Posts Tagged ‘PLAN’

China Wants To Duplicate Its South China Sea Success in the Indian Ocean

October 12, 2017

By Brahma Chellaney

Beijing is looking to repeat its aggressive success in the South China Sea

Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, right, greets U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis upon his arrival at the Defense Ministry in New Delhi on Sept. 26. © AP

The Indian Ocean, with its crowded and in some cases contested sea lanes, is becoming the focus of international maritime rivalry as various powers joust for advantage and influence in one of the global economy’s most vital transit routes.

As if to highlight this trend, the Chinese navy recently conducted live-fire drills in the western Indian Ocean. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted the fleet commander as saying that his ships “carried out strikes against ‘enemy’ surface ships.” Earlier this year, a Chinese fleet carried out similar live-fire drills in the eastern Indian Ocean.

As these exercises show, the geostrategic maritime environment in the Indian Ocean is changing fundamentally. A 1971 United Nations resolution declaring it a “zone of peace” has fallen by the wayside.

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EXTENDING OUTWARD China’s increasing activity reflects a strategic shift from “offshore waters defense” to “open seas protection,” carried out in the name of safeguarding its trade and energy interests. This mirrors the evolution of its land-combat strategy from “deep defense” (luring enemy forces into Chinese territory, where they can be annihilated) to “active defense” (a proactive posture designed to fight on enemy territory).

Beijing is also pursuing ostensibly economic initiatives to advance its geostrategic ambitions, including implementing its Maritime Silk Road project to gain a major foothold in the Indian Ocean and chip away at India’s natural geographic advantage.

The growing importance of the Indian Ocean’s resources and sea lanes is apparent. More than half of the world’s container traffic, two-thirds of its seaborne petroleum trade and a third of all maritime traffic traverse the ocean, much of it through chokepoints such as the Malacca and Hormuz straits. The Indian Ocean is also rich in mineral wealth, with deep seabed mining emerging as a major new strategic issue.

The dangerous rush to exploit its mineral and fishing resources threatens to exact a considerable environmental cost and may spark new conflicts. For example, several studies have indicated that commercial fishing by foreign fleets, by depleting local resources, has driven poor Somali fishermen to piracy.

The rise of nonstate actors such as pirates, terrorists and criminal syndicates off the Horn of Africa and elsewhere is also linked with the increasing density and importance of maritime flows through the Indian Ocean. At the same time, this development has become a pretext for outside powers to intervene and project their naval power. China, for example, has cited piracy as an excuse to launch naval operations around the Horn of Africa and to set up its first overseas naval base at Djibouti.

China’s increasing boldness in the Indian Ocean is inspired by its success in changing the status quo in its favor in the adjacent South China Sea, where it has pushed its borders far out into international waters in a way that no power has done elsewhere. By erecting military facilities on man-made islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, China has positioned its naval and air power at the mouth of the Indian Ocean.

It is now rapidly expanding its Indian Ocean footprint. In addition to setting up the Djibouti base, it is also investing in building regional ports, including in Pakistan at Gwadar, in Sri Lanka at Hambantota, and in Myanmar at Kyaukpyu. It also has port projects in the Seychelles and the Maldives. China’s fast-growing submarine fleet is best suited not for the shallow South China Sea but for the Indian Ocean’s deep waters, a message Beijing has conveyed by dispatching attack submarines to the area.

It was always clear that if China got its way in the South China Sea, it would turn its attention to the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. Yet U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration allowed China to forcefully change the status quo in the South China Sea with impunity. Under Donald Trump, the U.S. has shown no desire to rectify the situation. As a result, China is solidifying its dominance there while the U.S. conducts symbolic freedom-of-navigation operations.

NO CONSEQUENCES In effect, China has demonstrated that defiant unilateralism carries no costs. This has left countries bearing the brunt of Beijing’s aggressive policies with difficult choices. China’s actions have, however, prompted Japan to reverse a decade of declining military outlays and India to revive stalled naval modernization.

Japan, which is heavily dependent on the Indian Ocean region for supplies of energy and raw materials, has also stepped up its regional engagement. For example, it is investing in eight port construction or renovation projects in Indonesia, India, Iran, Oman, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar and the Seychelles. Japan is also seeking to play a more active role in protecting the Indian Ocean sea lanes.

India, despite its strategic depth in the Indian Ocean, faces a new threat from the oceanic south. With Chinese submarines now making regular forays into India’s maritime backyard, New Delhi must devise concrete steps to deal with China’s growing presence. It needs a comprehensive maritime security strategy backed by naval capabilities that can take on tasks ranging from protecting and securing the seas to projecting power across the Indian Ocean region.

The Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, in the Bay of Bengal, is a critical asset for India to counter China’s growing maritime presence and to blunt its increasing land-based, trans-Himalayan military threat. Located next to the Strait of Malacca, the archipelago offers control of this strategic chokepoint, which is one of China’s greatest maritime vulnerabilities. Just as the Chinese military harasses and threatens Indian border patrols in the Himalayas, India can potentially play the same game off the Andaman and Nicobar chain, including by establishing China-style civilian maritime militias backed by the Indian Coast Guard.

The importance of this chokepoint can be easily stated: A third of the 61% of global petroleum and other liquid products transported on maritime routes transits the Strait of Malacca, including around 82% of China’s fuel imports.

More fundamentally, greater maritime cooperation among democratic powers is becoming an unavoidable necessity. Cooperation between Japan, India, Australia, Indonesia and the U.S. must extend to guarding the various “gates” to the Indian Ocean by exerting naval power at critical chokepoints. The aim should be to forestall the emergence of a destabilizing Sinocentric Asia. The common observation that “whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia” is unattributed but nonetheless true.

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and author of nine books, including the award-winning “Water: Asia’s New Battleground.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20171012/Viewpoints/Brahma-Chellaney-Democracies-must-rally-to-curb-China-s-Indian-Ocean-ambitions

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Opinion: Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China

October 6, 2017

By Ralph Jennings
Forbes

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Activists chant anti-China slogans during a rally in Hanoi on March 14, 2016, to mark the anniversary of a 1988 battle in the Spratly Islands, a rare act of protest over an issue that has come to dog relations between Hanoi and Beijing. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

China has stoked many of Asia’s maritime sovereignty disputes by reclaiming land to build artificial islands and, in some cases, adding military infrastructure to those islands. To rub in the message that it has the more power than anyone else in the widely disputed, 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, the Beijing government glibly sails coast guard ships around the exclusive ocean economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Off its east coast, China routinely passes boats through a tract of sea disputed with, and controlled by Japan.

But let’s linger on another country for a second – Vietnam.

A fisherman and his son try to fix the roof of their boat on Thuan Phuoc port in prior to the next fishing trip on August 30, 2016 in Danang, Vietnam. (AFP/Getty image)

The country with a 3,444 kilometer-long coastline shows every sign of being Asia’s second most expansion-minded maritime power after China.

Here’s the evidence:

  • Last year the American Center for Strategic & International Studies said Vietnam had landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself, though China’s method was probably more destructive. It holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional rivals.

 

  • This year Vietnam renewed a deal with the overseas subsidiary of state-owned Indian oil firm ONGC to explore for fossil fuels under the ocean floor. Beijing will likely bristle at this move because it too claims waters off the Vietnamese east coast as part of its position that 95% of the whole sea is Chinese, but Vietnam has not backed down. In any case, India is Vietnam’s new best friend — to wit its call in July to step up a year-old partnership.

 

  • Vietnamese fishing boats, a large share of the 1.72 million that trawl the South China Sea, have been sent off by other coastal states and as far off as Indonesia and Thailand, scholars who follow the maritime dispute say. Two Vietnamese fishermen turned up dead 34 kilometers from the Philippines last month in what’s believed to be an incident involving an official vessel from Manila. Fish were 10% of Vietnam’s export revenues as of a decade ago, the University of British Columbia says in this study. “Fish stocks in Vietnam have been depleted, so they have to venture further away to continue their business,” says Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “As they venture further away it’s easier for them to get into other countries’ waters and they commit illegal fishing.”

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  • Vietnam protests when Taiwan makes its presence felt on Taiping Island. Although Taiping is the largest feature in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, Taiwan has little clout in the bigger sovereignty dispute and has even used its Taiping facilities to help Vietnamese fishermen in distress. But the Vietnamese foreign ministry formally protested at least once in 2016 and again in March this year when Taiwan had a live-fire military drill. “They said Taiwan’s activities violated its sovereignty,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “Whenever Taiwan makes a move, Vietnam always protests. It’s been like that all along. Vietnam is pretty assertive.”

 

  • China has to watch it, too. China is using economic incentives to get along with other South China Sea states but things keep going wrong with Vietnam. In June, a senior Chinese military official cut short his visit to Vietnam as the host was looking for oil in disputed waters, and in August foreign ministers from the two countries cancelled a meeting – presumably over their maritime disputes — on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations event.

Vietnam’s maritime muscle makes a lot of sense. The country of 93 million people is on the move economically, dependent on the sea. Nationalism is growing, too, and citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2017/10/05/vietnam-is-becoming-asias-most-aggressive-maritime-nation-after-china/#297ee547737e

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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.

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China Increases Efforts To Claim South China Sea Sandbars Near Philippines

October 5, 2017
Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) said that he received reports that Chinese militia had been harassing Philippine vessels conducting patrols in the three sandbars west of Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea. Rep. Gary Alejano/Released

MANILA, Philippines (First published at 7:30 p.m., Oct.4) — The Chinese are employing new tactics in their bid to claim sandbars near Pag-asa Island as part of the territorial waters of Subi Reef, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Alejano said he received a report that Chinese maritime militia harassed a Philippine patrol vessel conducting a seaborne patrol in the three sandbars west of Pag-asa (international name Thitu) on September 18.

The sandbars are numbered three, two and one with number one as the farthest, as shown in the photo provided by Alejano.

The three sand bars are part of the Pag-asa Island network of sand bars, reefs, and atolls which are under the Philippine control. Rep. Gary Alejano/Released

According to the report, no untoward incident occurred when the Philippine vessel reached sandbar three.

As the vessel neared sandbar two, a Chinese maritime militia less than two nautical miles south sounded its siren continuously to warn the Philippine vessel.

“A People’s Liberation Army Navy and another Chinese maritime militia were positioned just over one [nautical mile] north of sandbar two,” the report read.

Four Chinese maritime militias closed in on the Philippine vessel as it proceeded to sandbar one and sounded their sirens simultaneously.

Alejano described this action as a “deliberate but aggressive action undertaken by Chinese maritime militia to ward off or limit any Philippine vessel from coming near to sandbars.”

The Chinese Navy and Coast Guard have reportedly been stationed permanently in the vicinity of the three sandbars, according to the lawmaker.

“The Chinese have apparently employed a new tactic in pressuring or harassing Philippine vessels patrolling the sand bars. This is an indication that China intends to claim these sandbars as part of the territorial waters of Subi Reef that they have reclaimed,” Alejano said.

‘We should not let guards down’

Alejano warned that the Philippine government must be watchful of the Chinese, particularly on its actions in the disputed West Philippine Sea. The Duterte government has had a rapprochement with China in pursuing a new foreign policy that seemed to have created friction with longstanding ally, United States.

The Philippines and its traditional maritime rival, China, have agreed to restart bilateral negotiations over the row months after an international arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s maritime claims.

“While the country is talking with China, we should not let our guards down. We should be vigilant in guarding our territories and protecting our rights in West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The lawmaker further expressed concern over government troops stationed in the occupied islands facing threats from Beijing.

“They need all the support from our government and the Filipino people. It would be disheartening for them to hear from high government officials that we cannot defend ourselves from any external aggression,” Alejano said.

The Philippines should take lessons from Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, which were snatched by China from the country.

As a low-tide elevation, Subi Reef is not entitled to a 12-nautical mile territorial waters nor a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. This was included in the July 2016 ruling of the United Nations-backed tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Pag-asa Islands, on the other hand, is the second largest island in the Spratly Group and is entitled to territorial waters and an exclusive economic zone. The island is part of the province of Palawan.

“Therefore, the Philippines has all the rights to patrol the territorial waters of Pag-asa Island which include the three sandbars located just two to five nautical miles away from it,” Alejano said.

RELATED: Alejano: Chinese flag planted near Philippines-controlled island

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/10/05/1745508/chinese-applying-new-tactic-near-pag-asa-says-alejano

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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.

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China Navy Ships Depart for Joint Drills With Russia

September 14, 2017

BEIJING — Four Chinese navy ships have departed for joint drills with Russia in the latest sign of growing cooperation between the two militaries that could challenge the U.S. armed forces’ role in the Asia-Pacific.

A destroyer, missile frigate, supply ship and submarine rescue ship departed Wednesday from the port of Qingdao, home to China’s north sea fleet, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The drills are being held in the Sea of Japan near the Korean Peninsula and the Sea of Okhotsk off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Xinhua said.

The exercises are the second stage of an annual joint drill, the first part of which was held July 22-27 in the Baltic Sea — the first time the countries had exercised together in the northern European waterbody.

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Chinese and Russian destroyers take part in a previous joint exercise in 2014 / AP

Russia and China are closely aligned on many diplomatic and security issues, with both countries calling for a negotiated settlement of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, preceded by North Korea suspending its nuclear and missile activities in return for the U.S. and South Korea halting their regular large-scale wargames.

July’s joint drills in the Baltic stirred concern among countries in the region, where tensions are already high over increased displays of military force by both Moscow and NATO.

Both Russia and China say the exercises are not directed at any third parties.

The Chinese ships taking part in the exercises are among the country’s most advanced, components of a growing fleet that poses a significant challenge to the U.S. Navy’s traditional dominance in the Asia-Pacific. Beijing has long chafed at the American presence and is a strong critic of its alliances with Japan, Australia and other countries in the region.

China already has the world’s largest navy, with slightly over 300 vessels, compared to the U.S. Navy’s 277 “deployable battle force ships,” according to the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence forecasts it will have 313-342 warships by 2020.

While China’s ships are technologically inferior to those of the U.S. Navy, their sheer numbers allow China a significant presence on the open sea, institute professor Andrew S. Erickson wrote in a recent study.

South China Sea: Philippine Foreign Minister Defends Chinese Presence in Philippine Waters — Urges mutual trust with Beijing

August 16, 2017
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano gestures during a news conference following the conclusion of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings Tuesday Aug. 8, 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat justified the reported presence of Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island in Palawan, stressing that the country should develop mutual trust with Beijing.

Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo earlier said that China has deployed two frigates, one Coast Guard vessel and two large fishing vessels one to three nautical miles north of Pag-asa Island.

READ: China ships massing near Pag-asa sandbars?

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Pag-asa, a fifth class municipality in Palawan, is the second biggest island in the Spratly Islands next to the Taiwanese-occupied Itu Aba.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that China should not be regarded as an enemy.

“Why were we not concerned about the US doing freedom of navigation, ang lalaki ng ships nila. You know why? Kasi they’re our allies so if we keep looking at China as the enemy, every time na may movement sila masyado tayong nag-re-react,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano added that the Philippines should instead ask China for an explanation regarding their presence instead of being alarmed.

On the other hand, Alejano called on the Duterte administration to ask China to order their ships away from Pag-asa Island and file a diplomatic protest against China.

“I call on the Philippine government officials to be transparent in what is happening in West Philippine Sea. We must assert our rights in the midst of talks with China,” Alejano said.

The foreign ministers of the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, under the leadership of Cayetano, earlier released a joint communique emphasizing the importance of self-restraint and non-militarization in the conduct of activities in the South China Sea.

Cayetano, however, admitted that he did not want to initially include “land reclamation” in the statement as Beijing supposedly stopped its land-filling activities in the region.

RELATED: Photos disprove China’s claim of halting land reclamation

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Chinese H-6 bomber

 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

 

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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 chose to ignore international law.

Japanese frogmen approached Chinese warship at Djibouti, state media say

August 2, 2017

The incident, if confirmed, would constitute a rare case of friction between Chinese and Japanese naval forces at a key port far from home

By Kinling Lo
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:27pm

A Japanese naval ship sent frogmen to approach a Chinese warship as both ships were docking at Djibouti in eastern Africa, Chinese state media reported.

The incident, if confirmed, would constitute a rare case of Chinese and Japanese naval forces having friction at a key geopolitical port far from their homes.

 The base of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force is pictured in Djibouti, East Africa. Photo: Felix Wong

China is quickly boosting its naval presence along the east Africa coast after officially opening the country’s first overseas naval base there on Tuesday. The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force established a base there in 2011 and Japan announced in 2016 that it was considering expanding its Djibouti base.

The incident was not reported by the Chinese or Japanese sides.

It was mentioned in a report on the website of China’s Procuratorial Daily, the official newspaper of the Supreme Procurator

ate. The report was about the experiences of a Chinese prosecutor, Jian Jiamin, who served as a legal counsellor with the PLA navy on duty in the vicinity of Africa for 208 days from December to this summer.

The report didn’t specify the time of the incident.

 A navy soldier of the People’s Liberation Army stands guard as Chinese citizens board the naval ship Linyi at a port in Aden. Photo: Reuter

According to the report, when Jian heard Japanese divers were approaching the Chinese warship, he immediately decided that Japan’s move was “dangerous” and against international law. He advised that the Chinese ship could take “necessary measures to stop [the encroachment] or even to exercise its self-defence rights”.

As a result, Jian organised Chinese soldiers to use a “strong light and verbal warning” to drive away the approaching Japanese divers, according to the report.

Jian also gathered evidence and reported the incident to local authorities in Djibouti to “disclose the inappropriate behaviour during the illegal operation by a Japanese warship at a third country’s port”.

 A general view of Port de Doraleh, Djibouti, East Africa. Photo: Felix Wong

The report came as China formally opened its first overseas military base with a flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday in the tiny former French colony in the Horn of Africa. The strategically localted Red Sea country is also home to the military bases of Japan, the United States and France.

Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries among China’s regional rivals such as Japan and India that Djibouti would become just another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

In October, Reuters reported that Japan leased additional land to expand its existing 12 hectare (30 acre) site in Djibouti to counter the Chinese influence in the region.

 Djibouti is China’s first overseas naval base – but Beijing has described it as a logistics facility. Photo: Reuters

At the same time, China is getting more active in the area. It recently offered to mediate in the lingering border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, showing Beijing’s growing ambitions and confidence.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2105024/japanese-frogmen-approached-chinese-warship-djibouti

China, Russia Demonstrate Global Military Might

August 1, 2017
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 The huge display of military hardware also featured 12,000 troops. Photo: Xinhua

China’s Xi Says Navy Should Become World Class

May 24, 2017

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country’s navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.

China’s navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.

With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.

Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should “aim for the top ranks in the world”, the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit.

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President Xi Jinping (centre), who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, pictured during his inspection of the PLA Navy headquarters, in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese Aircraft Carrier News — Comparing to US, UK, Indian aircraft carriers

April 24, 2017

By Julia Hollingsworth
South China Morning Post

Monday, April 24, 2017, 6:26pm

China building navy’s biggest amphibious assault vessel — “Like U.S. Wasp-class” — China more prepared for power projection missions

March 30, 2017

Ships will strengthen navy as Beijing makes more assertive claims to disputed waters in South China Sea and increases sea patrols amid strained ties with Taiwan

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 11:17am