National Interest’s article “Sunk: How China’s Man-Made Islands Are Falling Apart and Sinking Into the Ocean” on March 12, 2020 describes China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea by the phrase “Shoddy construction plus climate change equals unstable islands.”
Its an article “first appeared in 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest”, according to National Interest.
Now in the year of 2020, none of the islands has collapsed or sunk What is the article’s sensational title based on?
The article says, “Rumors suggest the new islands’ concrete is crumbling and their foundations turning to sponge in a hostile climate. And that is before considering what a direct hit from a super-typhoon might do”.
The rumors are not about fact but only suggest. Can such speculating rumors be the basis of the title that China’s artificial islands “are falling apart and sinking into the ocean”?
Perhaps, such false title may not upset National Interest as its readers like such sensational but false title.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/sunk-how-chinas-man-made-islands-are-falling-apart-and-sinking-ocean-132047.
Reuters says in its report titled “Vanuatu and China deny holding military base talks”, “Vanuatu and China on Tuesday denied a media report that Beijing wanted to establish a permanent military presence in the Pacific island nation.”
Reuters quotes Vanuatu’s foreign minister as saying,“No one in the Vanuatu government has ever talked about a Chinese military base in Vanuatu of any sort” and Chinese foreign ministry spokesman’ description of the report as fake news.
However, the fake news shows how nervous Australia is about China’s rise. However, it cannot help that and is disappointed that the US is unable to contain China’s rise.
In my opinion, a military base in remote Vanuatu is useless for protection of China’s trade lifelines across the Pacific. Better build a few floating islands in the Pacific. Such islands can be deployed wherever China wants and may earn income from fish farming and tourism while China has to pay expensive rent for a military base abroad.
A floating island will make Australia really nervous, and perhaps the US too, but they cannot oppose as they advocate freedom of navigation. China has surplus shipbuilding capacity and lots of funds for such investment. Why does China not use them for island building? The US only knows to build its navy that costs a lot in patrolling the Pacific. China shall build artificial islands not only for defense but also for exploiting the fishery and tourism resources in the Pacific!
I mentioned China’s “Made in China 2025” program and water diversion project in Tibet that may make the US unhappy. The island building project perhaps will make the US even more unhappy. Poor America, It only knows to waste huge funds on its military that scares nobody but lacks funds even to fix its domestic infrastructure, let alone island building abroad.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence-vanuatu/vanuatu-and-china-deny-holding-military-base-talks-idUSKBN1HH019.
I said in my post “China’s Space Era Strategy Overwhelmingly Superior to US Air-Sea Battle” on June 22:
There is no denial that the US regards China as its top potential enemy. Obama made it very clear that his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was directed at China.
Obama’s pivot to Asia, in spite of his claim that it was not directed at China, was directed at China. That was clear to everybody.
The US is obsessed with military solution. That is why it maintains an excessive military budget in spite of its shortage of funds for its people’s welfare and its essential but dilapidated infrastructures. Obama’s major approach for his pivot to Asia was to deploy 60% of US military in Asia.
China follows its gifted strategist Sun Tzu’s teachings: Subdue the enemy with strategy is the best of best, with diplomacy the next best, with fighting the third option while with attacking enemy cities the last choice. Its approaches have been strategy and diplomacy.
I have mentioned China’s strategy to enhance its geographical advantages by its construction of artificial islands with three airstrips in the South China Sea and its weapon strategy to develop integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense. In addition China has subdued the US with diplomacy.
First, there is the question: Has China really achieved that?
Recently, we have well-known US media’s articles on US losing to China. They, though perhaps do not follow Sun Tzu’s instructions, know well in the conflicts between the US and China, diplomacy is preferred to war.
With such a perspective, they publish articles on US losing to China.
First, Foreign Affair published an article titled “The United States Is Losing Asia to China” by Ely Ratner and Samir Kumar on May 12.
As a senior fellow in China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ely Ratner is quite an expert on U.S.-China relations, regional security in East Asia, and U.S. national security policy.
There has been no opposition to the article’s views from any heavy-weight experts.
That article was followed by WSJ article “The U.S. Is Losing the Pacific to China” by Ben Bohane on June 7, 2017. US loss is now much larger: not only Asia but the entire Pacific.
Ben Bohane is a photojournalist, author and television producer who has covered Asia and the Pacific islands for the past 25 years. His article shall be taken seriously.
However, the losses referred to in the articles means diplomatic losses not physical losses. Neither the US nor China have Asia or the Pacific as their own.
Mr. Bohane says in his article, “For more than 100 years, the US has viewed the Pacific Ocean as an ‘American lake’”. It is but US view instead of any US claim to the Pacific. China can regard a large area of the South China Sea as its lake as it has drawn a nine-dash line to encircle the area it claims and no one had opposed the line for more than two decades after it has been included in China’s map since 1947.
The US has never drawn any line whether nine-dash or ninety-dash to encircle the Pacific Ocean to support its claim to the Pacific. If it had drawn such a line, it would have encountered fierce opposition from lots of countries.
What Mr. Bohane means is in fact that China is establishing good relations with Pacific island nations while the US has neglected those nations. The island nations have not been US allies or spheres of influence. Nor are they China’s allies or spheres of influence; therefore, the actual situation there is that China has been making efforts to make friends there while the US has done nothing.
In Asia, what Mr. Ratner means in his article is but US loss of Southeast Asia to China. The US has kept Japan and South Korea as its allies. As for South and Central Asia, they have long been Russia’s spheres of influence. China has not substituted its influence for Russia’s. Even if it has, the areas have been lost by Russia instead of US to China.
As for the Middle East in Asia, the US does seem to have been losing it but not to China as China’s influence there remains very much limited.
What we have to discuss is how the US has lost its influence in Asia, especially Russia, Southeast Asia and Pakistan and how China has been gaining influence in Pacific island nations.
What is Sun Tzu’s teachings?
Sun Tzu says, “In the past, those who were skilled in war made themselves invincible first and then waited for the time when the enemy could be defeated. One relies on one’s own for invincibility, but whether one’s enemy can be defeated is determined by the enemy. Therefore, those who are skilled in war are able to make themselves invincible, but unable to make the enemy surely defeatable.
Therefore, those who are skilled in war put themselves in an invincible position and lose no chance of their enemies’ possible loss. Hence, a winning army fights after it has got the opportunity to win while a losing army fights first and then seek victory.
Let’s see what China has done to put itself in an invincible position. China had been improving its relations with Russia, its long-term enemy in history, For quite a long time since it began its reform and opening up it had been making efforts to improve its relations with Russia as it needed a peaceful environment for economic growth. At the same time, Russia had been trying hard to improve its relations with the West. In fact, at that time Russia adopted a political and economic system quite similar to the West. There was hope that Russia might be accepted by the West.
However, the West always has an intention to contain Russia in order to prevent it from becoming a superpower similar to the Soviet Union. After all, Russia is the major part of the Soviet Union.
China’s improvement in its relations with Russia put it in an invincible diplomatic position to prevent the West from sowing discord between Russia and China. However, though both of them felt the pressure from the US to contain them, there has been no breakthrough to establish mutual trust for closer relations, especially an alliance for that.
Then there was Obama’s pivot to Asia and later the West’s street coup that overthrew a pro-Russia Ukrainian government. China exploited the chances for the establishment of an anti-US alliance between China and Russia.
EU and US mistake in their street revolution to bring about regime change in Ukraine gave China the opportunity to entirely win over Russia and made Russia China’s close ally.
In East and Southeast Asia, China has developed economic relations with ASEAN, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand quietly till the relations become so close as to enable China to set up free trade areas with them. Moreover, China has made efforts to grow its market much larger and even larger that no other market can replace China’s.
China has thus established its invincible position in East and Southeast Asia. Its invincible position in Southeast Asia has been strengthened by its willingness to conduct win-win cooperation with other claimants in exploiting the fish and energy resources in the disputed sea areas. Still it could not defeat the US diplomatically there until the US made the mistake to give China the opportunity to win.
In fact, the US must have been very clear that due to ASEAN’s close economic relations with China, it is impossible for the US to make ASEAN join it in containing China.
Still the US made the mistake in instigating the Philippines to file an arbitration and helping it to win the arbitration without military support to impose the arbitration award. That gave China the opportunity to subdue the US with firm posture to defend its sovereignty and interests militarily while making efforts to win over the Philippines with the diplomacy by allowing the Philippines to fish in the area around Scarborough Shoal and promising win-win cooperation in exploiting the resources in the disputed waters.
China’s diplomatic victory in dealing with the Philippines has caused the US to lose the entire Southeast Asia.
The diplomatic victory in Southeast Asia has made the US unable to use any ASEAN member as its base to attack China. Together with the military control of the South China Sea has removed the threat of US attack at China from the South China Sea.
There remains the threat of the US cutting China’s trade lifelines through the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
For the west route, China has launched its Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road initiative. It has set up land connections with Europe through Russia and Central Asia through the initiative and is now busy building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for connection with the Middle East, which is vital for China’s energy imports.
However, in spite of China’s efforts to develop close economic relations with EU, China’s growing influence in eastern Europe has given rise to EU’s concerns as a result, China’s position though quite strong, cannot be regarded as invincible. However, US mistake in dealing with its relations with EU provides China with opportunity for closer times with EU. China owes its diplomatic victory in Europe to US mistake.
Now, China’s trade lifeline through the Pacific remains unsafe. China’s trade with Americas is much smaller than that with EU but American markets especially those in Latin America have great growth potential.
What shall China do?
According to Wall Street Journal’s article “US Is Losing the Pacific to China” on June 23, China has made multibillion-dollar investments throughout the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia is offering critical infrastructure projects, sending lots of tourists there and providing access to financial inclusion, but the US “continues to neglect its treaty allies in Micronesia and ignore the rest of the region.”
The article says, “Palau is still waiting on US$216 million in funds promised in 2011 as part of its agreement to provide the US with exclusive military access. Similar frustrations may lead the Federated States of Micronesia to terminate its own treaty with the US next year, well ahead of its expected 2023 expiration.”
Again China is establishing invincible position while the US is making mistakes to provide China with the opportunity to win with diplomacy.
If such diplomacy is combined with the construction of artificial islands on some reefs or floating artificial islands, each of which is supported with two aircraft carrier battle groups, China’s trade lifelines across the Pacific will thus be secure.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy and Wall Street Journal’s articles, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/12/the-united-states-is-losing-asia-to-china/ and https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-is-losing-the-pacific-to-china-1496853380
I have just reblogged Reuters’ report that showing Western media’s satisfaction at US Navy’s resumption of freedom of navigation (FON) operation in the South China Sea.
Reuters quotes US officials who would not reveal their identities as describing the operation as challenging China. However, Foreign Policy says in its article “In the South China Sea, the U.S. is Struggling to Halt Beijing’s Advance” yesterday, “The Pentagon sought to downplay the significance of the operation, which it described as routine. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, described the passage at an event in Washington Thursday as ‘not confrontational,’ and said that the so-called freedom of navigation operations by U.S. ships receive exaggerated scrutiny for the supposed diplomatic messages they convey.”
The US can do nothing to put an end to China’s absolute control of the South China Sea with its artificial islands, therefore Foreign Policy says in its article, “Despite a belated U.S. naval patrol, Beijing’s bid to extend its military power over the South China Sea is moving ahead unchecked.”
As pointed our in my previous posts, such FON operations only give China excuse to militarize its artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Foreign Policy describes the situation by quoting Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, as saying, “They basically succeeded in their construction projects, and are now well on their way to having floating bases out in the Spratly Islands, and there’s been really very little pushback and they’ve had to pay very little cost for doing so….It is, unfortunately, now game over.”
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report that I have just reblogged and Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/25/in-the-south-china-sea-the-u-s-is-struggling-to-halt-beijings-advance/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Edpix%205-25&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.
On March 17, I reblogged Newsweek’s article “What Are the Chances of the U.S. and China Going to War?” by David G. Gompert, which regards China’s activities in the South China Sea as the major cause of conflict that may cause the US and China going to war. In addition, the US is unhappy about China’s trade policy, however, the article says, “The stakes are not high enough, and the disputes not severe enough, to prompt leaders of either country to start a conflict outright.”
The article seems ignorant of US desire to contain China in order to prevent China from growing into its rival for world leadership. Obama’s pivot to Asia precisely aims at that and he seemed quite popular at home for that pivot militarily though economically his TPP to contain China met quite loud opposition as the US may suffer instead of benefit from TPP.
Therefore, we shall be very clear that national interests are the major factor that drives a nation into war.
A nation starts a war for gains; therefore, it will not do so if there are no prospects of victory as without victory, the nation will only suffer losses instead of obtaining gains.
China certainly will not start a war with the US as there are simply no prospects for China to win the war. As China seeks no world hegemony, it gains nothing in winning a war with the US but will be benefited from win-win cooperation with the US.
So will the US as if it attacks China. Though its military is anxious to attack China to prevent it from growing into a rival to US world hegemony, its aircraft carriers do not have enough fire power to deal with Chinese air force and air defense (see CIMSEC’s article “The Age of the Strike Carrier is Over” by LT X at http://cimsec.org/age-strike-carrier/30906 and National Interest’s article “5 Ways Russia and China Could Sink America’s Aircraft Carriers” by Robert Farley at )
The US has to wait till it has B-21 bombers to attack China, but we do not know whether China has developed any weapons to deal with B-21 by that time. If China has, the US has to wait for its further new weapons. With the US declining and China rising, the US does not seem to have a bright future to win a war with China; therefore, the chances of war between the US and China are small and will be increasingly smaller in the future.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Newsweek, CIMSEC and National Interest’s articles, full text of which can be viewed respectively at http://europe.newsweek.com/what-chance-us-and-china-going-war-567717?rm=eu, http://cimsec.org/age-strike-carrier/30906 and http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/5-ways-russia-china-could-sink-americas-aircraft-carriers-19811.
I mentioned in my article “The Conundrum of China’s Massive Island Building in South China Sea” yesterday, according to Chinese navy’s plan, building two artificial islands on Fiery Cross and Mischief Reefs costs $5 billion and takes a decade. Now, it takes China a little over one year to complete the construction of seven large artificial islands. There shall be lots of equipment to build them at such devilish speed and most of the equipment will remain idle for a long time after construction of the islands has been completed as there will be no further need for them for quite a long time. The excessive number of equipment used for fast construction greatly increased the costs of construction.
Why such devilish high speed?
On October 21, 2015, Defense editor for The National Interest Dave Majumdar gives an answer to the question in his article titled “China’s Greatest Fear: U.S. Navy ‘Cruise Missile Carriers’”.
According to the article, US Navy shall build additional Ohio Replacement Program submarines to serve as cruise missile carriers for attacking Chinese homeland as it is too risky for US aircraft carriers to go within the range of China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles to enable its fighter jets to attack China as US carrier-based warplanes’ range is limited.
Other US military experts are also of the opinion that US aircraft carriers are vulnerable to the saturate attack of not only DF-21Ds but also anti-ship cruise missiles; therefore, they believe that the US shall use submarine-launched cruise missiles to conduct first strike to neutralize Chinese land-based defense so that US carriers my come near China to conduct the second strike.
Chinese strategists certainly know that even US existing attack nuclear submarines can launch more than one thousand cruise missiles to conduct the first strike from the South China Sea. As US military interference with China’s disputes with its neighbors, especially the Philippines, seemed imminent, China had to build up a network of artificial islands to deploy an anti-submarine network to detect and track US submarines and have anti-submarine aircrafts and helicopters deployed on the islands to destroy US submarines when they have attacked China. It is precisely due to such defense urgency that China made such huge investment to build artificial islands so quickly.
Now, with those artificial islands, China is able to deploy enough anti-submarine facilities and firepower no matter how many ballistic missile submarines the US will build and deploy in the South China Sea. They constitute effective deterrence to US submarine attack of Chinese homeland.
As for surface fleets, a US study believes that a floating island together with two aircraft carriers is equivalent to 5 aircraft carriers. The three airports on three artificial islands in the Spratly Islands will be equivalent to at lease 9 aircraft carriers as they may support and supplement one another. Moreover, fixed artificial islands can carry much heavier loads than floating ones; therefore, they may have even greater firepower. For example, heavy fighter jets, fighter/bombers and bombers can take off from the long runway on the three islands to dominate the airspace and sink all US warships even without the help of the anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles from China’s southeastern coast.
As a result, in a war between China and the US, South China Sea will become forbidden area to US navy.
I mentioned in my article yesterday China’s defense strategy in establishing its Sansha prefecture-level city. When Sansha has grown into a true prefecture-level city, US warships will be sailing within the city when it patrols the South China Sea. They will thus be in a very dangerous position in sailing within a Chinese city. The establishment of Sansha City has thus put an end to US hegemony in the South China Sea!
However, if the city is established merely for military purpose, it will be a heavy financial burden on the state. The development of fishery, fish farming, energy exploitation and tourism will enable China to recover the costs and even make profits from the city. In that way, China is able to do more things in developing its military with a military budget much smaller than America’s.
Moreover, only by the establishment of Sansha City in the South China Sea can China really have the area claimed by it. A country’s marine area does not exist in map or its claim. There has to be extensive physical presence. The artificial islands, the permanent residents and tourists on them, the fish farming, the energy exploitation, the fishing boats and perhaps the floating islands that China will build there in the future will be China’s actual presence there. Only in that way will China be really benefited by its rights and interests in the area.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
In January 2014, the military column of qianzhan.com published a report bases on expert sources that Chinese navy has drawn up a plan to take all the islands occupied by the Philippines but claimed by China as its territories, especially Zhongye Island. It would be a battle restricted within the South China Sea and there was no plan to attack Philippine homeland.
Zhongye Island is located near the center of the South China Sea. An air base there can control the entire sea while the air bases on Chinese coast are too far away to do so.
On February 11, 2014, qianzhan.com carried a report titled “Revelation of China’s plan on US$5 billion ‘super aircraft carrier’, a shocking deployment at South China Sea” on PLAN’s plan to spend US$5 billion to build two large artificial islands respectively at Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.
That was the first time ever that the construction of artificial islands was mentioned in Chinese media. It proved PLAN’s failure to obtain approval for attacking Zhongye Island.
An air base on the artificial island on Fiery Cross Reef can also control the entire South China Sea while that on Mischief reef will be a fishery and fish farming base to provide income to recover the huge construction costs so that the construction of the artificial islands will not be a financial burden on the state. Anyway, the construction costs less than an aircraft carrier, but the island is a huge unsinkable aircraft carrier with much great fire power. PLAN plans to build the island in 10 years equal to the duration in building a large aircraft carrier.
At that time, little attention was paid to the report due to the doubt whether such an expensive plan will be adopted by China’s central authority. Chinese navy itself feared that the costs were too huge so that it suggested the construction of a fishing and fish farming center on Mischief Reef to recover the costs.
The Establishment of a Prefecture-level City with No Land or Population
There was no further news about the construction of islands on reefs for quite some time. Perhaps, the construction is too expensive. $5 billion is quite a lot of money. However, suddenly, the Philippines found that China was conducting large-scale land reclamation on quite a few reefs in the South China Sea.
The US and Philippines regard the reclamation as a military move.
The Washington Post carries an article by Simon Denyer titled “U.S. Navy alarmed at Beijing’s ‘Great Wall of sand’ in South China Sea”. The term “Great Wall” certainly means that the writer of the article regards the reclamation as a military project.
The article says, “Last month, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concerns that the program was an attempt to ‘militarize outposts on disputed land features.’”
In fact, the reclamation is not for military purpose though the artificial islands built on the reefs have military investment value.
What then is the truth beneath the conundrum?
The article quotes Yanmei Xie, senior China analyst with the International Crisis Group in Beijing, as saying, “Although China’s exact intention is unclear so far, they are likely mainly designed to extend China’s power projection, by expanding, for example, its surveillance, early warning and air interception capabilities further out into the sea. With these added capabilities, China could have a de facto ‘air defense identification zone’ in the South China Sea, even though it may not rush to declare one out of concern for the political and diplomatic fallout.”
The full text of Washington Post’s article can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-navy-alarmed-at-beijings-great-wall-of-sand-in-south-china-sea/2015/04/01/dda11d76-70d7-4b69-bd87-292bd18f5918_story.html?tid=pm_world_pop_b:
China’s exact intention is not clear?
When China established prefecture-level Sansha City to govern the islands and reefs in the South China Sea in 2012, its intention was not quite clear. There are three levels of city in China: provincial-level city such as Beijing and Shanghai ranking the same as a province but are, in fact, more important than a province as the Party chief in charge of the city is usually one of the 20 plus Politburo member; prefecture-level city directly under a province that has a few counties and county-level cities under it; and county-level city. Usually a county has a population exceeding a hundred thousand while a county-level city has a larger population than a county.
People wonder what China was up to in establishing such a high-level city there. There is little land in the city and only a negligible population of around 1,000 people.
However, the reclamation to build large islands has made China’s intention very clear in establishing the prefecture-level city. China is filling the city with land through land reclamation.
As a city is usually densely populated, a dozen square kilometers of land is quite enough for a beginning, but the land has to be filled with people. Now, China is constructing buildings on the land reclaimed to house the people it will soon transfer to the artificial islands.
First, there will be fishermen and fish farmers. Using China’s artificial islands as fishing bases, Chinese fishermen can go deep into the South China Sea to fish much more easily with much less fuel cost. Moreover, the islands will be the bases for energy exploitation. Lots of oil exploitation support facilities will be located there. As a result, more and more fishermen, fish farmers and energy exploration and exploitation workers will live on the islands. They are doing well-paid jobs and need various facilities to make their life there enjoyable such as hospitals, clinics, restaurants, supermarkets, clubs and even theaters for the residents there.
When the islands in Sansha city have prospered with such facilities, China will develop tourism there. Chinese tourists will flock to the islands instead of Maldives, Jeju, Bali, Basha, Palau, etc. due to easier access and communications, better services and lower costs. The seafood there will be especially fresh, cheap and diversified when fishery and fishing farming prosper there.
Sansha City will grow fast into a true prefecture-level city. That is the truth beneath the conundrum.
In Chinese history, China often built cities on its remote border and fill them first with garrison that live on the farming there and then moved people there. That is a good way to defend China’s long border.
The development of Sansha City is but the extension of China’s traditional way to defend its border. The only difference now is but the defense of China’s sea area instead of land area.
Washington Post says in its report, “The US and Philippines regard the reclamation as a military move.”
It is in fact a combined military and civilian move. The three airports on the islands can control the entire South China Sea.
The establishment of Sansha City has thus put an end to US hegemony in the South China Sea!
However, if the city is established merely for military purpose, it will be very expensive to build and maintain. The development of fishery, fish farming, energy exploitation and tourism will enable China to recover the costs and even make profits from the city.
Moreover, only by the establishment of the maritime Sansha City in the South China Sea can China really have the area claimed by it. A country’s marine area does not exist in map or its claim. There has to be physical presence. The artificial islands, the fish farming, the energy exploitation, the fishing boats and perhaps the floating island that China will build there will be China’s actual presence there and China will be really benefited by its rights and interests in the area by such presence.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
Reuters says in its report “Exclusive: China finishing South China Sea buildings that could house missiles – U.S. officials” yesterday that two US officials told it that China is nearly finished building quite a few structures for housing long-range surface-to-air missiles. on its artificial islands in the South China Sea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said something harsh about China’s island building in the South China Sea before his formal appointment, but according to Reuters’ report “Tillerson affirms importance of constructive U.S.-China ties” I have reblogged today, he now wants constructive ties with China and the statement of his department on his telephone conversation with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi simply does not mention the South China Sea.
Trump and Tillerson’s silence on China’s deployment of missiles and US navy’s patrol in the South China Sea make people guess what Trump’s real China policies are.
As a result, Reuters says in its another report “ASEAN unsettled by China weapon systems, tension in South China Sea” yesterday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said after ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in the Philippines yesterday that Asian countries saw China’s installation of weapons in the South China Sea as “very unsettling” and have urged dialogue to stop an escalation of “recent developments.”
Obviously, ASEAN believes China’s deployment of missiles on those islands is to deal with US aircraft carriers battle group that has announced it will conduct freedom of navigation operations near the islands. In its report, Reuters quotes Yasay as saying that the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability.
According to Yasay, ASEAN were confident a framework for a code of maritime conduct could be agreed with Beijing by June. As a result, tension among various South China Sea claimants will be eased. However, tension will remain between China and the US there. That is why ASEAN hoped that China and the US would ease tension between them to ensure peace and stability.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-usa-southchinasea-exclusive-idUSKBN161029 and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-asean-philippines-idUSKBN1600I3.
When the US wanted China to respect Hague arbitration ruling to give up China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea, Chinese troops conducted its largest drill there and Chinese navy chief pointed his finger at his US counterpart in his talks with him. Soon afterwards Chinese air force began to conduct combat patrol in the South China Sea especially on the disputed Scarborough Shale.
Now, Reuters says in its report “Trump nominee says China should be denied access to South China sea islands”, “U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state set a course for a potentially serious confrontation with Beijing on Wednesday, saying China should be denied access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.”
What does that mean?
It means the nominee Rex Tillerson wants a real war instead of trade war with China.
The US is preparing for that as it has been sending a squadron of F-35, its most advanced fighter jets, to Japan for the war.
China is not less prepared as it has been stepping up the development, production and deployment its most advanced fighter jet J-20s so that if the US hurts China’s core interests of its rights and interests in the South China Sea, China has to fight. The Chinese ruling party the CCP will become extremely unpopular if it is afraid to fight.
We hope it will be a limited war between the two powers as the US cannot send its army to invade China given China’s huge modern army and US experience of defeat in Korean War. China, on the other hand, is utterly unable to send its army to the US.
China is now able to win the naval war as China’s J-20 is superior to F-35 in a war of defense and China can sink US aircraft carriers with saturate attack of its large number of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles.
What will follow then? Attack China with nuclear weapons in retaliation? That will be the end of human race.
Do Trump and his nominee Rex Tillerson want that?
Let’s hope that Rex Tillerson’s hardline statement is but rhetoric.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:
Trump nominee says China should be denied access to South China sea islands
By David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick | WASHINGTON January 11, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state set a course for a potentially serious confrontation with Beijing on Wednesday, saying China should be denied access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.
In comments expected to enrage Beijing, Rex Tillerson told his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China’s building of islands and putting military assets on those islands was “akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine.
Asked whether he supported a more aggressive posture toward China, he said: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
The former Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) chairman and chief executive did not elaborate on what might be done to deny China access to the islands it has built up from South China Sea reefs, equipped with military-length airstrips and fortified with weapons.
Tillerson also said Washington needed to reaffirm its commitment to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, but stopped short of Trump’s questioning of Washington’s long-standing policy on the issue.
“I don’t know of any plans to alter the ‘one China’ position,” he said.
Tillerson said he considered China’s South China Sea activity “extremely worrisome” and that it would be a threat to the “entire global economy” if Beijing were able to dictate access to the waterway, which is of strategic military importance and a major trade route.
He blamed the current situation on what he termed an inadequate U.S. response. “The failure of a response has allowed them just to keep pushing the envelop on this,” Tillerson said.
“The way we’ve got to deal with this is we’ve got to show back up in the region with our traditional allies in Southeast Asia,” he said.
Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration conducted periodic air and naval patrols to assert the right of free navigation in the South China Sea. These have angered Beijing, but seeking to blockade China’s man-made islands would be a major step further and a step that Washington has never raised as an option.
Tillerson’s words also went beyond Trump’s own tough rhetoric on China.
Obama has sought to forge a united front in Southeast Asia against China’s pursuit of its territorial claims, but some allies and partners who are rival claimants have been reluctant to challenge Beijing.
Tillerson called China’s South China Sea island-building and declaration of an air defense zone in waters of the East China Sea it contests with Japan “illegal actions.”
“They’re taking territory or control, or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s,” he said.
Tillerson also said the United States could not continue to accept “empty promises” China had made about putting pressure on North Korea over that country’s nuclear and missile programs.
He said his approach to dealing with North Korea – which recently declared it is close to carrying out its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile – would be “a long-term plan” based on sanctions and their proper implementation.
Asked if Washington should consider imposing “secondary sanctions” on Chinese entities found to be violating existing sanctions on North Korea, Tillerson said: “If China is not going to comply with those U.N. sanctions, then it’s appropriate … for the United States to consider actions to compel them to comply.”
He accused China of failing to live up to global agreements on trade and intellectual property, echoing past remarks by Trump, who has threatened to impose high, retaliatory tariffs on China. But Tillerson also stressed the “deeply intertwined” nature of the world’s two biggest economies.
“We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership,” he said.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)