Wednesday 27 May 2015

Sino-American conflict - 05/26/2015

Defense to offense: China unveils new military strategy to boost naval capability

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy guided missile destroyer Haikou (Reuters / Hugh Gentry)

26 May, 2015

China has unveiled a new defense strategy to boost its naval capability and said it will now shift from “territorial air defense” to both “defense and offense.” Beijing also slammed its neighbors for their “provocative actions” on its “reefs and islands.”

The white paper China’s military strategy was issued by the State Council on Tuesday, signaling ambitions for greater naval presence in the region where tensions are rising over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The [People's Liberation Army] Navy (PLAN) will gradually shift its focus from "offshore waters defense" to the combination of "offshore waters defense" with "open seas protection," and build a combined, multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure,” says the document.

The white paper says that Chinese navy will also “enhance its capabilities for strategic deterrence and counterattack, maritime maneuvers, joint operations at sea, comprehensive defense and comprehensive support.”

In the document Beijing also stresses that it will shift its focus from territorial air defense to both defense and offense.

The PLAAF will boost its capabilities for strategic early warning, air strike, air and missile defense, information countermeasures, airborne operations, strategic projection and comprehensive support.”

As tension are high in the region over disputed Spratly archipelago, China’s latest military white paper criticized its neighbors for their “provocative actions” on its ”reefs and islands.”

Spratly Islands are a disputed group of more than 750 reef, islets and islands in South China Sea. While China claims a vast majority of the sea, it still has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

On the issues concerning China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some of its offshore neighbors take provocative actions and reinforce their military presence on China's reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied,” Beijing said.

The document says that some “external” countries are also “busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China.”

Spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of National Defense Senior Colonel Yang Yujun holds a copy of the annual white paper on China's military strategy during a news conference in Beijing, China, May 26, 2015 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of National Defense Senior Colonel Yang Yujun holds a copy of the annual white paper on China's military strategy during a news conference in Beijing, China, May 26, 2015 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)Spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of National Defense Senior Colonel Yang Yujun holds a copy of the annual white paper on China's military strategy during a news conference in Beijing, China, May 26, 2015 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

US reconnaissance missions have led to increased tensions between Beijing and Washington as the latter continues to beef up its military presence in the Pacific.

On Monday, China lodged a complaint with the Washington over US spy aircraft which flew over the areas in the disputed South China Sea.

The islands also present concerns for US military. In March Washington accused Beijing of "unprecedented land reclamation," saying China is "creating a great wall of sand" over 4 sq km, in the disputed area in the South China Sea.

Washington is bolstering its own military presence in the region. US navy fleet commander Harris said the United States is currently preparing to shift 60 percent of its fleet to the Pacific by 2020.

Australia is also concerned about the situation. In 2014 it agreed with Japan to increase military cooperation and exercises as a hedge against China’s fast-growing military potential.

Chinese authorities insist their territorial claims have a historical basis and the US should not meddle in these disputes.

On Tuesday, China's Ministry of Transport hosted a ceremony for the construction of two lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on largely disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying described the construction as an “important measure to implement its corresponding international responsibilities and duties,” Reuters reports. She added that Beijing is planning to build more constructions on the disputed islands.

Asia Scholar Lays Out "Three Ways China And The US Could Go To War"

An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. (Reuters/Ritchie B. Tongo)

26 May, 2015

Yesterday, in a troubling oped posted in China's Global Times, a paper owned by the ruling Communist Party, China issued its loudest warning yet to the US to keep out of its affairs, in this case the various disputed territories in the South China Sea among them but not limited to China's artificial islands in the Spratly chain which have become a topic of contention between China and various US allies in the region, when it said that war was “inevitable” between China and the United States unless Washington stopped demanding Beijing halt the building of artificial islands in the disputed waterway.

We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it,” said The Global Times, which is among China’s most nationalist newspapers.

But is a military conflict, let alone an actual war, realistic in a world in which all political and diplomatic disagreements are solved either in the back room or using the capital markets?

According to Michael Auslin, a resident scholar and the director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he specializes in Asian regional security and political issues, the answer is yes. Auslin proposes that with Beijing and Washington both laying down "red lines" in the South China Sea, the two superpowers are maneuvering themselves into a potential conflict since neither would be willing to back down over fears of losing face or realpolitik clout.

Beijing has not yet declared a formal air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea, unlike the one it established over part of the East China Sea in 2013, nor could it today enforce such a zone effectively with its current fighters.
However, with its reclamation activities continuing, and the Obama Administration apparently having decided to challenge China’s claims, the US and China are now potentially closer to an armed encounter than at any time in the past 20 years.

In an article in The Commentator, he lays out the three real-world scenarios under which it could happen.

1) Accident: The US Navy is reportedly considering sending ships within 12 miles of the manmade islands, thereby entering into what China claims is now sovereign territory. With Chinese naval and maritime patrol vessels in the waters, intimidation or harassment of US ships could lead to a collision, with each side responding in turn.

This is what China has done to ships of other nations, and an accident could lead to a stand-off. In the air, the Spratlys lie about 800 miles from China’s shores, already within the combat radius of China’s most advanced fighter jet (though Beijing has yet to show that it can effectively oppose US air patrols).

More worrisome, China is building airstrips on its islands, and may soon be able to launch planes from them to patrol the skies. Similarly, once its aircraft carrier is operational with an air wing, it can easily patrol the area. Any of those developments would dramatically increase the chances of a mid-air collision, such as happened in 2001 between a Chinese fighter and a US Navy surveillance plane.

2) Premeditation: Beijing has staked its geopolitical reputation in Southeast Asia on its claims to the South China Sea and now the building of the islands, which already cover more than 2,000 acres. As I wrote in National Review last week, unless they decide to back down, and risk losing influence in Asia, China’s leaders may decide that stopping American incursion into their newly claimed waters early on is the best opportunity to make the risks to Washington seem too high.

Once Chinese airplanes are on the islands, then they may decide to shadow US planes and prevent them from flying in “restricted” skies, for the same reason, leaving the US to decide how far to respond. Thus, they may force a confrontation, to try and get the Obama Administration to back down from getting involved in another military situation while it is dealing with the Middle East and Ukraine.

3) Indirect Conflict: China may well judge that it is too risky to directly challenge US ships and planes, but that it can make the same point by intercepting those of other countries. Already, the Philippines has claimed that China warned off its surveillance planes, and China has had regular maritime run-ins with the Philippines and Vietnam.

It may decide to stop foreign ships from passing by its new islands, or it may soon try to escort less advanced foreign planes out the skies above its islands. A direct conflict between China and any of its neighbors would, at this point, have a good chance of bringing in the US, in order to credibly claim that it is upholding international law (and, in the case of the Philippines, coming to the aid of a treaty ally).

His conclusion:

Beijing and Washington are each laying down redlines in the South China Sea, making the upholding of their claims a priority. In this, they are maneuvering themselves into a potential conflict.
With no de-escalation mechanisms, and deep distrust on both sides, the more capable China becomes in defending its claimed territory, the more risks the US will face in challenging those claims.
That is why each is trying to define the boundaries and set the pattern of behavior before the other does. That may not ensure that there will be a military encounter, but it steadily raises the chances of one.

What Auslin ignored to note is that with the entire world gripped in secular stagnation, a "controlled" war may be just what the sputtering economic engines of the world's two largest economies need. The only question is how to assure any incipient conflict will remain "controlled."

China State Paper Warns of War Unless US Backs Down

Spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of National Defense Senior Colonel Yang Yujun holds a copy of the annual white paper on China's military strategy during a news conference in Beijing, China, May 26, 2015 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

By GMA News

Information Clearing House,
25 May, 2015

"GMA News" - BEIJING - A Chinese state-owned newspaper said  on Monday that "war is inevitable" between China and the United States over the South China Sea unless Washington stops demanding Beijing halt the building of artificial islands in the disputed waterway.

The Global Times, an influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper the People's Daily, said in an editorial that China was determined to finish its construction work, calling it the country's "most important bottom line."

The editorial comes amid rising tensions over China's land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea. China last week said it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a US spy plane flew over areas near the reefs, with both sides accusing each other of stoking instability.

China should "carefully prepare" for the possibility of a conflict with the United States, the newspaper said.

"If the United States' bottomline is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea," the newspaper said. "The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as 'friction'."

Such commentaries are not official policy statements, but are sometimes read as a reflection of government thinking. The Global Times is among China's most nationalist newspapers.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

The United States has routinely called on all claimants to halt reclamation in the Spratlys, but accuses China of carrying out work on a scale that far outstrips any other country.

Washington has also vowed to keep up air and sea patrols in the South China Sea amid concerns among security experts that China might impose air and sea restrictions in the Spratlys once it completes work on its seven artificial islands.

China has said it had every right to set up an Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea but that current conditions did not warrant one.

The Global Times said "risks are still under control" if Washington takes into account China's peaceful rise.

"We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it," the newspaper said. —Reuters

See also -

Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dispute: The Philippines is seeking a "stronger commitment" from the United States to help its ally, the defense minister said on Monday, as China asserts its sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea.

For the first time the PRC publishes a white paper on China’s Military Strategy

Sr. Col. Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), briefs on China’s first white paper on military strategy and answers reporters’ questions on May 26, 2015. The State Council Information Office of the PRC published a white paper on China’s Military Strategy in Beijing on Tuesday

BEIJING, May 26 (Xinhua) — The Information Office of the State Council on Tuesday published a white paper on China’s military strategy.

For the full text GO HERE

The US continues to push its allies to take a larger role in patrolling the waters of the Pacific. To that end, the United States and Australia have brought Japan into its regular war games, a move signaling a renewed front against a perceived Chinese threat.

Conducted every other year, the Talisman Sabre is a joint military exercise conducted in July between Washington and Canberra involving nearly 30,000 troops. Held largely in the waters off Australia, but also on land, the drills include special forces tactics, maritime operations, amphibious landings, and urban warfare.

While New Zealand will contribute 500 troops, this year’s drills will also include, for the first time ever, the cooperation of the Japanese military, which will send 40 officers and soldiers.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye will meet US President Barack Obama on June 16 in Washington, DC to discuss the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, White House said in a statement.

The two leaders will also exchange views on economic and global issues as well as cooperation in environment, health and cybersecurity, according to the White House

As the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to amend the country’s US-drafted constitution, granting the Tokyo’s military the power to wage war, some fear the return of old imperialistic tendencies.

Japan is ready to change its post-war pacifist constitution; it is rapidly arming itself to the teeth, building battleships and purchasing fighter jets. Recruitment posters are everywhere. Meanwhile, Japan is standing - obediently and loyally - by its occupier and closest ally, the United States.

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