Posts Tagged ‘East China Sea’

Japanese warship in Philippines for goodwill visit

May 24, 2018
Aboard the visiting Japanese warship are 220 officers and crew headed by Capt. Susumi Moriyama, commander of the Japan’s Escort Division Seven, and Commander Tokeshi Tonegawa, commanding officer of the JS Setogori.
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) – May 25, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Japanese destroyer which sailed through the West Philippine Sea is expected to dock at the Port of Manila today for a two-day goodwill visit.

Philippine Navy spokesman Capt. Lued Lincuna yesterday said the Asagiri-class destroyer JS Setogori will be docking at Pier 15, South Harbor at around 7:30 a.m. today.

Aboard the visiting Japanese warship are 220 officers and crew headed by Capt. Susumi Moriyama, commander of the Japan’s Escort Division Seven, and Commander Tokeshi Tonegawa, commanding officer of the JS Setogori.

Setogori last visited the Philippines two years ago. This is the fourth port call within the last five months by Japanese warships of various types.

The increase in goodwill visits is occurring amid the mounting regional security concerns spawned by China’s continuing military build up in the South China Sea.

Aside from anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-surface missiles, China has been reported to have landed a nuclear-capable long range bomber at Woody Island in the Paracel Island Group.

Close to China’s southern province of Hainan, Woody island is just north of the disputed Spratlys archipelago, where Beijing has already established its naval and air bases on three of its man-made islands.

While Japan is not a party to the maritime dispute in the Spratlys archipelago, it is closely monitoring China’s military activities in the region in relation to its own maritime dispute with China in the Senkaku Island Group in the East China Sea.

Two key areas in the South China Sea that Tokyo is very concerned about are the Chinese activities at Panatag Shoal near Zambales as well as Bashi Channel towards East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Home ported at Ominato Naval Base, JS Setogori is among key Japanese Self Defense Forces naval assets strategically prepositioned at the northern tip of mainland Japan.

From the highly-secured Ominato Naval Base, Japan’s warships can sail either towards East China Sea or the Pacific Ocean through a channel opening that connect the two seas.

“The Philippine Navy will render customary welcome ceremony upon arrival of the vessel, to be followed by port briefing on security and health aboard the Japanese destroyer,” Lincuna said.

In a related development, the Philippine Navy is sending, for the first time, two of its vessels to take part in the forthcoming Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s biggest naval and maritime joint exercises scheduled this year.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrada said they have yet to name the two warships that will participate in the exercises.

The annual naval exercise has 27 countries participating. China, however, was disinvited into the joint drill due to its continuing militarization in the South China Sea.

The RIMPAC exercise is spearheaded by the Hawaii-based US Pacific Command.




China air force lands bombers on South China Sea island — Preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

May 19, 2018

China’s air force has landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region, it said in a statement.

“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” it said in the statement issued on Friday (May 18).

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It said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

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The notice, published on the PLAAF’s Weibo microblogging account, did not provide the precise location of the exercise.

The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

“The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan told Reuters.

“We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region.”

Taiwan Wants To Move Faster Toward Military Self-Sufficiency

May 16, 2018

The Ministry of National Defense sees the rapid build-up of the military’s operational capabilities as its top priority and would like to see efforts to create a self-sufficient defense industry receive more funding than the procurement of US arms, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa said in an interview with Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) staff reporters Aaron TuHuang Wei-chu and Lo Tien-pi

Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa gestures during an interview in Taipei on May 2.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Has the country officially requested the US to sell F-35 jets and M1 tanks?

Yen De-fa (嚴德發): The air force’s operational requirements dictate that the next generation of fighters must possess stealth characteristics, be short take-off capable and be able to fight beyond visual range. The F-35 is a fine fighter and we are seeking it.

To answer the question as to whether we have formally requested the F-35 from the US, although we have been holding dialogues with US officials, they have not reached a definitive conclusion. US officials are evaluating it, and they might have their own concerns over its high cost or other considerations.

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However, I can confirm that negotiations are ongoing.

Our nation’s new strategic doctrine is strong defense and layered deterrence. Military history is clear in that land warfare continues to be the decisive form of combat. We need to re-establish our ability to deter on the ground. The combat power of tanks is crucial toward that end.

Outside critics have questioned whether tanks would be impeded by terrain factors. However, those concerns have already been more than adequately addressed by armed forces’ established procedure for the operational deployment of tanks.

After completing the evaluation of this procurement proposal, we will officially make a request to the US. Overall, our plan is to make arms sales and technological transfers pave the way toward achieving self-sufficiency in national defense.

For instance, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has developed the Thunderbolt-2000 multiple-launch rocket system and precision-guided munitions to provide asymmetric warfare capabilities. Arms sales should fill gaps in the capabilities of a nation’s defense industry; the rest of our weapons should be furnished via a self-sufficient national defense industry that is supplemented by technology transfers in key areas.

LT: The navy’s most important procurement objective is to have an indigenously designed and built submarine. What is the status of the project?

Yen: The US government’s decision to approve marketing licenses for submarine technology is a boon to our nation. It represents a major breakthrough and it has greatly aided our efforts toward integration.

As a result of this breakthrough, we estimate that the contract design phase for the submarine program will be completed by 2020. The program’s progress has been on track.

In addition, the navy’s other programs — entering the Tuo Jiang-class corvette into mass production and developing a next-generation guided missile frigate — are very beneficial to the goal of a self-sufficient defense industry.

The armed forces’ highest-priority policy is defense self-sufficiency. The policy is comprised of indigenous warships, indigenous jets and the creation of information and communications capabilities. We are pursuing those tasks with seriousness and vigor.

At the moment, defense self-sufficiency and arms sales claim about equal portions of the defense budget and resources. I hope to see the former exceed the later.

The aim of defense self-sufficiency is to avoid over-reliance on foreign military aid and to build our own strength. It does not behoove us to expect help from others in a crisis.

Another important objective for defense self-sufficiency is to stimulate domestic industries. As President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said, the defense industry is playing a crucial role in fueling the expansion of domestic demand.

For instance, defense technology transfers to the private sector are valued at an estimated NT$104.78 billion [US$3.52 billion at the current exchange rate] in 2016, and NT$101.64 billion in the following year, pulling ahead of program milestones.

In addition, the indigenous advanced jet trainer is scheduled to leavethe factory in September 2019 and make its maiden flight in June 2020. These programs are on track and we have the highest confidence in their continued success.

LT: Regarding enlistment for the all-volunteer force, the military this year fell short of its recruitment target by more than 17,000 enlistments. When will the military make up for this shortfall and what is the military doing to improve force retention?

Yen: The public is very concerned with the military’s ability to find recruits.

Actually, the armed forces do not have a shortage of troops. The military has met its recruitment goal of 15,000 volunteers every year since 2014; in fact, we exceeded our target last year.

There is nothing wrong with the program of enlisting volunteers. The great advantage of a volunteer force is that the troops serve for longer and have the ability to cultivate specialized skills at the intermediate or advanced level.

I have ordered all volunteer troops to gain proficiency in at least two specialist fields. For example, an infantry soldier should be a proficient sharpshooter with a rifle and a machinegun, but should also master the use of rocket weapons and mortars.

This system meets battlefield conditions more realistically. When a comrade becomes a casualty, soldiers are expected to step up and take their place immediately.

What armed forces do have a shortage of are junior-grade officers — lieutenants and captains.

For this reason, the ministry last year instituted career tracks for non-commissioned officers’ promotion into commissioned ranks, increased the recruitment of officer cadets and established volunteer officer reservists. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has also been meeting its enlistment targets.

Through flexibility and expedience, we have gained officers in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Currently, 128 institutions of higher education are participating in the ROTC program.

We are confident that by the end of next year, the gap in junior officer enlistments will be closed.

More importantly, President Tsai’s authorization of extra pay for seven categories of troops and officers has been a boon to morale. The military is in the process of requesting the Executive Yuan to improve the salary of command sergeants.

Furthermore, President Tsai has given a lot of attention to improving the quality of life for military personnel. The military is about to renovate 159 older barracks, which will stimulate domestic demand, improve the quality of life for service members and benefit recruitment efforts.

LT: US President Donald Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. What progress has been made in Taiwan-US military cooperation? Are there any plans for high-level visits between the militaries of the two nations? What is our nation’s role in regional security?

Yen: The Taiwan-US Defense Business Forum and the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference are both organized by non-governmental entities. They are the platforms for the defense industries of the two nations to cooperate. We expect to see topics pertinent to defense industry cooperation discussed at these events.

The US-Taiwan Defense Business Forum is scheduled [this month] in Kaohsiung, the first time the event has been hosted in Taiwan.

The US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in the second half of this year is in fact a semi-official function. It provides our industries with the opportunity to followup on cooperation in the US. The conference will be productive for arms procurement and defense self-sufficiency.

The military will make the best use of this opportunity with the nation’s companies.

We welcome the passage into law of the US’ 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and Taiwan Travel Act. Military exchanges between the two nations are already very close and frequent.

We are discussing the types of activities our officials and armed forces will be able to participate in; they might include military exercises and humanitarian operations, or other types of drills related to humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, we are seeking to implement and improve joint activities that the governments have approved.

Regarding the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, our government has repeatedly emphasized to the US government that Taiwan should play a more active role in maintaining regional security. Freedom, democracy, openness and human rights are the core values of our nation.

None of our neighboring counties should overlook this fact. The virtuous are never alone; as we safeguard democratic values, we will gain the support of other nations.

As for the exchange of officials, if the US extends an invitation to us, I would absolutely go to the US. There is nothing to ponder here.

Anything that will strengthen the military capabilities of our nation, any form of exchange and cooperation, is a welcome development.

Translated by staff writer Jonathan Chin

China admits military exercises intended to threaten Taiwan — “It is a strong warning to Taiwan independence separatist forces”

May 16, 2018

A Chinese government spokesman said Wednesday that the country’s military exercises around Taiwan are intended as a direct threat to the self-governing island’s government over moves Beijing sees as cementing its independence from the mainland.

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Two Chinese Air Force Su-35 fighter jets and a H-6K bomber fly in formation during a patrol near Taiwan on Friday. | AP

The message conveyed by the recent drills is “very clear,” spokesman for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office An Fengshan said at a biweekly news conference.

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An Fengshan

“It is a strong warning to Taiwan independence separatist forces and their activities. It demonstrates our determination and capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” An said.

China has the “firm will, full confidence and sufficient capabilities” to block moves toward Taiwan’s formal independence, An said.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under control by force if necessary. A Japanese colony for 50 years, Taiwan was handed to China at the end of World War II but separated from the mainland in 1949 amid civil war.

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Chinese H-6 Bomber

Since her election in 2016, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused China’s demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of China. That prompted Beijing to cut off contact with her government, step up military exercises and work to increase Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation.

Chinese state media have given heavy publicity to frequent missions by air force fighters, bombers and surveillance planes to circle Taiwan. China last month held drills on its side of the Taiwan Strait and has repeatedly sailed its sole operating aircraft carrier through the 160-km (100-mile)-wide waterway.

Despite Beijing’s threats and strong economic ties between the sides, surveys show few Taiwanese favor political unification with authoritarian, Communist Party-ruled China.

Associated Press

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America Can’t Afford to Cede the Seas

May 15, 2018

Does the U.S. want to continue as a great power? China’s navy is set to surpass our fleet by 2030.

The USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in a joint exercise with the South Korean navy in the East China Sea, Nov. 13, 2017.
The USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in a joint exercise with the South Korean navy in the East China Sea, Nov. 13, 2017. PHOTO: YONHAP NEWS/NEWSCOM VIA ZUMA

The escalating territorial disputes in the Pacific between China and America’s allies create an ever-more-urgent need for U.S. sea power. But even as China rapidly expands and modernizes its navy, the Trump administration has not proposed enough funds to maintain America’s maritime advantage. Beginning with the coming 2019 federal budget, the president and Congress must commit to funding a full, modern fleet—or risk ceding essential U.S. and allied interests.

American sea power has secured the Pacific since the end of World War II, assuring safe and open trade, while defusing conflict throughout the region. Maintaining a powerful navy for these ends is hardly an American innovation: No great state or empire has ever retained its status without pre-eminent sea power. The histories of Athens, Venice, Spain, Holland and England show that losing control of the oceans leads ineluctably to losing great-power status.

The rapid growth and improvement of China’s naval forces is the major challenge to American sea dominance today, and likely for the foreseeable future. Retired Capt. James Fanell, former director of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, stated in 2015 that China’s combat fleet will reach 415 ships in 2030. Beijing is particularly focused on adding submarines, amphibious vessels and small surface combatants. The buildup demonstrates China’s clear intention to dominate in coastal regions and amphibious operations—domains in which the U.S. has pre-eminence today.

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China’s new home-built aircraft carrier is on sea trials

As Adm. Phil Davidson, nominated to lead the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate in April: China “is no longer a rising power but an arrived great power and peer competitor.” He added that “China has undergone a rapid military modernization over the last three decades and is approaching parity in a number of critical areas; there is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China.”

The White House has proposed expanding the U.S. Navy to 355 ships, but its plan is too slow and underfunded. The full fleet would not be complete until 2050 at the earliest. Although President Trump proposes to dedicate $20 billion for new ship construction in 2019, and about the same in constant dollars in each of the next five years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the project requires an additional $6.6 billion a year over the next 30 years. Without increased funding, the fleet will be smaller in three decades than it is today, and China’s navy could surpass it by 2030.

Americans would quickly see the consequences of ceding power in the Pacific. Already, China’s growing navy may soon aim to control movement around the first island chain in the East China Sea, which stretches from Japan to the Philippines.

If Beijing gains control of the region, it could hamper America’s coordination with its allies and cast doubt on the U.S. security umbrella. The White House would find it more difficult to prevent distant crises from escalating into direct threats. American business around the world, meanwhile, would be decimated. China would suddenly become the more appealing partner for trade and security. The global maritime order, which has long maintained that the East and South China Seas are international waters, would be replaced by a regional system based on “Chinese characteristics”—the euphemism by which the Chinese Communist Party refers to its brand of state control.

This is not a fait accompli; American sea power can be restored. But it will require the U.S. to decide that its status as the world’s great power is worth preserving. The Navy’s evolutionary approach to modernizing its fleet must be replaced by a revolutionary approach, increasing the current fleet’s technological advantage. And by 2035, the fleet should be expanded to no fewer than 375 ships.

The U.S. must also prepare to engage China’s navy. That means situating U.S. forces within striking distance of the East and South China Seas, with enough troops on hand to police the region effectively. It also means responding in kind to China’s existing provocations. The U.S. should bolster its military and naval support for Taiwan. The Pentagon should lean forward by actively planning to defend the entire first island chain, as well as to blockade the Southeast Asia straits, through which oil from the Middle East now flows to China.

Conflict may come sooner than most Americans imagine. This month alone, Beijing is reported to have placed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three artificial islands in the South China Sea. The U.S. also recently said that American military pilots in Djibouti have been hit with lasers fired from a new Chinese base. The Pentagon has filed a diplomatic démarche requesting that China investigate, but mere diplomacy won’t suffice in the game Beijing is playing.

Timidity deters nothing. It encourages the increasing Chinese aggression. But so far America’s plans to upgrade the U.S. combat fleet have been diffident. To remain the world’s dominant maritime force, U.S. sea power will have to be trained, equipped and exercised. On this rests the future of the U.S. as a great power.

Mr. Cropsey is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower. He was a naval officer and a deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

China Won’t Match U.S. as Military Power, Malaysia’s Najib Says — “I don’t think China will risk any irresponsible action…”

April 26, 2018

Malaysia seeks close ties with both China, U.S., says Najib — Played golf with Obama and Trump — Like France’s Macron, says he has ‘personal relationship’ with Trump

China will become the dominant economic power in Asia in the near term but will not displace the U.S. militarily, according to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

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In an hour-long interview with Bloomberg on April 24, his first one-on-one with international media in more than three years, Najib spoke warmly of Malaysia’s relationship with both China and the U.S. He also stressed the need for the major powers to act in a “constructive” way in the region and avoid a potential Thucydides trap, named after the Greek historian who warned of war when an emerging power challenges a mature one.

“We don’t want a so-called rising power and an old power to be at odds with one another,” Najib said. “China will be the biggest economy, certainly, that’s a fact. But China will not be able to match the United States in terms of being the military superpower as such.”

Read more: Najib Predicts Better Win After 2013 Vote Scare, 1MDB ‘Mistakes’

Najib, 64, who expects his ruling coalition to return to power in a May 9 election, leads a country that sits along a key global trading route through the Malacca Strait into the disputed South China Sea. As a smaller nation, it risks getting caught in the middle as China expands its economic and military clout in Southeast Asia, a region the U.S. has dominated for decades.

“The rise of China is inevitable, you know, whatever you say, you can’t stop it,” Najib said of his country’s biggest trading partner. “It’s a big market and we can do a lot of things with China, provided that China doesn’t use its size of economy and embark on policies that would be hurting us,” he said. “I know it’s a cliche to talk peaceful rise but we believe there’s no reasons for us to doubt that will happen.”

Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has spurred doubt over the future of the U.S. commitment to the region, leading to concerns that China may rise at an accelerated pace. He withdrew from a blockbuster Pacific trade pact that many Asian nations saw as a hallmark of the U.S.’s staying power, and now remaining members such as Malaysia say they don’t want to renegotiate the deal to accommodate a potential U.S. return.

Trump’s ambiguous approach toward U.S. partners has persisted even after the Pentagon warned the U.S. must prepare to wage a great power competition with China and Russia as those nations seek to “co-opt or replace the free and open order that has enabled global security and prosperity since World War II.” Chinese leaders have repeatedly sought to reassure smaller countries, saying they don’t seek hegemony in the region.

Najib Razak with President Trump in Washington in Sept. 2017.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Najib knew Trump before he reached his current levels of fame. As well as meeting in person and speaking on the phone, they’ve played golf together.

“I have a good, warm, I mean a personal relationship with President Donald Trump,” Najib said.

“He’s not bothered about things that don’t matter to him, in a sense,” he added. “I think the two important things that matter to him would be, you know, how to make the United States great and create more jobs. Number two, how to make the United States safe.”

Despite Malaysia’s disappointment with Trump over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, it also faces differences with China. That’s even as economic ties increase, with Malaysia increasingly a part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructureprogram. China was the country’s top source of foreign direct investment last year.

South China Sea

China and Malaysia have competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, a key waterway for trade, fishing and — increasingly — militaries. China asserts ownership of more than 80 percent of the waters, and has built runways and other installations supportive of a military presence on reclaimed reefs.

Admiral Philip Davidson, who was nominated as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in written testimony to Congress this month that Beijing had largely completed building forward bases in the South China Sea.

“Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” he said. “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Najib said he was hopeful China would respect the views of other claimants. He expressed caution when asked if he would consider joint exploration with China of oil and gas resources in the area, saying it could be seen as tacit acceptance of another nation’s claims.

“We have been trying to tell the Chinese government that it should not be a militarized South China Sea, and whatever it is, it should be done on peaceful negotiations and in accordance with international law,” he said. “They do have three man-made islands, atolls that have become major islands but they have not really been fully deployed as military bases so to speak, but they do have some assets.”

Mahathir Mohamad

Photographer: Ian Teh/Bloomberg

Malaysian opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad said in a recent interview that if he wins the election he will restart negotiations on rights and access to the South China Sea while ensuring “friendly” relations with all countries. He also said that Chinese companies currently don’t employ locals or bring in capital and technology to Malaysia.

“Lots of people don’t like Chinese investments,” Mahathir said. “We want to defend the rights of Malaysians. We don’t want to sell chunks of this country to foreign companies who will develop whole towns.”

Mahathir’s comments reflect broader concerns about Chinese investment across Asia that have stoked political tensions from Australia to Sri Lanka. While many countries are eager to benefit from Xi’s largess, they are also wary of becoming too dependent on China.

Najib said the government had written guarantees into Belt and Road contracts to protect local workers. “For example a lot of the infrastructure work will be done by Malaysian companies and they are to employ Malaysian people to work on that project,” he said.

While he said Belt and Road projects would increase China’s influence in the region, he maintained that Malaysia and other Southeast Asian states could manage the issue and refuted any suggestion the projects came with strings attached.

China is “more obsessed” with economic growth than military expansion, Najib said. “I don’t think China will risk any irresponsible action that will undermine its rise to become the largest economy in the world.”

— With assistance by Yudith Ho


Includes video:

China Critical of G7 for “Irresponsible Comments” About South China Sea — G7 called for demilitarization of the disputed features in the South China Sea

April 26, 2018


Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, from left, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy pose for a photo ahead of G7 foreign ministers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
China hits G7’s ‘irresponsible comments’ on South China Sea

Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – April 26, 2018 – 2:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing expressed its opposition to the statement of the G7 foreign ministers regarding China’s actions in the East and South China Seas.

The foreign ministers of the seven richest countries of the world, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, urged all parties in the disputed waters to comply with international law.

“We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order, such as the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation and building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes,” the G7 joint communique read.

The G7 also called for the demilitarization of the disputed features in the South China Sea to secure peace and stability in the region.

The group also expressed concern regarding the destruction of marine ecosystems in the disputed waterway, which threatens sustainability and regional fish stocks.

“We emphasize the importance of ongoing negotiations for an effective code of conduct and welcome an agreement that does not derogate from the rights parties enjoy under international law or affect the rights of third parties,” the G7 said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, called out the G7 for its joint communique containing “irresponsible comments” against Beijing’s actions in the East and South China Seas, as well as the country’s human rights record.

“China is firmly opposed to these words and deeds that show no respect for truth and no sense of responsibility,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Beijing stressed that the country’s position on the aforementioned maritime disputes has always been “clear-cut and consistent.”

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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning (C) takes part in a military drill of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018. REUTERS

“China is always committed to working with the parties directly concerned to properly manage and resolve relevant differences through negotiation and consultation, advance cooperation in various areas, jointly uphold peace and stability of the relevant waters in the region, and safeguard freedom of navigation and overflight and security of sea passages,” Lu said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also asked the G7 countries to “respect facts” especially when it comes to maritime issues.

“They should also respect the efforts made by regional countries to uphold stability while focusing on cooperation and development, and refrain from stirring up troubles and making irresponsible remarks,” Lu said.

The G7 has always been consistent in its position on the South China Sea dispute. Since 2016, the group of the advanced countries has agreed that there is a need to send a strong message against China’s actions in the contested waters.

RELATED: Unlike ASEAN, G7 leaders send strong statement on South China Sea


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.



China’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Already Obsolete

April 26, 2018

But it’s still a powerful signal of Beijing’s ambitions in a post-U.S. Asia. And other new carriers could possibly follow….

China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, arrives in Hong Kong waters on July 7, 2017. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, arrives in Hong Kong waters on July 7, 2017. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)


China’s first home-built aircraft carrier, which was seen Monday being towed from berth, will begin sea trials imminently. When the new vessel enters service some time in 2019 or 2020, China will become the world’s second most powerful operator of aircraft carriers, with a grand total of two. It is a position from which it will never be dislodged.

Yes, France, Russia, and Brazil operate a carrier each; Italy has a couple of small carriers; and the United Kingdom is rebuilding a respectable two-ship fleet, as is India. Other countries, such as Japan and Australia, operate several helicopter carriers, though not fixed-wing aircraft. But China won’t stop at two, nor will it remain satisfied with the inferior Soviet-derived design that was seen Monday. (The first carrier of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLA Navy, is a Soviet-era ship purchased half-finished from Ukraine.)

There are rumors that China’s next ship is already being built, and although it will be smaller than the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class and probably not nuclear-powered, in most other respects it will resemble an American supercarrier. The follow-on ships will be better still. No nation other than the United States has that kind of ambition, and it will give China unquestionably the second-most powerful navy in the world — though admittedly one still a very, very long way behind the U.S. fleet.

But there’s a mystery at the heart of China’s ambitious aircraft carrier program, because over the course of its immense naval modernization effort of the last two decades, China has put so much effort into making aircraft carriers obsolete.

China has acquired dozens of submarines, fleets of strike aircraft, and missiles that can be fired from the air, land, sea, and under the sea, all with one purpose: to make it excessively dangerous for large surface ships to operate near China’s coast. China has even invented an entirely new class of weapon — the anti-ship ballistic missile — that has been dubbed a “carrier killer.”

So why is China’s navy, the very institution that has made America’s carrier fleet in the Pacific so vulnerable, now investing in its own carrier fleet? It has surely occurred to the Chinese that the United States will respond to the PLA’s carriers just as China has done to America’s. In fact, it’s already happening. The U.S. Defense Department is now testing a stealthy long-range anti-ship missile that is almost certainly a reaction to the dramatic growth of China’s surface fleet.

So is China making a big mistake? Is the aircrafft carrier program a folly driven by the navy brass, with no clear strategic purpose?

We shouldn’t dismiss that possibility. In fact, that may be exactly how China’s carrier program started. In early 2015, the South China Morning Post published a series of articles revealing the extraordinary pre-history of China’s carrier program. In the mid-1990s, a small group of entrepreneurial PLA Navy officers enlisted the help of Hong Kong businessman Xu Zengping to purchase the hull of a half-finished Soviet-era carrier from Ukraine on the public pretense that it would be rebuilt as a floating casino. Incredibly, the officers told Xu that this initiative had no official backing from Beijing. They were making a potentially transformative arms purchase on their own initiative.

The carrier program has clearly grown since those beginnings and has much further to grow still, so it is safe to assume that the Chinese leadership has now embraced it and has a specific plan in mind for its growing fleet. What could that plan be?

China is a great power with a huge economy. In fact, a recent Australian government report estimates that by 2030, the Chinese economy will be worth $42 trillion versus $24 trillion for the United States — in other words, in less than 15 years’ time China’s economy could be almost double the size of America’s.

No country of that size would accept that it should remain strategically subordinate to another great power in its own backyard, and China certainly doesn’t. Beijing already wants to lead in Asia, and that means having a powerful military with the ability to project power over long distances. For China to become Asia’s strategic leader, it will need to push the United States out. So maybe the carrier fleet is a frontal assault on the core of U.S. power in the Pacific, an attempt to build a force capable of ending America’s naval dominance with a fleet that could overwhelm the United States in an arms race or, if necessary, defeat it in a Midway-style battle.

But even for a country as big as China, building a fleet of that size and capability is a formidable and massively expensive challenge. At the current pace of modernization, it could take decades to build such a fleet, particularly if the United States and its allies respond by improving their own capabilities. And that’s not to mention the heightened risk of a catastrophic great-power war.

So here’s an alternative explanation: China’s carrier-centered navy is not designed so much to challenge U.S. maritime supremacy as to inherit it. China may be betting that the United States won’t need to be pushed out of Asia, at least not by a frontal challenge to its naval power. Rather, the United States will slowly withdraw of its own accord because the cost of maintaining that leadership is rising so dramatically. Consider America’s defense commitment to Taiwan. Before China’s massive investment in anti-ship capabilities, the United States could safely sail its carrier through the Taiwan Strait, and its ability to defend Taiwan remained unquestioned. Now, the United States would be at serious risk of losing one or two carrier battle groups in any confrontation over Taiwan. The cost of defending South Korea has risen steeply, too, with North Korea close to deploying a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach cities on the continental United States, if it hasn’t already.

As the costs of U.S. military leadership in Asia rise, questions about why the United States needs to maintain that leadership become louder. America’s military presence in Asia made sense in the Cold War, but it is much harder to justify now.

If China inherits U.S. leadership in Asia, it won’t need a fleet as big as America’s. Some experts predict China will build just six carriers, quite enough to cement its leadership in a post-American Asia. And that’s when China’s carrier fleet will really come into its own, for although aircraft carriers are increasingly vulnerable to sophisticated anti-ship weapons, America has demonstrated that they are incredibly useful when you have command of the oceans.

That’s why China’s new fleet is such bad news for the small Southeast Asian nations in particular. In a post-American Asia, larger powers such as South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Australia have a fighting chance of resisting Chinese coercion if they invest more heavily in their own defense capacities. That isn’t an option for smaller powers, particularly as they enter China’s economic orbit via initiatives such as the Belt and Road.

The Chinese aircraft carrier about to put to sea is no match for the U.S. Navy, but that should bring little comfort to the United States and its Asian allies. Indeed, China may be betting that it will never have to confront the U.S. fleet and that it can prepare for the day the Navy sails back to home shores.

Correction, April 25, 2018: China’s first home-built aircraft carrier will begin sea trials imminently. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that it had already set sail. 

Sam Roggeveen is a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. He is the founding editor of the Interpreter and was previously a senior analyst in Australia’s peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments.

Foreign Policy:

Who Will Win the New Great Game?

April 26, 2018

This is not a new Cold War. The West is in a battle with China and Russia for money, influence and power.

People celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year in Lviv, Ukraine, in February. Beijing has increased its investment in Ukraine and considers the country an important building block in its new Silk Road to Europe.CreditMykola Tys/European Pressphoto Agency

Hamburg, Germany — To claim we are living through a new Cold War is both an understatement and a category mistake. The 20th-century face-off between the Communist East and the Capitalist West was, ideology aside, about two superpowers trying to contain each other. The global conflict of today is far less static.

What we are witnessing instead is a new Great Game, a collision of great powers that are trying to roll back one another’s spheres of influence. Unlike the Great Game of the 19th century between the British and the Russian Empire that culminated in the fight for dominance over Afghanistan, today’s Great Game is global, more complex and much more dangerous.

Call it the Game of Threes. It involves three prime players, Russia, China and the West, which are competing in three ways: geographically, intellectually and economically. And there are three places where the different claims to power clash: Syria, Ukraine and the Pacific. Many of the defining conflicts of our time can be defined through some combination of those three sets.

To differing degrees, governments and citizens from Cairo to Copenhagen have grown skeptical about whether liberal democracy and postwar internationalism have been, or will be, the right choice for them. To all those doubters, China and Russia stand ready as alternative models and protective powers, offering new arrangements for bilateral and multilateral alignments. You don’t want to follow international law, European integration or anti-corruption schemes? Follow us!

What will prove more attractive to the Egyptian government, for instance, in the likely case of another mass uprising in the country: an alignment with Europe, which is annoyingly nervous about the respect for human rights, or an alignment with Russia, which has proved that it will look the other way in the face of domestic oppression — even if an ally uses chemical weapons against its own people?

While Russia offers military ruthlessness, China offers a mercantile variant. Unlike the West, China doesn’t let human rights and the rule of law get in the way of investments. In late 2017, Beijing increased its investment in Ukraine, announcing it as an important building block in its new Silk Road to Europe. The government in corruption-ridden Kiev has already gladly declared 2019 to be “the Year of China” in Ukraine.

Or consider the Balkans. You could, as prime minister of a Balkan state, wait endlessly for the European Union to let you enter the club by adhering to strict compliance standards and implement its 80,000 pages of required laws. Or you could turn to Chinese investors, who won’t ask for any such fuss. In 2016, the president of China, Xi Jinping, spent three days on a state visit in Serbia. The year before, Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, only stopped there for a few hours.

State-controlled Chinese companies have since bought Serbia’s biggest steel mill, the Tirana International Airport in Albania and a major coal power plant in Romania, and leased part of the harbor of Piraeus in Greece, to name but a few of its strategic acquisitions in Europe.

While China does not seem as driven by aggressive anti-Western sentiments as Russia does, Beijing and Moscow share the strategic goal: to reduce Western influence worldwide. China delivers the money to bolster new alliances, while Russia delivers the political poison to weaken the old ones. It’s a perfect match.

Just as during the 19th-century Great Game, the Kremlin has the advantage of not needing to worry about public criticism at home as it pushes an illiberal agenda abroad. On the contrary: While applying military force abroad tends to destabilize Western governments, it seems only to bolster the regime of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

If anything, the Russian population glories in the atrocities of its former leaders as well as those of the current one. According to a 2017 poll by the Levada Center, 38 percent of Russians regard the mass murderer Joseph Stalin as the “most outstanding person” in world history, followed by Mr. Putin at 34 percent.

Here’s where the intellectual dimension of the Great Game comes in: Societal self-criticism, alien to a large part of Russian society, is a defining feature of many Western countries. Publicly expressed and debated tensions between the state and the people, and among various factions of the public, are what make a liberal society tick.

But the strength of this skepticism can prove to be a weakness if exploited by a force that seeks the destruction of the very concept of truth. As an intellectual force, Russia is to Europe what Mephisto is to Faust: “I am the Spirit that denies!” To paraphrase Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who wrote the most famous version of their story: For all the West has built, should rightly to destruction run.

This is why the Russian disinformation and its grotesque twisting of facts is so effective. Mr. Putin knows that Europeans deeply distrust their governments on questions of war and peace, especially after several of them relied on twisted intelligence to justify the Iraq war. The poison used on the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England, and the chemical weapons dropped with impunity on the children of Syria kill people as well as trust in elected representatives in London, Paris and Berlin.

There is no doubt that the international community has violated its own standards at times, conducting legally questionable or outright illegal actions in Kosovo, Iraq and Syria. Russia and China are doing the opposite: using their power as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to block justice and to undermine the West.

Who will win in the long run? It is too soon to know whether the West is willing to stand up collectively to the challenge. The good news, though, is that Russia and China may yet lose at the new Great Game. It’s expensive to play, and global power grabs untethered to a broader vision of global order tend to falter, as resources and lives expended abroad fail to bring peace and progress at home.

The German poet Theodor Fontane famously described the catastrophe that ended the British Army’s attempt to secure hegemony against Russia in the Hindu Kush in 1842: “With 13,000 the trek began — one came home from Afghanistan.” In one way or another, Russia and China may soon reap similar results.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

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The Next Step for Chinese Economic Policy

April 24, 2018

China now must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001

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Now that it has risen to the top of the global economy, China must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. Its current policy will only lead to a serious trade conflict with the US.
CAMBRIDGE – I am a great admirer of China and its ability to adjust its economic policies to maintain rapid growth. But now that it has risen to the top of the global economy, it must adopt the necessary reforms to become fully compliant with the international rules that it accepted upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.

When I first went to China in 1982, it was a very poor country governed by a thoroughly communist regime. Agriculture was completely collectivized. Because peasants had lost the right to farm their own land, agricultural output was extremely low. Beyond agriculture, individual ownership of the means of production was outlawed. A Chinese family could own a sewing machine for its own use, but it could not own two sewing machines or hire a neighbor to help produce garments.2

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, this began to change. Plots of land were returned to their previous owners, who were allowed to keep any output exceeding the government’s mandatory quota. As a result, agricultural output soared, and farmers produced a range of additional crops, like flowers and vegetables, to sell directly to the public. Restrictions on ownership of productive assets and on hiring workers were gradually relaxed, such that the private sector now accounts for the majority of economic activity in China.

The result was an explosion of economic growth and a rapid increase in living standards. Since 1982, China’s real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has grown at an average annual rate of more than 7%. Per capita real GDP is now 18 times higher, with some 800 million people having been lifted out of poverty since the start of Deng’s reforms. Although overall per capita output in China is still only a quarter of the US level, the standard of living in China’s major cities is impressively high. To see the gleaming skyscrapers and array of shops serving affluent young people is to appreciate the change that has occurred in just a few decades.

Deng once declared, “To get rich is glorious.” China’s people have responded. Private entities flourish, and a very active stock market allows widespread share ownership. China apparently has more self-made billionaires than the United States.

The combination of private incentives and effective education is a key reason for China’s rapid growth. China has an ancient tradition of promoting the brightest students based on extensive examinations. The officials who worked for the emperors were selected based on written exams of Confucian thought. Now literacy is universal and national examinations are used to decide who goes to the top universities. More than a million Chinese students have studied in the US, and several of the top government economic officials have done graduate work there.

In many ways, the Chinese economy now works like a large American multinational corporation. Broad strategy is set by management at the top: growth targets, the structural shift from heavy industry to consumption, the Belt and Road Initiative (which will guide exports and foreign aid), and so on. Individual managers are tried out in regional cities and promoted based on their success in achieving the goals set by national leaders.

The goals set by President Xi Jinping and the current government are to increase the sophistication of the economy and achieve a middle-class standard of living for the population. To succeed, China is investing large sums in research and technical education.

But in their eagerness to catch up to the West, China has also stolen technology from Western companies. Under President Barack Obama, the US accused China of engaging in cyber espionage against American firms and stealing their intellectual property. Presidents Xi and Obama subsequently signed a communiqué in 2013 renouncing such cyber theft.

  • GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -5 JUNE 2016- The headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is located in Centre William Rappard along Lake Geneva.

But China continues to take technology from US companies. It does so by requiring foreign companies that want to do business in China to form joint ventures with Chinese firms, allowing the Chinese partners to obtain US firms’ technology. And while the WTO prohibits member countries from conditioning market access on such mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese have responded that nothing is mandatory, because companies do not have to do business in China.

That is clearly disingenuous, and the announcement of large US tariffs on Chinese exports is intended to encourage China to comply with the WTO rule on technology transfer. The Chinese may be getting the message. In an important recent speech at this year’s Boao Forum, Xi said that China will no longer require such joint ventures in the auto industry – an implicit admission that the requirement is a violation of the WTO rule.

It is time for China to extend this new policy and eliminate the joint-venture requirement completely. Although the US does not have such a requirement, it would be helpful for both countries to state openly that in the future no foreign company will be required to enter a joint venture or to transfer technology in other ways as a condition of doing business.

China can continue its rapid growth and technological development through its own efforts. Its current policy will only lead to a serious trade conflict.