Neither Japan nor US Can Challenge China’s South China Sea Dominance

Western media Reuters is unhappy that the US cannot force China to accept Hague arbitration award that makes China’s nine-dash line illegal.

China challenged the US with war in safeguarding its rights and interests in the South China Sea and has thus forced the US to give up. That was the greatest event in Asia because if China’s right on the nine-dash line cannot be challenged, according to the nine-dash line, the South China Sea is in fact China’s lake.

I have pointed out in my previous posts that China succeeds due to its win-win economic cooperation with ASEAN resulting in mutual dependence between China and ASEAN while the US fails because it relies only on military approaches.

Former US President Obama indeed tried economic approach and did have an agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership signed. However his successor President Trump has withdrawn from TPP as it is not a win-win cooperation that benefit both the US and other TPP members.

Japanese Prime Minister regards containing China as his top priority. Though TPP cannot bring much benefit to Japan, it does not matter as long as it can contain China. He visited Trump shortly before and after Trump took office to try hard to persuade Trump in vain not to withdraw from TPP.

Abe has tried to rescue TPP to have it without the US but Japan does not have enough economic influence to do so.

Japan has developed quite close economic relations with ASEAN for the purpose of marketing its goods there. However, it has failed to open Japanese market sufficiently in return. Like what the US did in TPP, Japan’s cooperation with ASEAN is again not win-win cooperation. Japan is less able than the US to reduce ASEAN’s economic dependence on China.

Japan, though much weaker than the US, tries military approaches that US has failed.

That is certainly a doomed approach but Reuters shows its happiness on that in its report “Southeast Asia officers board Japanese ship for South China Sea tour” yesterday. It says, “Southeast Asian military officers have embarked on a four-day tour of the South China Sea on the Japanese navy’s Izumo helicopter carrier in the latest sign Japan is stepping up efforts to counter growing Chinese influence.”

The ranks of those Southeast Asian officers are not even high enough to mention in the report raising the question: Is Japan’s move worth mentioning?

Reuters believes that it is worth mentioning especially because Japan is going to sell weapons to Southeast Asian countries.

Creating tension between China and ASEAN will not only contain China but also enable Japan to make windfall profits by selling weapons. What a wise strategy? However, is ASEAN so stupid as to allow Japan undermine its relations with China and thus suffer economically?

Are Japanese weapons advanced and cheap enough to compete with Russia and China?

Japan is not rich enough to subsidize ASEAN’s purchases of its weapons.

Anyway Reuters is happy that at least someone is doing something. It was happy that the US conducted a freedom of navigation operation near a Chinese artificial island, but was disappointed that US government said that the operation was but one of such operations the US is conducting all over the world. It is not specifically directed at China.

Japan is only sending a warship to sail in the South China Sea. It has no plan to sail near any Chinese island to challenge China. That is no big deal at all. Nothing to make Reuters happy! The truth remains that South China Sea is China’s lake and Japanese military dare not challenge that.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at


4 Comments on “Neither Japan nor US Can Challenge China’s South China Sea Dominance”

  1. Fre Okin says:

    Let’s be clear. China’s militarisation of the SCS is solely to defend against US and Vietnam.

    Firstly US threaten Hainan, so it is very important for China to have forward listening post especially in Mischief and Subi Reefs. This is the reason why US make a very big deal about Mischief Reef and deliberately conduct FON there recently. Mischief Reef is as close as China can get to help monitor US presence in Subic Bay and Bashi Channel. This is also why US draw a red line if China militarise Scarborough Shoal which China shouldn’t but perhaps have a Mobile Floating Platform anchored there if needed.

    Meanwhile VN have half of the Spratlys and can easily attack the Chinese reefs for full control. That is why China was forced to build up the Fiery Cross Reef and others to defend against Vietnamese aggression which she had done before to the PH taking Pugad island in the eighties.

    So the reality is China is not out to dominate the SCS but merely to defend herself against US and Vietnamese aggression and oh yes, the sneaky Japanese really want to divert the Chinese attention from Diaoyu/Senkaku to the SCS. If PH and VN people are stupid enough, they will allow the Japanese to show up in SCS often to disturb the peace there and their economy will be seriously harmed. No hope if these people are still thinking like primates which is why they were so easily colonized!


    • Steve says:

      Not sure if China would respect the US red line on Scarborough shoal. Assuming if a pro Aquino/US had won the Philippine Presidency instead of Duterte, China could have started to engineer the Huangyan island. Prior to Duterte winning the election, China’s survey ships was already hanging close to the shoal and the Philippines was certain China was about to start dredging, but then President Duterte decided to ‘jet ski’ all the way to China and separate from the US.


  2. Steve says:

    I don’t see the benefit of SE Asian military officers embarked on a four day tour of the SCS on the Izumo, other than to map specific areas of the sea bottom and release sea drones secretly. Chinese tourists on their charter cruise have lots more fun. Also, I don’t see how Japan will benefit in stepping up efforts to counter China’s rise. The Japanese don’t have the economic weight nor military might to subdue China’s rise. And I don’t see the huge profit margin that Japan would earn thru it’s sale of military weapons and assets. China sells fighter jets, warships, submarines, drones, missiles, etc. What is Japan selling.? Sth Korea sells more military assets including submarines to Indonesia and jets to Philippines than Japan.

    Whilst this is happening, Abe wants to invite premier Li and hopefully President Xi to Japan later this year.?


  3. Joseph says:

    With the countries are currently under life-support from China, what can Japan and America do. The reality is neither Japan or America actually ‘concern’ about ASEAN. They are just jealous became our economy fares better than theirs. Defense seminars are just like exhibition fares for weapons. As they have nothing to offer us, weapons are the obvious choice. Weapons are actually useless. You buy it expensive, so you will be reluctant to test it. Defense manufacturers usually play ‘peacemaker’ too. This way their weapon was needed but hopefully never used. But peacemakers always need conflict. In this case, the SCS is a good excuse for our region. But in an idyllic neighborhood, who needs dodgy security guards, or unnecessary weapons. In SCS, we concern more about pirates and extremists more than American wounded ego. As Reuters standard paragraph writes, ‘there are $5 trillion of trade passing the SCS, and China claims most of it’. It’s a good thing China does. So we can deal with the problems too. If Japanese warship wants to sail to SCS, they are welcome to hunt pirates too. But what is their objective? Show of force, then gone? Sound like a bullying coward. Who would be impressed? What good does it do to the region? Philippines president Duterte recently invites for Chinese Navy, or Coast Guard to patrol Sulu Sea and Sulawesi Sea for pirates and extremists. He said China can do good this way. His invitation may horrify Westerners, but it shows that our concern and priority are different. The Westerners only concern for who dominates who. Our only concern is peace and stability. Beyond that who needs weapons and foxes to guard the chicken.