China says U.S. should respect China’s air defense zone


China said on Thursday the United States should respect its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), after Chinese officials warned a U.S. bomber it was illegally flying inside China’s self-declared zone in the East China Sea.

The Pentagon rejected the Chinese call and said it would continue its flight operations in the region.

China declared the zone, in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, in the East China Sea in 2013, which the United States and Japan have refused to recognize.

CNN, citing the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said a B-1 bomber was flying near South Korea on Sunday, and that its pilots responded to Chinese air traffic controllers by saying they were carrying out routine operations in international airspace. The aircraft did not deviate from its flight path.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had not heard of the matter, and referred questions to the Defence Ministry, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“But, generally speaking, I hope that in this region all countries’ actions consider the security concerns of relevant countries and be beneficial for mutual trust, peace and stability between countries,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

“The United States has its own ADIZs. I think if this matter is true, they should respect China’s relevant ADIZ rights,” she added, without elaborating.

A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, Commander Gary Ross, said the United States viewed China’s establishment of an East China Sea ADIZ in 2013 as “a unilateral change to the status quo … that raises regional tensions and increases the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents.”

He said the U.S. military would not change how it conducts its operations.

“The United States will not acquiesce to unilateral acts of other States designed to restrict the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace, as reflected in international law,” he said.” We do not accept, nor do we recognize, the East China Sea ADIZ declared by China,” he said.

The U.S. Air Force deployed a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber for bilateral training missions in Japanese and South Korean airspace on Tuesday, a show of force in response to recent North Korean missile tests.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Nick Macfie and Peter Cooney)

Source: Reuters “China says U.S. should respect China’s air defense zone”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


U.S. says it will not recognize South China Sea exclusion zone


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

The United States has told China it will not recognize an exclusion zone in the South China Sea and would view such a move as “destabilizing,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said on Wednesday.

U.S. officials have expressed concern that an international court ruling expected in the coming weeks on a case brought by the Philippines against China over its South China Sea claims could prompt Beijing to declare an air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, in the region, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013.

Work told an event hosted by the Washington Post that the United States would not recognize such an exclusion zone in the South China Sea, just as it did not recognize the one China established in the East China Sea.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year.

“We don’t believe they have a basis in international law, and we’ve said over and over (that) we will fly, sail and go wherever international law allows,” Work said.

“We have spoken quite plainly to our Chinese counterparts and said that we think an ADIZ would be destabilizing. We would prefer that all of the claims in the South China Sea be handled through mediation and not force or coercion,” he said.

Work spoke as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepared to visit Washington for a nuclear security summit this week.

The United States has accused China of raising tensions in the South China Sea by its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island, a move China has neither confirmed nor denied.

China, for its part, has repeatedly accused the United States of militarizing the South China Sea through its freedom of navigation patrols in the region and the expansion of military alliances with countries such as the Philippines.

In February, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country’s South China Sea military deployments were no different from U.S. deployments on Hawaii.

Tensions between China and its neighbors Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan over sovereignty in the South China Sea have risen after Beijing embarked on significant reclamations on disputed islands and reefs in the area.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Source: Reuters “U.S. says it will not recognize South China Sea exclusion zone”


US Silent at Vietnam’s but Denounces China’ Land Reclamation


Reuters says in its report “Images show Vietnam reclaiming land in South China Sea” today, “Newly released satellite images show Vietnam has carried out significant land reclamation at two sites in the disputed South China Sea, though the scale and pace of the work is dwarfed by that of China, a U.S. research institute said on Thursday.”

Reuters quotes Mira Rapp-Hooper, director of the research institute CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, as saying that the work included military installations and appeared to have started before China began a flurry of reclamation projects last year.

China says its land reclamation is for civilian purpose but the US is unhappy. Vietnam’s land reclamation began earlier and is obviously for military purpose but the US is silent about it.

Why?

The US wants to contain China and Vietnamese military buildup in the South China Sea helps the US contain China.

Perhaps, US may regard its accusation of China as justified on the ground that ASEAN also accused China in its recent summit statement though China is not named in the statement.

As China responded strongly to ASEAN’s statement, ASEAN member Cambodia came out to support China.

Reuters says in another report today, “Cambodia threw its support on Thursday behind China’s position on settling South China Sea disputes, arguing that territorial conflicts should be tackled between claimants and not involve the regional ASEAN grouping.”

“…

“China provides substantial economic and military support to Cambodia, its closest ally in Southeast Asia, but denies influencing its actions within ASEAN. Some commentators say China has the power to use Cambodia as a veto in the consensus-led grouping.”

It is certainly not US business since it is not ASEAN’s business.

However, the US may say it has been influenced by its ally the Philippines as the Philippines said that China build the artificial islands for military purpose.

Commercial Radio Hong Kong reported yesterday that a Philippine navy officer alleged in Philippine congress that China attempted to set up its South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded by saying that China has the right but do not want to set up the ADIZ as the situation in the South China Sea is quite stable. She accused those who have made a hue and cry about the ADIZ for their ulterior ill intention.

I wonder whether the US is one of those who has ulterior ill intention or is but influenced by the Philippines.

Sources: Reuters “Images show Vietnam reclaiming land in South China Sea” and “Cambodia says ASEAN should stay out of South China Sea fracas”

Full text of Reuters reports can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/08/us-southchinasea-vietnam-idUSKBN0NT04820150508 and http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-southchinasea-cambodia-idUSKBN0NS0WV20150507

Source: Commercial Radio Hong Kong “Beijing accuses Philippines’ ulterior ill intention in alleging that China will set up South China Sea air defense identification zone” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


The Enigma of China’s Establishment of East China Sea ADIZ


China does not have the strength to force US and Japanese air forces to respect China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Then why did it establish it? To prove Chinese air force’s weakness?

Certainly not. Chinese leaders were not as stupid as that.

China was provoking Japan to fight a war by its establishment of the ADIZ. At that time, there is popular desire among Chinese people to fight a war against Japan to revenge China’s defeat in the first Sino-Japanese war 120 years ago.

In one of my post on that event, I cited the story of Emperor Shizong of the Late Zhou Dynasty, one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, who established a strong powerbase from nothing soon after succession to the throne by winning an unexpected victory against a strong enemy. At that time, facing strong resistance against his thorough reform and anti-corruption and mass-line campaigns, Chinese President Xi Jinping needed such a victory and China was capable to wipe out US aircraft carrier battle groups near its coasts with saturate anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles.

To prevent US retaliation with nuclear weapons, China began to show off its strategic nuclear submarines and submarine-launched ICBMs in addition to land-based mobile ICBMs that are able to conduct surprise counter nuclear attack minutes after they leave the 5,000 km tunnels China has built for second strike.

At that time, if Japan had fired the first shot, there would certainly have been a war. Why? China’s guiding philosophy now is a mixture of Marxism and China’s traditional Confucianism.

There is Confucius sage Mencius’ well-known saying on war in the Chinese classic Mencius: “Favorable timing is not as good as geological advantage, while geological advantage is not as good as popular support.”

Before entering a war, Chinese strategists have to consider whether there are the three essential factors of timing, geological advantage and popular support for winning a war.

The timing is good as at that time South Korea had been upset by Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine and Sino-Russian relations had been the best ever. No countries will support Japan in the war except the US while China my get Russia’s support in the war.

The geological advantage is obvious: China would have been fighting near its coast with strong support of land-based missiles and aircrafts while the US would have been fighting an expensive war far away from its homeland with logistic difficulties.

Finally, the most important factor: popular support. The US failed in the Korean War, Vietnamese War, and its wars of invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan not because of insufficient military or financial power, but due to lost of popular support in prolonged wars. American people do not want to fight a war, especially a prolonged war! In fact, no people in whatever country support a prolonged war; therefore, it is better not even to begin a war. Xi, however, may make the war short by destroying Japan with China’s over 1,000 intermediate missiles.

However, Xi was wise that he promised to refrain from firing the first shot when US Vice President Joe Biden had a long talk with Xi during Biden’s Beijing visit. He knew that the US would not support Japan if Japan fired the first shot.

As a result, Xi won without fighting a war as previously Japan had sole administration of the disputed Diaoyu (known in Japan as Senkaku) Islands. By that time, Chinese warships and aircrafts patrolled the areas around the islands and Japan was unable to stop the patrols as the US would not support Japan if Japan started the war. The US even regarded it as stupid to fight a war for a few “rocks”.

In addition, China has included the disputed areas in its ADIZ. That certainly pleased Chinese people and won Xi popularity.

China wants Japan to admit but Japan refuses to admit that there are disputes over those islands, but China’s actions prove Japan’s de facto admit of the existence of the disputes.

The truth beneath Xi’s enigma of brinkmanship is Xi’s success in winning popularity at home for establishment of his powerbase and making Japan accept as routine Chinese patrol of the areas.

There is no need for his brinkmanship any more now as Xi has initially established his powerbase with his successful mass-line and anti-corruption campaigns and commencement of his thorough reforms.

Regarding China’s confrontation with Japan, Xi has achieved what China’s gifted strategist Sun Tze upholds in his The Art of War: “Subduing the enemy without fighting is the best of the best.”

However, I have to point out the danger of a fierce war remains due to Chinese people bitter remembrance of their great grandparents’ sufferings during Japanese invasion of China.

Without sufficient repentance, Japan is still faced with the danger of attack of its homeland by China’s more than 1,000 intermediate missiles, which may destroy Japan even with conventional warheads as Japan’s anti-missile capabilities are not enough to intercept most of them.

Chinese people will not support their leaders if China uses all those missiles to destroy any other countries or regions including Taiwan to cause heavy civilian casualties but Japan is the only exception due to Japan’s war crimes in China decades ago.

Source: Chinese classics Mencius and The Art of War (translation of excerpts from Chinese by Can Kai Yee)


China the Biggest Winner in US-Russian Confrontation


Mil.huanqiu.com, an affiliate of Chinese government’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, says in its report today that according to rusnews.cn’s report on August 5, it has so far been unclear what damages the large-scale conflict between the US and Russia will bring to the world ad how participants in the conflict will be benefited, but one thing is crystal clear: China will be the biggest winner.

The website says that US Forbes magazine reports that China does not follow the US in imposing sanctions on Russia. Instead, it openly supports Russia. It will have Russia by his side as Russia will be forced to seek China’s political support. As a result, China has better chances to get energy, natural resources and military technology from Russia.

It believes that China will turn Russia into its stable strategic interior and base of natural resource for it to attain its goal as world leader. However, lots of experts hold that the political alliance between Russia and China will not be lasting as Russia will finally find the alliance too burdensome.

This blogger believes that in fact, Russia and China are each afraid of the other becoming too strong to be a threat to it. Their political alliance has entirely been the consequence of Obama’s stupid diplomacy of putting pressure on both countries at the same time.

However, in spite of the troubles Obama is facing in Ukraine, Iraq and Asia, Obama still wants others to believe that the US remains so powerful a world leader that it is capable of dealing with all the problems alone.

“Russia does not make anything” and China will be stopped if the West continues to be firm towards it, he said in his recent interview with media.

Russia has annexed Crimea and is trying to take eastern Ukraine. It is making something and US cannot stop it because Western sanctions cannot really hurt Russia if China supports Russia.

However, if China remained a US ally and joined US sanctions, the US will subdue Russia immediately.

China could not be stopped when it established its East China Sea Air Identification Defense Zone though the US has been firm in opposing that. The US and Japan have been firm but have not stopped Chinese patrol of disputed waters and air that they regard as being under Japanese sole administration.

Have EU members been firm towards China? No, they are selling advanced weapon and weapon technologies to China and have agreed to work towards the establishment of free trade relations with China.

What about Iraq?

If China joins the US in fighting against terrorists in Iraq, the terrorists there will soon be wiped out.

However, Obama does not want any strong allies. He wants the US to be a lone swordsman to deal with all the evils in the world alone.

Source: huanqiu.com “Russian media: China the Biggest Winner in US-Russian Confrontation: Sino-US War still possible” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Related posts:

  • Obama Strengthening Russian-Chinese Ties dated August 4, 2014
  • Obama Knows How to Talk, but Not How to Lead dated May 30, 2014
  • Obama Strengthening Russia-China Cold War Alliance by His Recent Speech dated dated May 29
  • China & Russia Solidify Alliance, Issue Joint Statement Condemning US Tinkering dated May 23, 2014
  • Russia-China ties at highest level in history – Putin dated May 20, 2014
  • The beginning of a new Cold War: On Putin’s Beijing visit dated June 6, 2012

Verbal Confrontation between Obama and China but No Threat of War Yet


After Obama has reaffirmed US commitment to defend Japan for the disputed Diaoyu (known as Senkadu in Japan) Islands when he is visiting Japan, Chinese Foreign Ministry promptly responded by saying, “No matter what anyone says or does, it cannot change the basic reality that the Diaoyu Islands are China’s inherent territory and cannot shake the resolve and determination of the Chinese government and people to protect (our) sovereignty and maritime rights.”

The verbal confrontation is sharp, but so far there is no threat of war as long as Japan does not fire the first shot because Chinese military is inferior to American one.

What if after years of military buildup, Chinese military is strong enough to confront the US?

The danger of war remains.

Reuters’ clip on the verbal confrontation can be seen at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/24/us-japan-usa-obama-interview-idUSBREA3L1YD20140424.

As for Reuters report on Obama’s visit and the confrontation, the following is the full text of Reuters report titled “Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies”:

U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new “red line” and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands.

His comments drew a swift response from China, which said the disputed islets were Chinese territory.

Obama also urged Japan to take “bold steps” to clinch a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broad regional agreement that is a central part of the U.S. leader’s “pivot” of military, diplomatic and economic resources towards Asia and the Pacific.

U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators failed to resolve differences in time for Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shake hands on a deal at the summit.

The leaders reported progress, but Japan’s economics minister, Akira Amari, said later that remaining sticking points could not be resolved quickly.

Obama, on the start of a four-nation tour, is being treated to a display of pomp and ceremony meant to show that the U.S.-Japan alliance, the main pillar of America’s security strategy in Asia, is solid at a time of rising tensions over growing Chinese assertiveness and North Korean nuclear threats.

“We don’t take a position on final sovereignty determinations with respect to Senkaku, but historically they have been administered by Japan and we do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally and what is a consistent part of the alliance is that the treaty covers all territories administered by Japan,” Obama said.

“This is not a new position, this is a consistent one,” he told a joint news conference after his summit with Abe, using the Japanese name for the islands that China, which also claims sovereignty over them, calls the Diaoyu.

“In our discussions, I emphasized with Prime Minister Abe the importance of resolving this issue peacefully,” Obama added.

Whilst his comments amounted to a restatement of longstanding U.S. policy, there was symbolism in the commitment being stated explicitly by a U.S. president in Japan.

Responding to Obama’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily press briefing in Beijing that the islands belonged to China.

“The so-called U.S.-Japan security treaty is a product of the Cold War era and it cannot be aimed at a third party and ought not to harm China’s territorial sovereignty,” he said.

“No matter what anyone says or does, it cannot change the basic reality that the Diaoyu Islands are China’s inherent territory and cannot shake the resolve and determination of the Chinese government and people to protect (our) sovereignty and maritime rights.”

INTERNATIONAL RULES

Obama also said there were opportunities to work with China – which complains that his real aim is to contain its rise – but called on the Asian power to stick to international rules.

“What we’ve also emphasized, and I will continue to emphasize throughout this trip, is that all of us have responsibilities to help maintain basic rules of the world and international order, so that large countries, small countries, all have to abide by what is considered just and fair,” he said.

Some of China’s neighbors with territorial disputes with Beijing worry that Obama’s apparent inability to rein in Russia, which annexed Crimea last month, could send a message of weakness to China.

Obama told the news conference that additional sanctions were “teed up” against Russia if it does not deliver on promises in an agreement reached in Geneva last week to ease tensions in Ukraine.

Obama and Abe also agreed that their top trade aides, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Amari, would keep trying to narrow gaps in their trade talks.

“This is not something we can reach a conclusion (on) in a short period of time,” Amari told reporters after meeting Froman again after the leaders’ summit.

Abe has touted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as key to the “Third Arrow” of his economic program to reinvigorate the world’s third-biggest economy, along with hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending.

Both sides have also stressed that the TPP would have strategic implications by creating a framework for business that could entice China to play by global rules.

But the talks have been stymied by Japan’s efforts to protect politically powerful agriculture sectors such as beef, and disputes over both countries’ auto markets.

Pointing to restrictions on access to Japan’s farm and auto sectors, Obama said: “Those are all issues that people are all familiar with and at some point have to be resolved. I believe that point is now.”

Experts had said failure to reach a final deal could cast doubts on Abe’s commitment to economic reform and take the wind out of the sails of a drive for a broader TPP agreement.

“If they don’t show progress … it will be harder to use TPP as a spur to reforms,” said Robert Feldman, a managing director at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities in Tokyo. “It gives the anti-reform forces aid and comfort.”

DIPLOMATIC CHALLENGE

The diplomatic challenge for Obama during his week-long, four-nation regional tour is to convince Asian partners that Washington is serious about its promised strategic “pivot”, while at the same time not harming U.S. ties with China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

Obama will also travel to South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Abe – who repeatedly referred to the U.S. president as “Barack” during their news conference – and Obama were keen to send a message of solidarity after U.S-Japan ties were strained by Abe’s December visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Japan lobbied hard to get the White House to agree to an official state visit, the first by a sitting U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Abe is trying to soothe U.S. concerns that his conservative push to recast Japan’s war record with a less apologetic tone is overshadowing pragmatic policies on the economy and security.

“Seventy years ago, when the war ended, Japan gave grave damage and pain to many people, particularly people in Asia. Japan started taking post-war steps by reflecting on this. Japan and Japanese people have continued to take the path of peace for the past 70 years,” Abe told the joint news conference.

“Japan has strived to create a free and democratic country after the war. We have been building a country that respects human rights and the rule of law,” he said.

Source: Reuters “Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies”

Related posts:

  • Obama looks to salvage Asia ‘pivot’ as allies fret about China dated April 17, 2014
  • Taipei Trip by US Cabinet Member First in 14 Years as Efforts for Pivot to Asia dated April 14, 2014
  • China fires shot across US bow ahead of Obama’s Asia trip dated April 10, 2014
  • US Defense chief prods ‘great power’ China to respect neighbors dated April 7, 2014
  • US Not Willing to Be Drawn into War by Japan or Philippines dated February 11, 2014

Obama looks to salvage Asia ‘pivot’ as allies fret about China


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.

The flyover was a vivid illustration of the expanding significance of one of Asia’s most strategic regions and underscored a message that senior U.S. officials say President Barack Obama will make in Asia next week: The “pivot” of U.S. military and diplomatic assets toward the Asia-Pacific region is real.

Washington’s Asian allies, however, appear unconvinced.

During Obama’s four-nation tour of Asia that begins on April 23, his toughest challenge will be to reassure skeptical leaders that the United States intends to be more than just a casual observer and instead is genuinely committed to countering an increasingly assertive China in the region.

Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula – and perceptions of limited U.S. options to get Moscow to back down – has heightened unease in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere about whether Beijing might feel emboldened to use force to pursue its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

There is also suspicion among some Asian allies that if they come under threat from China, the United States – despite treaty obligations to come to their aid – might craft a response aimed more at controlling damage to its own vital relationship with China, the world’s second-biggest economic power.

For Obama, the tricky part of the trip, which will include stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, will be deciding how to set limits on China in a way that soothes U.S. allies in Asia but avoids stoking tensions with Beijing.

“Obama’s upcoming visit will be the most critical test of this administration’s Asia policy,” said Richard Jacobson, a Manila-based analyst with TD International, a business risk and strategic consulting firm.

U.S. officials say the Obama administration’s long-promised “rebalancing” of America’s economic, diplomatic and security policy toward Asia is on track, largely unaffected by the attention demanded by the crisis in Ukraine or persistent troubles in the Middle East.

The Asia “pivot” – as the White House initially dubbed it – represented a strategy to refocus on the region’s dynamic economies as the United States disentangled itself from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But doubts about Washington’s commitment to Asia are simmering in some allied capitals.

“It was a welcome policy change, but will they do it?” Yukio Okamoto, a former Japanese government adviser on foreign affairs said of the strategic shift toward Asia that Obama announced in 2011. “We do not see any actual sign” of its implementation.

When Obama announced the eastward shift, the most dramatic symbol of the new policy was the planned deployment of 2,500 U.S. Marines in northern Australia, where they would be primed to respond to regional conflicts. It took until this month to build up forces to 1,150 Marines based in Darwin, and the full contingent is not due to be in place until 2017.

“The U.S. pivot towards Asia has had very few tangible, concrete outcomes so far,” said Adam Lockyer, a foreign policy and defense analyst at the University of New South Wales.

A SIGN OF ANXIETY

Obama will try to put those concerns to rest while in Manila, where Philippine officials say he is expected to sign a security pact that will allow for increased use of Philippine bases by U.S. ships, aircraft and troops.

Manila’s acceptance of a beefed-up U.S. military presence, a politically sensitive issue in the independent-minded archipelago nation, would reveal the scale of Philippine anxiety over China.

The Philippine Senate voted to evict the U.S. military from their bases in 1991, ending 94 years of American military presence in the Philippines, and has only gradually allowed the return of U.S. forces for limited operations during the past decade.

The Philippine government is struggling to keep control of Second Thomas Shoal, where it has a military outpost on a reef surrounded by Chinese coastguard ships. The outpost itself is a huge, rusting World War Two transport vessel that the Philippine navy intentionally ran aground in 1999 to mark its claim.

Eight or so Filipino soldiers live there for three months at a time in harsh conditions on a reef that Manila says is within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. China, which claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, says the shoal is part of its territory.

Last month, a U.S. surveillance plane was spotted overhead as a Philippine vessel dodged Chinese coastguard vessels to deliver supplies and fresh troops to the outpost.

Such U.S. aircraft normally conduct their missions at higher altitudes, so the fact that its flyover was in full view of journalists monitoring the incident on the surface below suggested that the United States wanted to make its presence known. A Chinese plane and a Philippine military aircraft also flew above the area at different intervals.

The administration has promised that the United States will reposition naval forces so that 60 percent of its warships are based in Asia-Pacific by the end of the decade, up from about 50 percent now. But as the U.S. military budget contracts, that likely would represent part of a shrinking U.S. defense pie.

Obama’s aides brush aside complaints about the U.S. follow-through on the pivot strategy, saying that no matter how much attention Washington devotes to friends and partners in the region, the allies will always want more from their superpower friend.

“Questions by Asia-Pacific allies about the degree of American commitment has been a constant component of our relationship for 60-plus years. It’s not new,” said a senior U.S. official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “It doesn’t mean the U.S. won’t do more to work with them.”

MAKING UP FOR OBAMA’S NO-SHOW

Obama himself helped to fuel some of the skepticism about the United States’ commitment to Asia when he abruptly canceled a long-planned trip to Asia to attend two regional summits last fall and stayed home to deal with a U.S. government shutdown.

Since then, negotiations have dragged on over a proposed U.S.-led trans-Pacific trade pact that is widely seen as the economic centerpiece of Obama’s pivot strategy.

In this tense regional climate, Obama can be expected to appeal directly to Asian leaders to have faith in America’s resolve to keep China in check and discourage any notion that Beijing could emulate Russia’s takeover of Crimea by seizing contested islands and shoals from its neighbors.

“Among countries in Asia, there has been an increase in the level of anxiety about what lessons China may be drawing from Russia and Ukraine,” the senior U.S. official said.

While sticking to a U.S. refusal to take sides in the maritime disputes, Obama will seek to reassure South Korea, Japan and the Philippines that Washington is “fully committed to our defense treaties” with them, the official said.

Obama’s Japanese hosts likely will only be satisfied if the president takes a tough stand against China and in solidarity with Japan amid growing concern that Washington’s defense commitment may be wavering.

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a bitter row in the East China Sea over tiny, uninhabited isles administered by Japan, especially since China announced the creation of a controversial new air defense zone covering the area, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese call Diaoyu.

Relations between Japan and China have been further poisoned by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a controversial shrine for war dead seen as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism – a move that drew U.S. criticism as well.

Obama, the U.S. official said, will send a message during his Asian tour to China that “it should not use intimidation or coercion” against its neighbors.

That is not likely to go down well in Beijing, where visiting U.S. Secretary of State Chuck Hagel faced harsh accusations last week from Chinese officials who claimed that Washington’s regional agenda was aimed at blocking China’s rise.

Source: Reuters “Obama looks to salvage Asia ‘pivot’ as allies fret about China”

Related posts:

  • Taipei Trip by US Cabinet Member First in 14 Years as Efforts for Pivot to Asia dated April 14, 2014
  • China fires shot across US bow ahead of Obama’s Asia trip dated April 10, 2014
  • China angered by latest U.S. arms sale plan for Taiwan dated April 9, 2014
  • US Defense chief prods ‘great power’ China to respect neighbors dated April 7, 2014
  • US Not Willing to Be Drawn into War by Japan or Philippines dated February 11, 2014
  • China: Signals of Imminent War with Japan dated November 11, 2013