World Affairs Brief, May 22, 2015 Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World.
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com).
US FAILS TO TRULY CONFRONT CHINA THREAT
Newly released satellite images show a dramatic expansion in China’s construction of artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands, a series of South China Sea reefs. While China’s aggressiveness in taking territory all around the South China Sea is the main worry, half a dozen countries are also vying for rights in the area. Here’s what Wikipedia says about this:
The Spratly Islands dispute is an ongoing territorial dispute between Brunei, China (People’s Republic of China), Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan (Republic of China), and Vietnam, concerning ownership of the Spratly Islands, a group of islands and associated “maritime features” (reefs, banks, cays, etc.) located in the South China Sea. The dispute is characterized by diplomatic stalemate and the employment of low-level [thus far] military pressure techniques (such as military occupation of disputed territory) in the advancement of national territorial claims. All except Brunei occupy some of the maritime features.
The Spratly Islands are important for economic and strategic reasons. The Spratly area holds potentially significant, but largely unexplored, reserves of oil and natural gas; it is a productive area for world fishing; it is one of the busiest areas of commercial shipping traffic; and surrounding countries would get an extended continental shelf if their claims were recognized. In addition to economic incentives, the Spratlys sit astride major maritime trade routes to Northeast Asia, giving them added significance as positions from which to monitor maritime activity in the South China Sea and to potentially base and project military force from.
In 2014, China drew increased international attention due to its dredging activities within the Spratlys, amidst speculation it is planning to further develop its military presence in the area. In April 2015 satellite imagery revealed that China was rapidly constructing an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef within the Spratlys. Only China (PRC), Taiwan (ROC), and Vietnam have made claims based on historical sovereignty of the islands. The Philippines, however, claims part of the area as its territory under UNCLOS, an agreement parts of which have been ratified by the countries involved in the Spratly islands dispute.
See this map for color coding of which nations are occupying which islands. You can see that this is a royal diplomatic mess that is never going to be resolved peacefully—especially with China, the 800 lb gorilla in the room, claiming outright and exclusive sovereignty. This is China’s official response:
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands [Chinese name for Spratly Ils] and adjacent waters. The Chinese government has been carrying out construction and maintenance work on some of the Nansha Islands reefs, mainly in order to improve the living and working conditions of personnel stationed there, to improve relevant functions the islands and reefs provide, to better safeguard national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, to better meet China’s international responsibilities and obligations in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, weather observation, environmental protection, navigation safety, fishery production services and other areas. Such construction is within China’s sovereignty and is fair, reasonable and lawful, and does not affect or target any country, and is thus beyond reproach.
After the construction, the islands and reefs will be able to provide comprehensive services to meet various civilian demands in addition to satisfying necessary military defense requirements.
The UK Guardian has a dramatic picture of just how advanced construction is on this “reef” It is noteworthy that China has not made any threats so far about driving other nations out of these islands. That will come after it establishes a military presence there. So far all the other nations can do is protest loudly and wring their hands. They look in vain for the US to stop the Chinese intrusions.
The runway and related facilities on the Nansha Island is part of establishing a “string of pearls” series of outposts China is building with air and naval port facilities, much like Japan did prior to WWII. The Pacific ocean area is huge and you can’t control it or the islands without bases far from the Chinese mainland.
That is why it is important for the US to intervene in Chinese expansion while it is still developing. If it waits until China has a full set of extended sea bases it will be impossible to confront her aggression later on.
Malaysia is one of the few nations taking military action against commercial fishing boats that have worked Malaysian water without permission. Over the past few years she has rounded up about 40 vessels and brought them to port. The crews were released, but Malaysia just blew up or burned all of the vessels this week according to the AP:
Indonesian authorities blew up and sank 41 foreign fishing vessels Wednesday as a warning against poaching in the country’s waters. The vessels from a variety of countries were blown up in several ports across the archipelago, which has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds.
The initial headlines sounded like all this was done in a military naval confrontation but it was not. Compare this to the United States claims that it is actively confronting China in the Spratlys. When you see the fine print it’s only naval and air patrols that are just observing.
In order to fool the American people into thinking the US is taking action to counter China, the Pentagon allowed CNN reporters to go aboard a navy P8-A Poseidon, America’s most advanced surveillance and submarine-hunting aircraft, knowing that China would, as usual, make threatening radio calls to the plane. This happens on all US surveillance flights, but CNN made it out like this was something new. They wrote,
Wednesday’s mission was specifically aimed at monitoring Chinese activities on three islands that months ago were reefs barely peaking above the waves. Now they are massive construction projects that the U.S. fears will soon be fully functioning military installations.
The Chinese navy issued warnings eight times as a U.S. surveillance plane on Wednesday swooped over islands that Beijing is using to extend its zone of influence. The series of man-made islands and the massive Chinese military build-up on them have alarmed the Pentagon, which is carrying out the surveillance flights in order to make clear the U.S. does not recognize China’s territorial claims. The militarized islands have also alarmed America’s regional allies.
Well, if they don’t recognize China’s claims, then why are our naval patrol craft restricting themselves to the 12 mile limit around the Chinese construction sites on the islands? Last week I pointed out in the WAB that a senior US official said “We’re just not going within the 12 miles — yet,” a tacit international recognition of a 12 mile limit around any nation’s sovereign territory.
Why would they recognize any such limit unless they were trying to placate China’s intent to take over the Spratly Islands—where they are building a new airfield for future military purposes? Watch how the US will continue to bluster and caution even as China puts down concrete and buildings on the ground. They will never do anything to interdict this military growth until it’s already operational and too late to stop short of going to war! CNN also said,
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CNN’s Erin Burnett Wednesday night that the confrontation indicates there is “absolutely” a risk of the U.S. and China going to war sometime in the future.
The top US military brass may well be yes-men to the globalist civilian leaders above them, but they certainly know where all this permissiveness is headed—eventual war. That is exactly why China is building not only more ICBMs and hiding them in underground tunnels, but building a modern blue-water navy capable of roaming the entire Pacific. This looks much like Japan as it was preparing for WWII against the US. Defense Tech estimates that the Chinese Navy will out build the US and exceed it in number of ships by 2020.
China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 [US combat ships are less than 300] as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets…
The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress the U.S. Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy they U.S. military has already started. [Actually, it’s mostly talk. The US doesn’t have the naval forces to cover both the Middle East and the Pacific.] The commission asked Congress to increase its Pacific fleet up to 67 ships and rebalance homeports such that 60-percent of the force is based in the region by 2020.
Defense analysts have questioned where the U.S. Navy has the resources and funding to expand its presence in the Pacific adequately enough to meet the emerging Chinese threat. Critics point to the sweeping sequestration cuts as an example of the budgetary challenges that U.S. Navy officials face.
In other news, there is a good possibility the Mistral helicopter carriers that France was building for Russia (and halted due to sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) may end up going to China—if France pays Russia about $700 million for breaking the contract. But as Sputnik News reported, Russia really didn’t need the ships, which they can build. They were paying for the weapons technology, which France already provided them in data form free of charge:
Commenting on the ongoing tussle over the Mistral deal, Russian businessman and journalist Dmitri Lekuh argued that Russia needed the technology the ships contained, not the ships themselves, adding that France’s refusal to deliver the ships has served only to humiliate their own shipbuilding industry.
In his Sunday blog post for the Russian informational portal Odnako, Lekuh commented that “It has never been a secret to anyone that Russia was never particularly interested in large floating hunks of metal. That is not to say that they were completely unnecessary. A good homeowner will find a place for any piece of iron, as the saying goes.”
According to Lekuh, what Russia really needed from the Mistral deal was the technology. This included the SENIT-9 combat information system, “military navigation systems and group battle management systems. We needed modern large vessel assembly technology, which we had earlier lost as a result of the turmoil our country experienced in the domestic economy during the 90s…Everything else, including the handsome ships being built in proud French docks, was seen as nothing more than a necessary burden.”
Lekuh argued that the French government has behaved in a manner which has humiliated its own weapons producers, noting that “in the interests of Uncle Sam…the French gave Russia all its interesting documentation for free.”