In spite of some hardline stance by US Congress and military, the US is no longer able to affect the affairs in the South China Sea except making some noise that is disregarded by the parties concerned, ASEAN and China as they have been making progress in concluding their code of conduct in disregard of US stance or opinions. As a result, Reuters shows in its report today titled “Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding” how desperate US and its allies Australia and Japan are. They issued a joint statement on what they want to be included in the code but the statement was denounced by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and ignored by ASEAN.
Reuters says that Wang described the “sharp contrast” in perceptions this year between regional and non-regional countries as reflected by the statement by Japan, the United States and Australia.
It quotes Wang as saying that Coastal countries had “fully recognized the progress we have made through concerted efforts from all parties. On the other hand, some non-regional countries remain in the past … They are not recognizing the positive changes occurring in the South China Sea. Is it that some countries do not want to see greater stability in the South China Sea?”
For a time, the US tried to act as a world police to enforce the law of the sea not binding on it as it is not a signatory. It sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to scare China in vain. Now, what it can do is but to make some noise.
The photo on top shows how unhappy US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was at the affairs in the South China Sea. Tillerson once said that the US shall block China’s access to its artificial islands but later realized that the US simply lacks the capabilities to do so.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, which is reblogged below:
Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding
Manuel Mogato and Christian Shepherd August 7, 2017 / 4:29 PM
MANILA (Reuters) – Australia, Japan and the United States on Monday urged Southeast Asia and China to ensure that a South China Sea code of conduct they have committed to draw up will be legally binding and said they strongly opposed “coercive unilateral actions”.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China should establish a set of rules that were “legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law”, the foreign ministers of the three countries said in a statement following a meeting in Manila.
Foreign ministers of ASEAN and China on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.
Australia, Japan and the United States also “voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions”.
They urged claimants to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts and militarization of disputed features, a veiled reference to China’s expansion of its defense capability on Mischief, Fiery Cross and Subi reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
The three countries are not claimants but have long been vocal on the issue, arguing their interest is in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.
They urged China and the Philippines to abide by last year’s international arbitration ruling, which invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have competing claims there.
The code framework is an outline for what China and ASEAN call “consultations” on a formal agreement, which could start later this year.
Several ASEAN countries want the code to be legally binding, enforceable and have a dispute resolution mechanism. But experts say China will not allow that and ASEAN may end up acquiescing to what amounts to a gentlemen’s agreement.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a “sharp contrast” in perceptions this year between regional and non-regional countries, and the statement by Japan, the United States and Australia showed that.
Coastal countries had “fully recognized the progress we have made through concerted efforts from all parties”, he said.
“On the other hand, some non-regional countries remain in the past … They are not recognizing the positive changes occurring in the South China Sea.
“Is it that some countries do not want to see greater stability in the South China Sea?” he asked.
Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, said on Sunday it was premature to conclude the outcome of the negotiations, but added: “Surely when we move into the COC, it has got to have some additional or significant legal effect.”
Jay Batongbacal, an expert on the South China Sea at the University of the Philippines, told news channel ANC the adoption of the framework gave China “the absolute upper hand” in terms of strategy, because it will be able to decide when the negotiating process can start.
China also called out “some countries” who voiced concern over island reclamation in the South China Sea in the joint communique issued by ASEAN members on Sunday.
“In reality it was only one or two country’s foreign ministers who expressed concerns of this kind,” Wang told reporters.
Wang said that China had not carried out reclamation for two years. “At this time, if you ask who is carrying out reclamation, it is definitely not China – perhaps it is the country that brings up the issue that is doing it,” he added.
Several ASEAN diplomats told Reuters that Vietnam was one country that had pushed for stronger wording in the statement. Satellite images have shown that Vietnam has carried out reclamation work in two sites in the disputed seas in recent years.
Additional reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie and Pritha Sarkar
Reuters says in its report “India won’t include Australia in naval drills, fears China backlash”:
Australia formally wrote to the Indian defense ministry in January asking if it could send naval ships to join the July wargames as an observer, in what military experts saw as a step toward eventual full participation.
Four officials from India, Australia and Japan told Reuters India blocked the proposal and suggested that Canberra send officers to watch the exercises in the Bay of Bengal from the decks of the three participating countries’ warships, instead.
True, India worries that it may be encircled by China, Pakistan as well as Central Asia due to China’s growing influence in Central Asia and close ties with Russia, but it has joined China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization for win-win cooperation with China and Pakistan instead of provoking China.
Media exaggerate the recent border standoff between China and India as they need sensational news.
The border incident is in fact very small encounter that will never trigger a war as proved by decades of peace in spite of frequent encounters of such scale.
Anxious to encircle China, the US certainly is trying hard to attract India, but it lacks financial resources. Trump’s policies to bring jobs back to America will first of all deprive Indian elite the well-paid job opportunities in the US.
In addition, US trade policies are increasingly unfavourable to India’s export to the US.
Certainly, encircled by China and Pakistan, India wants US advanced weapons, but US weapons are too expensive. Is the US able to subsidize its weapon export to India to make India afford import of expensive US weapons?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-navy-exercises-idUSKBN18Q1VD
Is that a joke that the US abandons TPP on its own and willingly cedes leadership of TPP to China instead of containing China by excluding it from TPP?
Reuters says in its report “After U.S. exit, Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal” today, “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it (TPP) as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member.”
Now, according to Reuters, “Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept a promise to abandon the accord.” No wonder, without Chinese leadership, there are no hopes for such salvage.
Abe is shrewder than leaders of other TPP potential members. As soon as he learnt personally from Trump that Trump would withdraw from TPP, he began to curry favor with Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked him to send Premier Li Keqiang to attend the trilateral talks in Japan to facilitate the establishment of ASEAN plus 3 (Japan, China and South Korea) free trade area.
By scrapping TTP, Trump has given up US economic leadership in Asia Pacific. China, though does not pursue such leadership, willingly accept the gift Trump gives China free of charge.
Trump believes that world economic leadership, especially in Asia through TPP, does not benefit the US as the US has lost lots of jobs to Asian countries. He regards China as the top culprit, but China does not steal jobs from the US. Most goods China exports to the US are made by cheap labor, whose jobs cannot be taken back to the US as no American people are willing to take such low-wage jobs.
Taking jobs from Japan and South Korea is much more practical as wages in Japan and South Korea are comparable to Americans’ and American managers and workers are well capable of doing such jobs.
Japan and South Korea are now major exporters of goods that need the technology China lacks to produce. The US is in good position to take those jobs from Japan and South Korea for export to China as the US has even better technology.
Moreover, Trump will encourage US enterprises to create jobs in the US with tax incentives and simplification of regulations. Japanese, South Korean and other Asian-Pacific countries will have great difficulties to compete with US enterprises in US market. Their exports to the US will suffer greatly.
The US will become increasingly unpopular in those countries. As a result, the US will lose not only its economic leadership but also its military and cultural leadership.
South Korea has already had free trade area with China and is not much interested in TPP while Japan has placed great hope on TPP for revival of its economy.
With the developments described above, Japan has to place great hope on Chinese market. With Japan taking the lead, all other potential TPP members will regard China as their economic leader and China may even become their military and cultural leader when the US has lost its leadership while China has grown even stronger and richer.
Chinese leadership is especially welcome in poor Asian countries as the transfer of Chinese labor-intensive industries will create lots of jobs there; therefore, both the leader China and those Asian countries lead by China will be benefited by China’s leadership.
Interesting, the US wants to take away while China wants to give jobs. Who will be more popular? The answer is obvious.
Trump’s America first means for Asian-Pacific countries that the US gives up its leadership there and in addition takes away jobs and market share from them, a zero-sum consequence.
China’s China first, however, means China assuming leadership there that benefits both China and those countries, a win-win consequence.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:
After U.S. exit, Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal
By Charlotte Greenfield and Stanley White | WELLINGTON/TOKYO Tue Jan 24, 2017 | 6:36am EST
Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept a promise to abandon the accord.
The TPP, which the United States had signed but not ratified, was a pillar of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy to pivot to Asia.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member.
Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office on Monday pulling the United States out of the 2015 TPP agreement and distancing the United States from its Asian allies.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had held discussions with Abe, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong overnight about the possibility of proceeding without the United States.
“Losing the United States from the TPP is a big loss, there is no question about that,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. “But we are not about to walk away … certainly there is potential for China to join the TPP.”
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not say directly whether China would be interested in joining the TPP but that at a time of economic uncertainly the Asia-Pacific should make its own contributions to growth with openness.
“We think that in the present situation, no matter what happens, all should keep going down the path of open, inclusive, continuous development, seeking cooperation and win-win,” Hua told a daily news briefing.
Obama had framed the TPP without China in an effort to write Asia’s trade rules before Beijing could, establishing U.S. economic leadership in the region as part of his “pivot to Asia”.
China has proposed a counter pact, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and has championed the Southeast Asian-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Hua said efforts on FTAAP should be stepped up, adding China hoped talks on RCEP could be concluded at an early date.
New Zealand’s English said the United States was ceding influence to China and the region’s focus could switch to alternative trade deals.
“We’ve got this RCEP agreement with Southeast Asia, which up until now has been on a bit of a slow burn, but we might find the political will for that to pick up if TPP isn’t going to proceed,” English said.
Malaysia’s trade minister said negotiators from the remaining TPP countries would be in “constant communication” to decide the best way forward.
“Notwithstanding the current position of the new U.S. administration on (TPP), we will continue to engage with our American colleagues to strengthen our bilateral trade and economic relations, given the U.S.’s importance as our third-largest trading partner and a major source of investment,” Mustapa Mohamed said in a statement.
The TTP, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.
Australia held open the possibility of China, the world’s top exporter, joining a revised deal.
“The original architecture was to enable other countries to join,” Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday.
“Certainly I know that Indonesia has expressed interest and there would be scope for China if we are able to reformulate it.”
Japan has led the push for the partnership, which includes Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.
“There is no change to our view that free trade is the source of economic growth,” Japanese Economy Minister Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters.
When asked whether Japan would be open to negotiating a bilateral trade pact with the United States, Ishihara said it was uncertain whether U.S. trade officials would start such negotiations.
Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said separately that Japan was not considering moves with other TPP members based on a lack of U.S. involvement.
“As Prime Minister Abe has made clear, TPP without the United States is meaningless and the balance of interests would crumble,” he told a news conference, adding Japan would keep explaining the benefits of the pact for America.
Abe had made TPP a core of his economic growth policies and along with the Obama administration, viewed it as strategically vital in the face of a rising China
Trump took office on Friday and pledged to end what he called an “American carnage” of rusted factories and crime. He vowed to bring jobs back by renegotiating what he called bad multilateral trade deals in favor of bilateral ones.
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said he had talked with a number of TPP-member ministers at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week and he expected they would meet in coming months.
“The agreement still has value as a FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the other countries involved,” McClay said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey in SYDNEY, Ami Miyazaki and Linda Sieg in TOKYO, Liz Lee in KUALA LUMPUR and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel)
By LISA PRYORDEC. 16, 2016
SYDNEY, Australia — On the other side of the world from you, we are living in two time zones. One regulated by the rise and fall of the sun, the other regulated by the American news cycle. In our early afternoon you go to bed, in our late evening you wake again and news breaks afresh. We examine the entrails of the tweets of your president-elect for news of our common future.
In Australia, and around the world, we have been living this presidential transition with you. We watched the debates on our lunch breaks, we scrolled through news on our phones as the voting results were announced, in the warm light of a spring day.
Since the election I have cried many times, in the shower, in the car, as the conventions that define liberal Western democracy are stripped away by Donald J. Trump, with every distressful appointment, each impulsive outburst. I have embarrassment of grief for a government that is not mine and for a country that does not belong to me. It feels as if we’re mourning the death of an idea called America.
You may not know us, the people beyond your borders, but we know you. We absorbed your politics by osmosis, across the semipermeable membrane of celluloid. We know about Air Force One from “Air Force One” and the West Wing from “The West Wing.”
When I think of the political texts I know by heart, snippets of yours spring to mind — “ask not what your country can do for you”; “I have a dream”; “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” As a child I knew the Gettysburg Address and the Pledge of Allegiance, not because it was taught in class but because we heard them so many times in movies like “Kindergarten Cop.” America gave us a poetry of democracy that was grand and uplifting, which we were too reserved and sarcastic to speak for ourselves.
Visiting America itself gave us the sensation of having stepped into the television, into something bigger and better. For a time when I was a teenager my father worked in the coal industry in West Virginia. He would return with stories about new things we could not imagine, like cable television with 50 stations. Packed in his suitcase were running shoes for us, in styles that had not arrived here yet. That was more than 20 years ago.
Things were changing long before this election. Trips to Asia are now more likely to startle us with modernity. Bangkok, Singapore, even Mumbai have shocked me on visits over the last few decades, not just the wealth and development but also the music and fashion and public transportation.
For all the intractable problems in our region, there is a sense of forward movement. When we visit America now, it feels like the opposite, like decay. Roads, airports, an economy, perhaps even a society, falling to pieces. We are left in awe by the extreme poverty as well as the extreme wealth. And maybe it is because of your poetry about yourself that the turning current has been harder for Americans themselves to see.
The election of Mr. Trump feels like a sudden plunge after a gradual decline. Already he is goading China, befriending President Vladimir V. Putin, disregarding climate change and refusing daily intelligence briefings because he’s “a smart person.” None of this, we fear, will end well for any of us.
And here we Australians are on the edge of Asia, a small and loyal ally of the United States, with a significant and growing Asian-born population, caught between our strategic alliance with you and our economic future with China. Britain is tangled in Brexit, with neither the time nor the inclination to focus on a former colony on the other side of the world. We feel worried, lucky — and alone.
Earlier this year, Australia’s Department of Defense outlined the long-term outlook for our defense and security, emphasizing that the relationship between the United States and China will continue to be the most strategically important factor in the region. “The governments of both countries have publicly committed to a constructive relationship and it is not in the interests of either country to see an unstable international environment in which the free and open movement of trade and investment is compromised,” the department noted. That constructive relationship must now be spoken about in the past tense.
And no longer can it be assumed that Australia will always pick the United States over China, if forced to choose. When the Lowy Institute for International Policy surveyed Australians two years ago about whether the United States or China was the more important partner for our country, the United States led by 11 percentage points. This year there was a tie. The drift was more marked among Australians under 45, most of whom named China. Nearly half of the Australians surveyed said we should distance ourselves from a United States led by a president like Mr. Trump.
This distancing is already being discussed. While Australia’s right-wing politicians have taken the most literal and disheartening lesson from the election — Mr. Trump won, so be like Mr. Trump — a former prime minister of our country, Paul Keating, questioned Australia’s deference to the United States.
“This society of ours is a better society than the United States,” he said. “It’s more even, it’s more fair. We’ve had a 50 percent increase in real incomes in the last 20 years. Median America has had zero, zero.” He added, “We have universal health protection, from the cradle to the grave.”
For Australia to await a signal from the United States before thinking for itself “is a complete denial of everything we have created here,” he concluded.
This is a way of moving forward, in our own direction and with our own voice. Perhaps we could even offer you a different model of democracy, the way you once offered one to us.
Whatever happens, it will not dull my affection for the American people and the best of American culture. I was not raised in America, but I was raised in the American century. I am not yet ready to say goodbye.
Source: New York Times “Dear America, Why Did You Let Us Down?”
Note: This is New York Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
By Mitra Taj and Jeff Mason | LIMA Mon Nov 21, 2016 | 10:08am EST
Pacific Rim leaders vowed on Sunday to fight protectionism and Chinese officials said more countries are looking to join a China-led trading bloc after Donald Trump’s election victory raised fears the United States would scrap free trade deals.
Trump campaigned for U.S. president on a promise to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and also threatened to impose steep tariffs against China and Mexico.
Regional leaders responded on Sunday, saying they would push ahead with the TPP.
“We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism,” they said at a summit meeting of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group in Peru.
On his last foreign trip before he leaves the White House in January, President Barack Obama said abandoning TPP would be a mistake for the United States.
“I think not moving forward would undermine our position across the region and our ability to shape the rules of global trade in a way that reflects our values and our interests,” Obama told a news conference at the end of the summit.
Obama negotiated the TPP but has stopped seeking its congressional approval and says its ratification is now up to the incoming Trump administration.
China is not part of the TPP and has been pushing an alternative vision of free trade in Asia under the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which does not currently include countries in the Americas.
Tan Jian, a senior member of China’s delegation at the summit, said more countries are now seeking to join its 16-member bloc, including Peru and Chile, and that current members want to reach a deal as soon as possible to counter rising protectionism.
In a final declaration, APEC leaders said the TPP and RCEP were both valid paths to a broader Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which has long been a goal of the APEC bloc that accounts for 57 percent of the world economy.
“We encourage that all regional undertakings, including TPP and RCEP, remain open, transparent and inclusive and draw on each other,” they said.
Some APEC leaders in Lima have suggested the TPP could continue without the United States, but others said that would require a complete renegotiation.
Another way forward might be to make some cosmetic changes that would allow Trump to change his mind on the TPP without losing face, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key suggested.
Obama said he was already hearing calls for a “less ambitious” free trade agreement with fewer protections for workers and environmental standards, a likely reference to the China-led RCEP.
“That kind of agreement would obviously exclude U.S. workers and businesses and access to those markets,” he said.
China’s delegation warned against the “politicization” of trade agreements and said they should not just be for rich economies.
“If you have such high standards, then developing economies will have difficulty with trade,” Jian told Reuters. A “low threshold for developing economies … that is also important.”
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who hosted the summit, said it was too early to write off the TPP and that Trump’s support was due more to “difficult economic conditions” than to fierce protectionist sentiment.
Canada, a member of TPP but not RCEP, is keeping its options open on future trade deals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Australia, similarly, said it was pursuing various opportunities, including RCEP.
“Well as I’ve indicated previously, Australia doesn’t have all its eggs in one basket,” Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told reporters. “It’s not a case of the TPP is all that there is for Australia.”
(Reporting by Rosalba O’Brien, Mitra Taj, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Jeff Mason, and Caroline Stauffer; Additional reporting by Jane Wardell in Sydney; Editing by Mary Milliken and Kieran Murray)
Source: Reuters “APEC leaders vow to fight protectionism, look to China on trade”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Unlike US alliance with Japan, Australia or the Philippines, there is no treaty of alliance between China and Russia, but the alliance is much stronger that US alliance with its allies.
US has treaty obligations to fight for Japan, Australia and the Philippines but not willingly unless its interests are being hurt; therefore, it does not send its navy to help the Philippines counter Chinese navy in the Scarborough standoff. It just uses the excuse of taking no side in the disputes.
However, the most sad things for the US are that if the US fights a war with either China or Russia, its ally Japan, Australia and the Philippines will provide it with no substantial help as they are neither willing nor able to do so.
China and Russia, however, have no treaty obligations to help each other in a war between the US and either of them, but they will do their best to help each other even join each other to fight the US. If they join force, it is hard for the US to defeat them.
They will do that out of necessity as the US is now doing its best to contain both of them so that they have alliance with each other to resist US containment. If one of them has been subdued by the US, the other will be isolated and easily subdued by the US.
An alliance out of necessity is much stronger than a treaty alliance!
Article by Chan Kai Yee
The National Interest article with the above title is right in foreseeing that China will not back down but its is wrong in regarding it as an issue of reputation.
No, it is an issue of humiliation, an issue of national dignity. China suffered humiliation by foreign powers for a century. Now, China is much stronger. Can it suffer humiliation again by the United States, Japan and Australia that are trying to urge it to respect a stupid arbitration ruling and give up its historical sovereignty, rights and interests to the South China Sea?
China has conducted an arms race with the US since US commencement to interfere with its disputes with other claimants in the South China Sea. It has developed sufficient rocket, air and naval forces to defeat the US in the area near it as it has geographical advantages there. However, US navy dominates the oceans and can easily cut China’s trade lifelines. That will be the major risk in fighting a war with the US.
However, when a nation is humiliated, it will fight even if it knows well it cannot win.
The article is entirely wrong in its speculation about China’s response as it regards it as an issue of reputation.
If it had been an issue of reputation, China would not have responded so strongly.
China is now carrying out regular combat patrol of the South China Sea with its air force. Its warplanes are fully armed to deal with any provocation!
Not only China, Taiwan has sent its warship to the area around its Taiping Island to protect its rights and interests within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone that the arbitration ruling has denied.
Respect the ruling and give up a country’s sovereignty, rights and interests? Even a small and weak region that needs US protection like Taiwan cannot stand such humiliation, let alone China the largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power and second largest in terms of GDP.
It was not an issue of hegemony as mentioned in the article as China has tried hard to resolve the disputes peacefully through bilateral negotiations for a long time.
Now, a country has used an arbitration ruling that the United Nations does not want to have anything to do with to entirely deprive China’s sovereignty, rights and interests to the South China Sea. The US, Japan and Australia are so stupid as to believe that it is an issue of reputation so that they are able to urge China to accept the humiliation.
As a result, they have forced China to act like a hegemon in the South China Sea: Regular air force combat patrol to safeguard its sovereignty, rights and interests.
What China will do? It certainly does not want to fight a war with the US as the US will not fight for other countries’ interests in the South China Sea. It will try hard to ease tension and maintain good relations with the US, but it will never back down in the South China Sea.
It will conduct peaceful negotiations to solve the disputes with other claimants, but if other claimants act unreasonably and try to urge China to respect the arbitration ruling, China will simply exploit the fishing, energy and other resources alone like a hegemon there.
What can the US do? It will conduct freedom of navigation operations. Okay, China can allow such operations as long as they do not interfere with China’s exploitation of resources, which the US has no right to interfere as it utterly has no interest in the resources.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article, full text of which can be viewed below:
China Won’t Back Down in the South China Sea
The findings of the South China Sea Arbitration conducted at The Hague refutes China claim of indisputable sovereignty, and invalidates the ‘nine-dash line’ as a mechanism to delineate that claim—a heavy defeat for China. As expected, China has rejected the ruling. So what’s Beijing’s next likely move?
This dispute is one aspect of a broader Chinese ambition towards rejuvenation under a China Dream and restoration to ‘middle kingdom’ status that would see its neighbors in Southeast Asia relegated to tributary powers. That new Chinese hegemony would challenge US strategic primacy in Asia. The crisis feeds into a Chinese narrative of a ‘Century of Humiliation’ promoted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to sustain its political legitimacy. So suddenly backing down on a critical Chinese interest would be an intolerable blow to CCP legitimacy, and in particular the reputation of Xi Jinping.
China will use soft power and diplomacy to counter global responses against Beijing’s repudiation of a rules-based international order, but its steady challenge to that order won’t waver, and Beijing won’t back down in the South China Sea.
From a military perspective, Chinese control of the South China Sea allows the extension of a PLA anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) ‘bubble’ (here, here, and here) further to the south and east. That allows the PLA to fully employ more advanced submarine and naval surface combatants, longer-ranged strike warfare, and more sophisticated air power to delay or deter US military intervention in any future regional crisis, such as over Taiwan, and support People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) power projection into the Indian Ocean. The South China Sea is also a bastion for China’s Jin class SSBNs and the follow-on Type 096 Tang class SSBNs, particularly in the in the China Sea Basin south of China’s main SSBN base at Hainan Island, which has a maximum depth of 6,000 metres.
Beijing has already made it extremely difficult for ASEAN to reach a unified position on the rival claims to the South China Sea and is sure to continue to coerce the organisation, particularly at the ASEAN Foreign Minister’s meeting in Laos from the 21–26 July. It’ll try to do a deal with unpredictable Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, who has suggested bilateral negotiations with Beijing. It may walk away from long-running negotiations over a multilateral ‘Code of Conduct’. It’ll continue to use both diplomatic pressure and bilateral economic inducements to buy off individual states.
China may also choose to go hard and press claims through military power. That would allow Beijing to demonstrate to the US, Japan and the region—as well as its domestic population—that it won’t be cowed. China has employed ‘grey zone’ actions that keep the use of coercive power below a level that would generate a retaliatory response from the US. Were China to shift above that level, the potential for miscalculation on either side could generate a rapid escalation of events, leading to a military conflict that China simply couldn’t afford to lose, but ultimately may not have the means to win.
There are some clear military steps (and here) that China could contemplate. It has already militarized disputed islands in the Paracels, so extending this to the Spratly Islands is a logical next step. That could include deploying combat aircraft, ground-based missile systems for air defense and anti-surface warfare, and naval forces to artificially created structures on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef, and Cuarteron Reef. China may contemplate fortifying Scarborough Shoal—a mere 150nm from Manila—or seizing Second Thomas Shoal and ejecting Philippines Marine forces there. Beijing could declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over parts or all of the South China Sea—and rigorously enforce such an ADIZ using air capabilities deployed forward to artificial structures in the Spratly Islands. Finally, China could use its Coast Guard and ‘strategic fishing fleets’ even more assertively to challenge the interests of other claimants, and allow these ‘white hulls’ and ‘little blue men’ (and here) to be supported more directly by PLAN ‘grey hulls’ in a manner that forces China’s opponents to back down.
The Arbitral Tribunal ruling has thrown down a gauntlet to Beijing that it must respond to. At the moment, a strong US naval force in the South China Sea centered on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, constrains China’s freedom to act. Absent that forward US military presence, China could calculate a window of opportunity exists in the last months of an Obama Administration, which prefers leading from behind. That could prompt it to act while the US is distracted with a presidential election and seek to present a fait accompli to an incoming administration. Importantly, China probably calculates a tougher ride with a President Clinton, and an entirely unpredictable situation with a President Trump. So from Beijing’s vantage point it may be better to act now rather than risk being deterred in the near future.
Certainly military options carry the risk of miscalculation and escalation, and weaken China’s claim to a peaceful rise, but this cost must be balanced against risk in not acting. Failure to act decisively by Beijing could reinforce a domestic perception of a regime ‘all at sea’ with no clear idea how to proceed further, which would then have implications for regime legitimacy and domestic stability. Already Chinese censors are trying to keep a lid on nationalist anger. Fear of domestic unrest may prompt the Central Military Commission in Beijing to consider the military options more closely.