgotten. Its recent engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen have all undermined its credibility. The inability of the U.S. to push back against ISIS – whose fighters number not more than 35,000 and that lacks an air force, navy, and other components of a modern military – further contributes to doubts about American prowess. Its weakness in the Middle East does not stay in the Middle East, but rather is noted by friends and adversaries alike in East Asia.

Given these facts, any threat made by the United States in the South China Sea is more likely to be tested than if the United States had been effective in the wars it pursued over the past fifty years; that is, is likely to lead to a conflict whose level of escalation cannot be foreseen.

For all these reasons, the United States should refrain from military threats – unless faced with military threats. It should express its misgivings regarding the reclamation of the contested islands through diplomatic means. If need be cancel a top official’s visit or call its ambassador home for consultations, or make some other such nonmilitary moves – but best place more of its warships in the Middle East, where it is losing both one confrontation after another and its credibility.

Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University. He is also the author of Hot Spots and, most recently, The New Normal: Finding a Balance between Individual Rights and the Common Good.

Source: The Diplomat “South China Sea: The One-Move Chess Player”

China Is Certain to Fight, Is the US Determined to Fight?

China's artificial island on Mischief Reef. Photo: U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

China’s artificial island on Mischief Reef. Photo: U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream is so popular in China because it is the dream of a nation that was bullied by foreign power for nearly a century and wants for decades to revive so that it will no longer be bullied again.

As China claims the sea area within the nine-dash line for centuries and has included the area in its map since 1947, US denial of China’s sovereignty over the area is regarded by not only Chinese government but also the entire Chinese people including most Chinese people in Taiwan and overseas Chinese outside China as the emergence of a new bully.

China has no choice but to fight to defend its sovereignty. If the Chinese ruling party the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fails to resist, it will lose its legitimacy and Chinese people’s support for its failure just like the Qing Dynasty and the Kuomintang in Chinese history.

Chinese leaders Hu Jintao had the vision to see the inevitability of such a war as soon as the US began its pivot to Asia and immediately started China’s arm race with the United States. Hu switched China’s military strategy from Deng Xiaoping’s positive defense to wiping out the enemy at sea, for which China has stepped up its buildup of a strong navy and deployment of DF-21D anti-ship ballistic and lots of land-, air- and sea-based anti-ship cruise missiles

Seeing China has already developed sufficient force to wipe out the enemy at sea, Xi Jinping showcased China’s strategic nuclear submarine to tell the US China has sufficient second-strike capabilities if the US retaliate with nuclear weapons when its aircraft carrier is sunk by China.

Xi is clearly aware that in spite of China’s capabilities to wipe out the US navy near its coast, China will lose as the US has overwhelming naval supremacy at high sea to cut China’s trade lifelines.

He switched from Hu Jintao’s strategy of wiping out the enemy at sea to the development of integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense in order to obtain the integrated space and air capabilities to wipe out US navy at high sea.

As it takes much time to develop such capabilities, Xi invented his Silk Road economic belt and maritime Silk Road initiatives to move China’s vital trade lifelines from ocean to land in Russia and Central Asia and along the coastal areas of Pakistan and Iran and near Russia for China’s energy and trade security.

Russia, Central Asia, Pakistan and Iran actively cooperate with China’s efforts, but it takes a few years to complete the move.

The troubles the US has in the Middle East and Eastern Europe will enable China to have enough time to transfer most of its marine trade lifelines to land.

On the other hand, while making great efforts to obtain integrated space and air capabilities, China is developing midcourse ICBM interception missiles to deal with US nuclear ICBMs and SLBMs.

China can focus its investment in nuclear warfare on strategic nuclear submarines and anti-ICBM missiles as it needs not build thousands of ICBMs like the US and Russia due to its none-first nuclear strike commitment.

China has the technology to build better nuclear submarines and to successfully intercept ICBM. It succeeded in intercepting an ICBM in its third test last July.

Now there is speculation that it conducted a fourth test on May 23. It seems US open denial of China’s sovereignty over the sea area China claims in the South China Sea has made China further intensify its weapon development.

The problem is that China lack the technology to build aircraft carriers rival to US ones. If it is able to build four state-of-art nuclear aircraft carriers and the US is stupid to concentrate its 60% navy near Chinese coast to be wipe out by Chinese missiles, China will have equal capabilities to fight US navy at high sea. By that time, China will have the capabilities to fight a war of whatever nature with the US.

Certainly, if the US does not fire the first shot, China will wait till it has developed the integrated space and air capabilities to not only wipe out US navy but also attack American homeland. By that time, China will fire the first shot to shoot down US aircraft and sink US warship when they enter the airspace and waters claimed by China.

China has enough financial resources for its military buildup and Chinese people are willing to suffer economically and even donate funds for that.

Overseas Chinese’s substantial donation to Chinese government during China’s war of resistance against Japan in the 1930s and 1940s proved that.

The problem for China is its lack of necessary technology that is not available abroad. It takes lots of time to develop the technology in spite of China’s great efforts and investment.

Now, the question is whether the US has determined to fight.

US media Daily Beast gives us some ideas what the US may do in its article “History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea” on May 25.

The article believes that as China has declared that its South China Sea claims are a “core interest” that cannot be negotiated while the United States has uphold freedom of navigation from the very first days of its founding, there is no room for compromise.

Therefore, the article regards the South China Sea as the next great war zone.

China has been making intensive preparations for a war to defend its sovereignty but it has no favorable timing for a war near its coast nor favorable timing or geological advantage for a naval war at high sea. It has to wait till it has developed sufficient military capabilities.

Therefore, the US has favorable time to fight a war as soon as possible not near Chinese coast or in the South China Sea but at high sea to cut China’s trade lifelines. It has the best timing and geographical advantage to do so but lacks popular support at home.

The article’s argument about China’s threat to US freedom of navigation is but an excuse US politicians invented for containing China.

Its allegation that China’s sovereignty claims to South China Sea waters “are inconsistent with its treaty obligations and international law” is groundless as China’s claims dated long before the emergence of the treaty and international law.

Therefore, the issue is how far the US will go to contain China now. China is lucky that US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the US heavily in debt so that it has no financial resource to fight an expensive war now with China. In addition the two wars have made American people weary of war.

The international situation is much more favorable for China now. China has Russia as its close ally, which may help China if the US attacks China.

Moreover, the US is busy dealing with its problems in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The articles says “The U.S., if it is to defend freedom of navigation, will have to fly planes into what Beijing considers its sovereign airspace and drive warships through waters China claims as territorial. ‘That would be the next step,’ Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters Thursday (May 24).”

It means that so far Pentagon only plans to send aircraft and warship to provoke China. What China must do is but to keep on warning the US. It will keep on its large-scale land reclamation.

Chinese people will not regard Chinese government as lacking courage in refraining from take stronger actions. After all in the 1950s and 1960s, China warned the US hundreds of times for such activities of US navy. Chinese people were used to read such warnings printed conspicuously on Chinese newspapers at that time.

What really matters is whether the US will take a second more provoking step such as attacking Chinese ships or invading China’s artificial islands to begin a real war on limited scale.

It has favorable timing and geographical advantage now as the artificial islands are far away from Chinese military bases along Chinese coast.

It does not seem likely that the US will take such second step in the near future. However, when China has completed the construction of its artificial islands and deployed air-defense and anti-ship missiles and fighter jets on those islands, China will be able to dominate the areas it claims. As a result, by that time the US will lose the favorable timing and geographical advantage it has now.

Source: Daily Beast “History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea”

Full text of Daily Beast’s article is available at

Suspected 4th Test of China’s Midcourse ICBM Interception

The trailing cloud that web user regards as the cloud left by a midcourse ICBM interception test

The trailing cloud that web users regard as the cloud left by a midcourse ICBM interception test

China Review News Agency says in its report on May 24 that in the evening of May 23, web users in Ningxia, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and other provinces witnessed a UFO. Judging by the photos provided by them, its trailing cloud is unique in shape. The web users suspected that the trailing cloud was left by a midcourse ICBM interception test. On May 24, Global Times interviewed quite a few Chinese military experts, who all believe that the trailing cloud indeed looked like something left by a special test. However, they are not able to conclude that the cloud was left by a midcourse ICBM interception test as a limited number of photos cannot constitute sufficient evidence.

A Chinese military expert who wants to remain anonymous believes that the trailing cloud was too high to be left by an aircraft while that of an aircraft must be parallel to the surface of ground instead of rising up. He regards the cloud as something left by human aerospace activity or some physical phenomenon in the atmosphere.

Moreover, the trailing cloud left by an aircraft usually disappear within a short time while that left by a midcourse ICBM interception test remains for much longer due to the lack of atmosphere at the height of the test.

However, he said that there were too few photos for him to know what test it was.

China conducted three midcourse ICBM interception tests respectively on January 11, 2010, January 27, 2013 and July 23, 2014. I quote in my book Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S. a Chinese Defense Ministry official as telling Global Times that the last test was a successful midcourse ICBM interception test.

In addition there is top expert’s idea on where Chinese tests lag behind the US in spite of three successes in test.

As China lags behind the US, it is quite possible for China to conduct a fourth test nearly one year later to catch up with the US. Moreover, the trailing cloud was seen in an area where the previous three tests were carried out.

Source: Global Times “Web users in Northwest witnessed a UFO that gave rise to speculation about a midcourse ICBM interception test” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)