On October 28, I had a post titled “China’s Wisdom Tested when the US Likely Falls into Thucydides Trap” on Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper’s October-27 article “Washington Has a Bad Case of China ADHD” that reflects US security experts’ Thucydides Trap mentality. I expressed my hope that Chinese leaders will have the wisdom to avoid the trap.
Two days later on October 30, my post “US, India Join Force to Block China’s Belt and Road Initiative” describes US Secretary State Rex Tillerson in the trap as reflected in his speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” before his visit to India aimed at winning over India as US ally in containing China.
Yesterday, we have Daniel Blumenthal’s article “Trump Needs to Show That He Is Serious About America’s Rivalry With China” on Foreign Policy that further reflects US elite in Thucydides Trap.
Note: The title of the article is America’s rivalry with China instead of vice versa.
South China Sea
China claims the isles, reefs and area within its nine-dash line since long ago and had the line in its map since 1947. The US supported the claim by sending Chinese navy to take back from Japan the isles there with its navy after World War II.
Due to Thucydides Trap Clinton began to challenge China’s claim in 2013 in order to contain China and Obama then began his pivot to Asia as US priority to contain China.
Instigated by the US, the Philippines began Scarborough standoff and ended up in China disallowing Philippine fishermen fishing there.
Then US told the Philippines to file an arbitration and helped it get an arbitration award that entirely denies China’s rights and interests, but China refuses to accept it and US failed to force China to accept it with its two aircraft carrier battle groups.
China decided to fight a war to defend its rights and interests, but the US did not want to fight as it had no rights or interests to defend. It certainly will not fight for others’ rights and interests.
The US ended up in losing its long-term ally the Philippines and its influence in ASEAN and the South China Sea, a total failure in its rivalry with China there.
Since Japanese government bought the Diaoyus (known as Senkaku in Japan), China has sent coast guard ships and aircrafts to patrol and large fishing fleet to the area around the disputed islands. Japan wanted to send navy to drive Chinese vessels away, but that may end up in war so that it needs US help. It was an opportunity for Thucydides Trap to give rise to a war between the US and China.
China was determined to fight. In order to prevent US retaliation with nuclear weapons in case China has sunk a US aircraft carrier (note: China had hundreds of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles able to sink a carrier with saturate attack), China showed its strategic nuclear submarines for three days in a row on CCTV primetime news to tell the US it had second-strike capabilities with not only mobile ICBMs hidden in tunnels but also nuclear submarines.
The US said that it did not want to fight for a few rocks so that it told Japan not to send its navy and China not to fire the first shot. The crisis ended as a result. Still China patrols and fishes in the disputed area so that the islands are now jointly administered by China and Japan.
At that time, perhaps Clinton had but Obama had not yet fallen into Thucydides Trap.
Now, Chinese navy has grown much stronger, fight a war in the East China Sea is out of the question especially because the sea there is too shallow for US submarines to operate.
When Obama began his pivot to Asia, Japan was very happy especially at Obama’s TPP that aimed at containing China.
Now, Trump has scrapped TPP. Japan has no choice but to court China in order to have a larger share in China’s huge market. Japan though a US ally and does want to contain China as it is scared by China’s rise, cannot give the US the help the US needs in containing China as Japan’s economic relations with China are too important for Japan especially as TPP has been scrapped.
China has satisfied Trump’s demands in implementing his sanctions so that Trump cannot make things difficult for China though the writers of the article want him to do so.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson places hope in US relationship with India to contain China, but India has joined Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Indian leader Modi is obviously very wise to obtains from every possible corner including the US. Modi will certainly not give up its interests in other corners such as trade and economic cooperation with China, weapon supply from Russia for improvement of relations with the US.
In fact, what the US can provide India with is but weapons and weapon technology but it is very expensive. If China and Pakistan may improve their relations with India to resolve their long-term disputes and remove India’s long-term enmity, India will willingly become a member of Asia Union. There is real possibility for that as both India and Pakistan have joined Russia and China’s SCO.
What China shall do is to avoid rivalry with the US so that there is no excuse for Americans to fall into Thucydides Trap though US vested interests such as money-thirsty weapon makers want them to fall into.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/11/02/trump-needs-to-show-that-he-is-serious-about-americas-rivalry-with-china/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.
China’s mil.huanqiu.com says in its report “Philippines promotes Philippine-China joint exploitation in the South China Sea: Draft Contract has been submitted to Philippine President” yesterday that Philippines’ ABS-CBN news website says in its report on September 28 that Philippine government is promoting a win-win scheme with other South China Sea claimants to jointly explore oil and gas in disputed waters.
In addition “Philippine Star” reported on the same day that Philippine side’s draft contract on joint exploration of the oil and gas resources in Palawan has been submitted to President Duterte for examination and approval. The exploration will be conducted by a joint venture between China, the Philippines and Malaysia in an area to the northwest of Palawan.
This blogger’s comment:
The disputes among China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei in the South China Sea are mainly over the oil and gas resourced there, the above-mentioned model of win-win cooperation among China, the Philippines and Malaysia will set an example for the peaceful solution of the disputes. As a result, countries outside the region will have no excuse to interfere with the disputes.
That is China’s victory as China has all along advocated putting aside the dispute to jointly exploit the resources. Philippine ex-president Aquino wanted to exploit the resources alone. Instigated by the US, he started and won an arbitration but got nothing as the US does not want to fight a war with China to impose the arbitration award.
Seeing that China is capable of exploiting all the resources while the Philippines can get nothing if it is so greedy as to get the resources alone, Aquino’s successor is wise to cooperate with China and other claimants to exploit the resources jointly.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report, summary translation of which is provided here. Full text of the report in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/world/2017-09/11295927.html.
In SCMP’s article “Willingness to explore resource sharing points to cooperative future for China, the Philippines”, the writer Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based academic and author, says “peaceful dialogue over resource sharing in disputed areas could in itself contribute to improving diplomatic relations among competing neighbours.”
However, he points out the seemingly insurmountable obstacles including Philippine constitution and popular nationalism so that former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo failed in her attempt for such sharing.
Mr. Heydarian fails to see that situation is different now. Before Philippines’ failure to get its ally’s help in countering China in the Scarborough standoff and imposing Hague arbitration award, the Philippines still has the illusion that with the help from China’s rival and its long-term ally the US, it can be benefited from the resources in the disputed waters fully alone.
Now, without Chinese consent, it cannot even exploit the fish resources in the disputed waters claimed by it. It simply cannot exploit the energy resources without cooperation with China, but China has the technology, equipment, funds and military strength to exploit the resources alone without any sharing with other claimants. What if China extracts all the resources alone? No one can help the Philippines to prevent that. Neither the US, ASEAN or the permanent court of arbitration at the Hague can.
Therefore, the Philippines has no alternative but share the resources with China or it will get nothing.
Its current president Duterte is wise to see that, but his people perhaps do not realize that and would rather give China the opportunity to enjoy the resources entirely alone.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2108202/willingness-explore-resource-sharing-points-cooperative.
Manuel Mogato August 15, 2017 / 5:39 PM
MANILA (Reuters) – China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, under a new “status quo” brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defense minister said.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a “commercial deal” with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea with an aim to begin drilling within a year.
The defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing the Philippines and China had reached a “modus vivendi”, or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands.
“The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal,” Lorenzana told lawmakers late on Monday, referring to a prime fishing ground close to the Philippines that China blockaded from 2012 to 2016.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a waterway through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June last year, has courted China and avoided rows over maritime sovereignty that dogged his predecessors, while berating traditional ally the United States over several issues.
China has built seven islands upon reefs in disputed areas, three of which, experts say, are capable of accommodating fighter jets. They have runways, radars and surface-to-air missiles which China says are for defense.
Lorenzana did not comment when lawmakers, citing reports from the military, told him five Chinese ships had showed up almost 5 km off the Philippine-held Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday.
The military’s public affairs chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, declined to comment until the armed forces had the “whole picture on the current situation”.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
‘CONTRARY TO CONSTITUTION’
Cayetano assured lawmakers on Tuesday any energy deal with China would not violate the constitution and would conform to a 60-40 percent revenue sharing, weighted towards the Philippines.
“We can come up with a commercial deal that is better than Malampaya in the disputed areas,” Cayetano said, referring to an existing natural gas project off Palawan island between the government and Chevron, a resource which is due to be depleted by 2024.
“How can any Filipino argue with that? … It cannot violate the constitution.”
But such an arrangement could be complex and sensitive as both countries claim the oil and gas reserves. Sharing them could be construed as legitimizing the other’s claim, or even ceding sovereignty.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim over most of the South China Sea in July last year. China has refused to recognize the ruling, which clarified Philippine sovereign rights to energy reserves within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Philippine energy department last month said it may resume drilling for oil and gas on the Reed Bank, which is within the Philippine EEZ, before the end of the year, offering new blocks to investors in a bidding in December.
The Philippines suspended exploration in the Reed Bank in late 2014 as it pursued the international arbitration.
Minority lawmakers Gary Alejano and Edcel Lagman opposed the plan for an energy deal saying it would be illegal.
“This is contrary to our constitution because these areas should be exclusively for Filipinos,” Lagman said.
Cayetano declined to give details of the talks and requested an executive session of congress to divulge information about the venture with a Chinese energy company, which he did not identify.
Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine oil and gas firm PXP Energy Corp, said this month any joint venture would likely be with “a company like CNOOC”, referring to the China National Offshore Oil Corp
Officials from the foreign and energy ministries have said privately any deal would likely be commercial only and both sides would keep the issue of sovereignty out of the equation to avoid complications.
Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel
Source: Reuters “Philippines says China agrees on no new expansion in South China Sea”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of uninhabited island of Spratlys in the disputed South China Sea, April 21, 2017. Erik De Castro
Manuel Mogato August 8, 2017 / 9:56 PM
MANILA (Reuters) – China pushed for a maritime code of conduct with Southeast Asian countries that would not be legally binding, the Philippine foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Alan Peter Cayetano said some countries wanted the South China Sea code to be legally binding, and China preferred the less forceful “binding”. He said all parties realized it was better to drop all mention of it from the framework and move forward.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China hailed the adoption on Sunday of a negotiating framework for the code of conduct (COC) as progress towards preventing disputes.
Cayetano cited the framework as an example of how parties that were historically at odds were co-operating, but his comments indicate that China had initially set out to create a code that had no legal binds.
“Everyone is more open to negotiations,” Cayetano told a news conference. “At first, words about being non-legally binding, China dropped, just said ‘OK, approve the framework and go to the COC’.”
Critics say Beijing’s end game is to either negotiate what amounts to a gentleman’s agreement, or stall and buy time to expand its defense capability on its manmade islands.
ASEAN has long wanted to sign China up to a set of laws to prevent disputes over energy reserves, fishing, and land reclamation, and avoid military conflicts in the South China Sea, where Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and China have competing claims.
ASEAN and China say the framework is only a guide for how the code will be established, but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make it legally binding and enforceable creates doubts about how effective the pact can be.
Australia, Japan and the United States on Monday urged ASEAN and China to ensure the code is “legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law”.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said it was too soon to discuss components of the code, but whatever is agreed must be stuck to.
“If China is saying now that we’re going for ‘binding’, will we stop talking to them?” Cayetano asked.
“The problem with legally binding is … what are the penalties, what are the mechanisms for adjudication, what tribunal, what court and who will enforce?.
“I think some countries are just being practical.”
How to address Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea has long been ASEAN’s most divisive issue, with China’s influence on the group looming large and complicating efforts to reach consensus decisions.
China is particularly sensitive to even oblique references in ASEAN statements to its artificial islands and rapid development of defense facilities in disputed waters.
Host the Philippines, which is expanding its economic ties with China, made no mention of those in its chairman’s statement on the 27-nation ASEAN Regional Forum issued late on Tuesday.
Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Neil Fullick and Alister Doyle
Source: Reuters “Philippines says China wanted non-legally binding South China Sea code”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
SCMP says in its report “No South China Sea trade-off for economic gains, Philippines says”:
Manila pursues twin track with Beijing, separating maritime disputes from finance and trade ties
Manila is unlikely to compromise on its maritime sovereignty despite Beijing’s chequebook diplomacy and economic inducements, according to the Philippines’ finance chief.
In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Philippine Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez said Manila was trying to protect its interests by separating maritime disputes from its efforts to woo Chinese investment.
Putting aside the dispute and conducting win-win cooperation in resource exploitation is precisely what China wants so that what Manila has been doing precisely plays into China’s hands.
SCMP says that other claimants especially Vietnam is unhappy, but what can they do?
With China’s strong military and artificial islands and the US unwilling to fight China for other claimants’ interests the South China Sea is already China’ lake. Other claimants can do nothing even if China wants to have all the resources there alone. They must regard themselves as lucky that China is willing to share as China has a tradition of being friendly to its neighbors.
Be realistic to cooperate with China. There is no other ways out for other claimants as the US is unwilling and unable to fight for them.
If China has grown even stronger and the US continues its decline, they may even lose the chance to have a share of the resources in the South China Sea. No one can ensure that China’s future leaders will continue Chinese current leaders’ policy of détente.
What if Chinese military drives away all other claimants from the islands and reefs claimed by China as its territories but occupied by others? What if China conducts resource exploitation alone with the technology and equipment other claimants cannot afford and with the protection of Chinese navy and air force?
Think about that.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2105582/no-south-china-sea-trade-economic-gains-philippines.
Philippine President Duterte is wise to accept China’s offer to conduct win-win cooperation in exploiting the rich energy resources in disputed waters.
His predecessor former President Aquino tried to get the resources alone not only he energy but also the fishing resources. He sent Philippine navy to round up Chinese fishing boats in order to prohibit Chinese fishing in the disputed Scarborough Shoal and thus gave rise to a standoff with China.
Aquino thought that Philippines’ ally the US would have sent its powerful navy to drive away Chinese warships since what he did was helping the US contain China, which was precisely the aim of US President Obama’s pivot to Asia. Unfortunately for him, the US would fight for the Philippines. Instead, it told Aquino to withdraw and seek remedy from an arbitration.
Aquino did get a favorable arbitration award that completely deny China’s historical sovereignty and rights and uphold Philippines rights to the area it claims as its special economic zonearea. However the arbitration court is not a UN agency. It award has no binding force unlike the verdict of the International Court, a UN agency.
Moreover, even if Aquino had got a favorable verdict from the International Court, he could have sought remedy at the UN Security Council. However, as China has veto power there, Aquino could not have got anything even if he had been able to obtain such a verdict.
Aquino’s successor President Duterte was soon able to make a clear analysis of the situation. Since China will fight to protect its sovereignty and rights to the disputed waters and the US is unwilling to fight to help the Philippines impose the arbitration award, the only way out for the Philippines is to recover Aquino’s predecessors’ friendship with China and begin cooperation with China in exploiting the resources in the disputed waters.
China is growing increasingly strong while the US is declining. If China has overwhelming superiority to the US and a future Chinese leader refuses to share the natural resources with the Philippines, the Philippines will get nothing.
After all China has the technology and equipment to exploit the energy resources there while the Philippines has none. It has to draw in a foreign partner to exploit the resources but who would like to take the risk to upset China when China has become that extremely strong?
SCMP’s report “Beijing defends East China Sea activities after Japan protests” yesterday proves Duterte’s wisdom.
SCMP says that China is busy conducting exploration of energy resources in the area that claimed by both China and Japan. Japan protests but China simply ignore the protest and insists that the area is indisputably under China’s jurisdiction.
What can Japan do? Nothing except protesting. The US is Japan’s ally with relations much closer than with the Philippines would not send its navy to help Japan in its confrontation with China. Therefore, if Japan is not willing to conduct win-win cooperation with China in exploiting the resources, it can only watch helplessly till China has exploited all the energy resources there.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2105153/beijing-defends-east-china-sea-activities-after-japan.