What China Wants? Fight or Militarize Artificial IslandsPosted: May 10, 2016 | |
In its report “China scrambles fighters as U.S. sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef” today, Reuters quotes China’s Defense Ministry as saying that two fighter jets were scrambled and three warships shadowed the U.S. ship telling it to leave. The US warship was conducting a freedom-of-navigation (FON) operation by sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s Fiery Cross artificial island yesterday.
The FON patrol and the scramble of fighter jets and warships seemed that China and the US wanted to fight and made people worry that such US operation may trigger a war between China and the US.
In fact, no such worry is justified. The US only wants to tell others that the US remains world number one and will protect small nations’ interests; therefore, Daniel Russel, US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said in Vietnam right before US warship’s patrol within 12 miles of China’s Fiery Cross artificial island that the US conducts FON operations as FON was important for smaller nations. He said that as if the US is providing small nations with FON with its FON operations.
However, that is not convincing. If freedom of navigation is so important for US ally the Philippines near Scarborough Shoal, why the US has never sent its powerful navy there to prevent Chinese warships and coast guard ships from driving away Philippine fishing boats that want to operate there?
The Philippines has no freedom of navigation there but the US has taken no action whatever. Why? American people are peace loving. They do not want to fight a war for Philippine fishermen.
However, Chinese people regard US FON operations as humiliation. China certainly has to fight if the US continues such operations.
The Qing Dynasty collapsed overnight when a brigade revolted as the dynasty had been repeatedly humiliated by foreign aggressors and unable to resist.
Chinese people fought bravely for 8 years to resist Japanese invasion when China was very weak and poor.
Such strong nationalism remains as proved by thousands of people paying 128 yuan each to hear some boring anti-US red songs.
Chinese government has to respond to such humiliation strongly or it will lose its legitimacy.
However, as Chinese leaders are wise, they will not fight now. China is not well prepared to fight. However, they will use US freedom-of-navigation operations as an excuse for militarization of the artificial islands that China has spent a fortune to build first of all for military purpose. If the artificial islands have been satisfactorily militarized with deployment of fighter jets, bombers, air defense systems, anti-ship artillery and missiles and warships at the airports and deepwater ports China has built there, US warships, including submarines, will not be able to survive in the South China Sea in a US-China military confrontation. There will not be a naval war in the South China Sea between China and the US as the US is not so stupid to fight a losing war there. “Subduing the enemy without fighting is the best of best.” That is China’s gifted strategist Sun Tze’s teaching.
As a result, there will be no war in the South China Sea now or in the future when China has militarized its artificial islands.
Therefore, militarization of the artificial islands is what China wants to prevent war. That is why according to Reuters, Chinese Ministry of Defense said that the US patrol “again proves that China’s construction of defensive facilities on the relevant reefs in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands is completely reasonable and totally necessary”,
The US is giving China the excuse for the militarization by its FON operations. Both China and the US are making efforts for peace in the South China Sea each in its own special manner opposed by the other!
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which cam be viewed below:
China scrambles fighters as U.S. sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef
China scrambled fighter jets on Tuesday as a U.S. navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea, a patrol China denounced as an illegal threat to peace which only went to show its defense installations in the area were necessary.
Guided missile destroyer the USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said.
The so-called freedom of navigation operation was undertaken to “challenge excessive maritime claims” by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam which were seeking to restrict navigation rights in the South China Sea, Urban said.
“These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise,” Urban said in an emailed statement.
China and the United States have traded accusations of militarizing the South China Sea as China undertakes large-scale land reclamation and construction on disputed features while the United States has increased its patrols and exercises.
Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway which the United States worries China will use to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.
China’s Defence Ministry said two fighter jets were scrambled and three warships shadowed the U.S. ship, telling it to leave.
The U.S. patrol “again proves that China’s construction of defensive facilities on the relevant reefs in the Nansha Islands is completely reasonable and totally necessary”, it said, using China’s name for the Spratly Islands where much of its reclamation work is taking place.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the U.S. ship illegally entered Chinese waters.
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“This action by the U.S. side threatened China’s sovereignty and security interests, endangered the staff and facilities on the reef, and damaged regional peace and stability,” he told a daily news briefing.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waved aside a question as to whether the U.S. aim was to send a message ahead of a visit to Asia by President Barack Obama this month.
“This is not a pointed strategy calculated to do anything except keep a regular process of freedom of navigation operations underway,” he told reporters in London.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the Spratly Islands after China used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross.
“Fiery Cross is sensitive because it is presumed to be the future hub of Chinese military operations in the South China Sea, given its already extensive infrastructure, including its large and deep port and 3,000-metre runway,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
“The timing is interesting, too. It is a show of U.S. determination ahead of President Obama’s trip to Vietnam.”
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Speaking in Vietnam, Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said freedom of navigation operations were important for smaller nations.
“If the world’s most powerful navy cannot sail where international law permits, then what happens to the ships of navy of smaller countries?” Russel told reporters before news of the operation was made public.
China has reacted with anger to previous U.S. freedom of navigation operations, including the overflight of fighter planes near the disputed Scarborough Shoal last month, and when long-range U.S. bombers flew near Chinese facilities under construction on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys last November.
U.S. naval officials believe China has plans to start reclamation and construction activities on Scarborough Shoal, which sits further north of the Spratlys within the Philippines-claimed 200-nautical-mile (370-km) exclusive economic zone.
Tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who looks set to become president of the Philippines after an election on Monday, has proposed multilateral talks on the South China Sea.
A Chinese diplomat warned last week that criticism of China over the South China Sea would rebound like a coiled spring.
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Paris and London, and My Pham in Hanoi; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel and James Dalgleish)