How long can Beijing and Washington handle their relationship?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    How long can Beijing and Washington handle their relationship?

    Tom Friedman has a pretty good column today on the future of Sino-American relations, in effect warning that unruly nationalism in China could spell trouble down the road. Money quotation:

    The days when Nixon and Mao could manage this relationship in secret are long gone. There are a lot of unstable chemicals at work out here today, and so many more players with the power to inflame or calm U.S.-China relations.

    A Sino-American Cold War is not inevitable, perhaps, and it is easy to think of reasons why the two largest economies (and over time, two most significant military powers) might manage to keep their competition within safe bounds. Optimists invoke the usual liberal antidotes to conflict: the growing economic ties between the two countries, China's "socialization" into existing institutions, and the possibility that China will one day become a democracy. Or one may hope that Beijing will realize that overly assertive behavior will quickly provoke balancing behavior by China's neighbors (moving them to align more closely with each other and with the United States), thereby leaving China isolated and worse off overall. And if the United States manages to extricate itself from its Iraqi and Afghan morasses and devotes more attention on Asia, then there might be even less chance of a Sino-American train wreck down the road.

    But here's why I'm less optimistic. Assuming China continues to grow economically, it will also increase its military power and thus its capacity to threaten certain U.S. interests. Like any great power, it will tend to view its own "vital interests" more expansively as its power rises, and it will want to do what it can to ensure that others cannot threaten those interests. For example, a rising China that is increasingly dependent on overseas resources and markets will naturally want to make it harder for others to threaten these vital sea lines of communication. To be concerned by these things is not a sign of aggressive expansionism; it is just typical great power behavior. And given that U.S. leaders think they have "vital interest" in virtually every part of the globe, this sort of behavior ought to be easy for Americans to recognize.

    Now, if one also assumes that both the United States and China will always be governed by mature, far-sighted, and sensible politicians who won't succumb to xenophobia or threat-mongering, won't be swayed by narrow interest groups, won't let propaganda from self-interested allies warp their judgment, and who will manage each and every crisis with restraint and aplomb, then one might easily conclude that any future rivalry will remain fairly muted.

    But if one assumes that occasionally an impulsive, weak, or rambunctious leader will come to power in one of the two countries, or that either state's foreign policy apparatus might at some point be overly influenced by people with more dangerous agendas, or that at some point one of the two will hit a rough patch and tempt the other to seize an advantage, then you'd obviously be more concerned about trouble down the road. And what if this happened in both countries simultaneously?

    Now: based on what you know about these two countries, which assumption do you think is more reasonable? Based on past history, I think its safe to assume that sooner or later one side or the other is going to do something stupid. Friedman is clearly worried about social forces in China that might make conflict more likely; I'm also worried about the judgment of people at the top and some of the social forces here at home. And not just today, but for a long time into the future.

    Obligatory IR Theory footnote: the discussion above in effect combines a structural realist analysis with a sensitivity to the impact of domestic politics. Structural theory tells you why a rising China creates greater potential for security competition between Washington and Beijing: in the bipolar world that a rising China is gradually creating, the two most powerful states will naturally eye each other warily. But structure alone doesn't make intense conflict (let alone all-out war) inevitable. That will be determined, at least in part, by how well each country's foreign policy apparatus manages things. But note that "managing" doesn't just mean accommodation: it will also require displays of resolve and a careful drawing of "red lines," which also creates the possibility of misunderstanding and miscalculation. And don't forget: If this emerging bipolarity lasts a long time, the challenge lies in managing relations not just for a year or two, but for many decades. Based on what I know about each country's foreign policy establishment, it's hard for me to believe that one (or both) won't blow it sooner or later and lead us into a serious security competition.
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Chess on the High Seas

    The Obama administration's hopes that its warmer approach to Beijing would yield a more fruitful Sino-American relationship have been disappointed. Rather than adopting a more cooperative bearing, Beijing has become increasingly assertive over the past year. Recognizing the resulting detriment to U.S. interests and Asia-Pacific peace and security, the Obama administration is now pushing back. This new direction may convince Beijing to reconsider its recent assertive policies, but for now, the United States and China have entered a period of tense relations, raising the odds of a true crisis. Particularly worrisome is Chinese media coverage of this summer's quarrels, which has been nationalistic and anti-American in tone and content. Such coverage makes conflicts more difficult to resolve, as the Chinese regime cannot afford to look weak in the eyes of an incensed citizenry. Policymakers in both countries should be aware of this dynamic as they approach any additional disputes in the coming months.

    Key points in this Outlook:

    The United States and China have clashed over maritime exercises, with Beijing opposed to Washington asserting its right to exercise in international waters.
    The Chinese media responded with a stream of nationalistic, anti-American reporting--portraying the United States as an imperial power.
    Despite China's confidence, there are signs of internal weakness in the People's Republic, with social unrest on the rise
    The United States should prepare diplomati cally and militarily for a potential crisis.

    Beijing opposed Washington on a number of fronts in recent months. China's response to the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan--essentially siding with the North Koreans--was not encouraging. After the international team investigating the sinking announced on May 20 that a North Korean submarine had indeed been responsible, China refused to accept the report's conclusions and instead simply "noted the investigation results."[1] China then proceeded to block efforts by South Korea (ROK), which the United States supported, to have the United Nations Security Council adopt a resolution. Instead, China only agreed to a watered-down presidential statement, which did not condemn or even place blame on North Korea. Chinese news coverage of the Cheonan sinking was no better. The Harbin Daily reported that "the investigative process and results are suspicious. In recent years, both sides of the peninsula have at times attacked each other."[2]

    But perhaps more concerning to U.S. officials than China's refusal to censure Pyongyang was Beijing's attempt to dictate the location and character of combined U.S.-ROK military exercises. When it was reported that the United States might send the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier, to the Yellow Sea to exercise, China reacted strongly. "China has expressed grave concern to relevant parties over the issue," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on July 8. "We firmly oppose foreign military vessels and planes' conducting activities in the Yellow Sea and China's coastal waters that undermine China's security interests."[3] This statement is indicative of China's new assertiveness: the George Washington had operated in the Yellow Sea as recently as last fall without any such Chinese objection.

    China matched its foreign ministry statements with a display of military muscle. In early July, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy held live-fire drills in the East China Sea. The drills, which involved frigates, submarine chasers, and minesweepers, showcased China's advanced missile fast-attack craft, which can attack covertly and at long ranges.[4] The Jamestown Foundation reports that "these ultra-fast catamarans are designed to fire cruise missiles at carriers in ‘hit-and-run' attacks."[5] The PLA followed this exercise with a military supply drill, code-named Warfare 2010, in the Yellow Sea later in the month. According to the English-language China Daily, "The drill was aimed at improving defense capabilities against long-distance attacks. . . . The exercise focused on transporting military supplies for future joint battles."[6] In both cases, Beijing denied any connection to the potential U.S.-ROK Yellow Sea exercises.

    Meanwhile, Beijing stirred up media criticisms of the exercises. Writing for the Southern Daily, the official Guangdong Province Communist Party newspaper, Shen Dingli, a prominent Chinese international relations scholar, issued a subtle threat to the United States on July 2:

    To say that U.S.-ROK exercises in the South China Sea constitute a threat to China might be an overstatement, but to deploy an aircraft carrier--a naval weapon with such strong power projection capabilities--to exercise near China's waters is absolutely not a friendly act. . . . China cannot feel especially happy about the U.S.-ROK exercises, but it need not necessarily feel nervous either. First, the U.S.-ROK exercises will not dare to enter China's exclusive economic zone. . . . Second, the PLA has a definite ability to defend itself and possesses the means to deal with foreign naval ships coming to attack us. Third, with each passing day, American and Chinese power are becoming more balanced, and China is developing even stronger offensive power.[7]
    Shen, who in another article compared the planned U.S.-ROK Yellow Sea exercises to the Soviet Union's attempt to position nuclear missiles on Cuba in 1962,[8] then explained the connection between Chinese East China Sea naval exercises and the U.S.-ROK combined exercises--while simultaneously asserting that no such connection existed. And for good measure, Shen issued a subtle warning to the Koreans as well:

    If, in the future, American aircraft carriers enter the Yellow Sea, I'm afraid South Korea will be less rather than more secure. Although China's East China Sea naval exercises are probably not directly related to U.S.-ROK naval exercises, they do send a message: China is determined not to allow any foreign operations to succeed that might threaten China.[9]
    In further arguing that Beijing should not echo Washington's "outmoded maritime imperialist policy" in competing with American "hegemonism,"[10] Shen sounds a familiar refrain by accusing the United States of neo imperialism. A June 28 opinion piece on the Southern Daily website expounds on this theme at length:

    American grand strategy has clearly unfolded before our eyes during these first ten years of the twenty-first century, as American troops have launched several wars in succession in order to seize and control energy sources, to protect the U.S. position of global leadership, and to protect U.S. global interests. In East Asia, the U.S. has already clearly classified China as a potential enemy; in recent years' U.S.-ROK and U.S.-Japan military exercises, China has naturally been the supposed enemy, and this is no secret. . . . The Chinese people are making all attempts to join hands with America, but Americans are, with smiling faces, injuring China by underhanded means.[11]
    Though the Department of Defense (DOD) decided not to hold the first post-Cheonan U.S.-ROK exercise (several are planned) in the Yellow Sea, it did issue a strongly worded response to the Chinese. China is "a regional power . . . whose opinion we respect and consider," said DOD spokesman Geoff Morrell at a press briefing on July 14. "But this is a matter of our ability to exercise in the open seas, in international waters. Those determinations are made by us, and us alone." He continued: "Where we exercise, when we exercise, with whom and how, using what assets and so forth, are determinations that are made by the United States Navy . . . by the Department of Defense, by the United States government."[12] And contrary to Chinese objections, the U.S.-ROK joint statement of July 20 promised that additional exercises would occur in the Yellow Sea.[13] A subsequent DOD statement indicated that the George Washington will join those exercises.[14]

    Anti-imperialist Rhetoric

    Following on the heels of the post-Cheonan dispute, Washington and Beijing are now involved in a diplomatic contretemps over the South China Sea. While China's claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea is nothing new, its strong assertion of that claim is. Earlier this year, Chinese officials explained to their American counterparts that Beijing considers sovereignty over the sea to be one of its "core interests," along with Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. As far as Beijing is concerned, its core interests are not to be interfered with by foreign powers.

    While attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Hanoi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the United States' intention to interfere. She proposed establishing a multilateral mechanism for negotiating a settlement of the region's territorial disputes. This proposal marked a change in direction for the United States, which has long remained aloof from the South China Sea disputes. Especially notable was the proposal's opposition to China's long-held and consistently stated position that it would only negotiate territorial disputes on a bilateral basis. With this proposal, the United States surprised China not only by inserting itself into the South China Sea disputes, but also by implicitly--if not explicitly--siding with the ASEAN states.

    Following her remarks at the forum, Clinton explained to the press that "the United States, like every nation, has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia's maritime commons, and respect for international law in the South China Sea." Clinton then enunciated the American position with respect to the disputes:

    While the United States does not take sides on the competing territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea, we believe claimants should pursue their territorial claims and accompany ing rights to maritime space in accordance with the UN convention on the law of the sea. Consistent with customary international law, legitimate claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features.[15]
    In other words, while Washington has no position on sovereignty claims to the sea's islands and atolls, it does not recognize Chinese claims to the entirety of the South China Sea, which are not "derived solely from legitimate claims to land features."

    The Chinese response was predictable. A report on the Chinese foreign ministry website noted that Clinton's "seemingly impartial remarks were in effect an attack on China and were designed to give the international community a wrong impression that the situation in the South China Sea is a cause for grave concern."[16] On July 30, according to a report on the Chinese defense ministry website, defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng insisted that "China had ‘indisputable sovereignty' over islands in the South China Sea and the surrounding waters."[17]

    Just as they had in the run-up to the U.S.-ROK exercises, the Chinese media quickly spoke out on the South China Sea issue. Xinhua, China's official news agency, played up the anti-imperialist rhetoric in its reporting on the diplomatic standoff. In a July 27 editorial, two staff writers explained U.S. intentions:

    In the 19th century, the British empire adopted the tactics of "divide and rule" to fight powers in the European continent. Nowadays, the United States is resorting to the same old trick when dealing with some disputes and conflicts in the international arena. By claiming U.S. national interests in the South China Sea, Washington intends to expand its involvement in an ocean area tens of thousands of miles away from America. Obviously, Washington's strategy is to play the old trick again in the South China Sea, in its bid to maintain America's "long-held sway" in the western Pacific Ocean.[18]
    The writers then provided some advice to their neighbors in Southeast Asia: "Asian countries should display wisdom in resolving the issue through direct friendly consultations, and should be on guard against being used as a chess piece paving the way for outside involvement."[19]

    The Global Times, one of China's more hawkish newspapers, warned the ASEAN states in a similar fashion:

    Historical experience demonstrates that when a region becomes the front line for a game of chess or the site of a seesaw battle between great powers, the only ones sacrificed are the small countries in the middle. . . . The other South China Sea countries should be clear: if they let the South China Sea situation worsen, none of them will be able to bear the consequences as well as China will.[20]

    Beyond intimidating the ASEAN states, these warnings assure the Chinese population that the troubles in the South China Sea emerged through no fault of Beijing's. Once again, China is the victim, preyed upon by countries near and far.

    As with the Yellow Sea exercises, media coverage of the South China Sea dispute has evinced an anti-imperialist bent. In fact, a Global Times article quotes Shen as arguing that the Yellow Sea and South China Sea flare-ups are connected: "America viewed Chinese opposition to Yellow Sea exercises as a challenge to its maritime hegemony, and has consequently adopted this approach to the South China Sea in order to thwart China's maritime claims. This is also to warn China not to challenge the U.S.-led maritime order."[21]

    In a July 28 "Exclusive Military Report," the Global Times expanded on this theme:

    America's primary interest in the South China Sea is to make that body of water an arena for American hegemony. . . . The greater the trouble between China and South China Sea countries, the easier it will be for America to contain China's rise. . . . All empires lack the strength to directly control the whole world; they always want to manufacture regional conflicts and thus amplify their control. Washington wants to reenact this old play in Southeast Asia, and is now waiting to see whether anyone will fall into its trap.[22]

    In short, during the two most recent U.S.-China spats, the Chinese media provided a stream of nationalistic, anti-American, and anti-imperialist reporting, designed to stir up nationalistic and anti-American sentiment. The United States, the rhetoric goes, is no different from the European and Japanese imperial powers that exploited Asian countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; sooner or later, Beijing will stop Washington's meddling, by force if necessary.

    Weak China, Strong China
    Why have the Chinese felt so comfortable ramping things up recently? As noted earlier, U.S. policy during the first year of the Obama administration opened the door to more assertive Chinese behavior. Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg explained the new policy, "strategic reassurance," in a September 2009 speech at the Center for a New American Security:

    Strategic reassurance rests on a core, if tacit, bargain. Just as we and our allies must make clear that we are prepared to welcome China's "arrival" . . . as a prosperous and successful power, China must reassure the rest of the world that its development and growing global role will not come at the expense of [the] security and well-being of others.[23]

    Washington tried to do its part to reassure China. Clinton announced that the United States and China should not allow concerns about human rights to interfere with the relationship. President Barack Obama delayed meeting with the Dalai Lama; when the two finally did meet, the president did not show the Tibetan spiritual leader the same respect as his predecessors had. The president's November 2009 trip to China was also aimed at reassuring Beijing. He did not object when the Chinese censored his town-hall-style forum, and in the joint statement that resulted from the trip, Obama acquiesced to Hu Jintao in the language on both Taiwan and India. This year, arms sales to Taiwan did not include what Taipei needed most--new F-16s--and the White House held back the annual DOD report on China's military power for months, for fear that publicizing certain information on PLA modernization would be too provocative.

    In short, Beijing has seen a Washington that is willing to make concessions without expecting anything substantial in return. At the same time, the relative economic performance of the two countries during and following the international financial crisis--with China weathering the storm much better than the United States--convinced China that its political and economic systems are superior and that the United States is on the decline. And beyond that, oft-stated concerns within the United States that China owns too much American debt may have convinced Chinese policymakers that Washington is in fact beholden to an ascendant Beijing. Small wonder, then, that China variously opposed the United States at Copenhagen, at the Security Council, and in the Yellow and South China seas. China has not held up its end of the deputy secretary of state's "tacit bargain."

    Yet, as confident as China is externally, there are some growing signs of internal weakness--a potentially dangerous combination. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) no longer relies on communism for its legitimacy; Marxism is a thing of the past. The regime instead derives legitimacy from appeals to nationalism and from its success in building a stronger, economically vibrant China. Because of ever-present concerns about public perception of its legitimacy, the central government cannot afford to appear weak when dealing with Washington.

    And these concerns have been mounting. In 1993, there were 8,700 instances of social unrest in China. This number rose to 40,000 in 2000, to 87,000 in 2005, and to 230,000 in 2009. Social unrest in 2005 may have involved as many as 5 million participants; 40 to 50 percent of the incidents in 2005 occurred in the countryside, the spawning ground of the last Chinese revolution.[24]

    Civil disturbances occurred for a variety of reasons, from labor disputes to economic degradation, from official corruption to the lack of democratic institutions. These disturbances have not been taken lightly.[25] "By the end of the 1990s," argues Kathy Le Mons Walker, a historian of modern China, "the mounting frequency and militancy of the protests and risings prompted the central leadership to acknowledge its growing lack of credibility and to state publicly that the social unrest in the countryside was threatening it rule."[26] This is to say nothing of the recent unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang, regions where Beijing has largely failed to convince non-Han populations of the legitimacy of its rule.

    The Chinese population, then, is not the docile citizenry it is sometimes portrayed to be. To deal with these disturb ances, the regime has focused its efforts not only on addressing concerns and suppressing vocal resistance, but also on redirecting the anger of a piqued populace toward more acceptable targets. This generally means the Japanese: in 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, the airwaves were filled with anti-Japanese documentaries, and the government tolerated anti-Japanese riots. But the regime can also direct anger at the United States or the West as a whole. The CCP presents itself as having delivered China from Japanese and Western subjugation and as continuing to protect the People's Republic from future imperial depredations.

    This self-portrayal has become increasingly important as concerns for the Chinese economy mount. While China survived the international financial crisis relatively unscathed--and gained greater confidence as it watched free-market economies struggle--its future economic growth is no sure thing. The Chinese government appears to target an annual economic growth rate of 10 percent, claiming that a high rate of growth "is needed to absorb new labor market entrants" (that is, avoid domestic unrest). But during the latter half of 2008, when economic growth slowed to 6.5 percent, "Chinese media reported 20 million lost jobs among migrant workers alone." To paraphrase economist Derek Scissors: if, in the Chinese economic model, 6.5 percent growth means over 20 million lost jobs, something must be wrong with the model.[27]

    There is, moreover, a growing consensus that a housing bubble exists in China and that it is getting ready to pop. Beijing is aware of this risk and has been manipulating the economy in hopes of assuring a soft landing. But should real estate values plummet, the resulting economic dislocation could be severe: the central government has no experience dealing with a true domestic economic crisis, and its ability to deftly navigate such straits is in doubt. Even as Beijing works to forestall such an outcome (and recent data suggest that the economic planners might be succeeding), the CCP may increasingly emphasize the one leg of its legitimacy over which it has the most control: its nationalistic credentials.

    A Coming Crisis?

    As discussed, the Communist regime's increasing assertiveness in recent months has been matched by state-sanctioned, somewhat jingoistic media coverage. This type of coverage makes what is already a tense environment potentially explosive. The government's use of the media to paint a picture of an aggressive United States out to get China may limit Beijing's freedom of action in the event of a crisis. And if the Chinese economy does stumble, the CCP may find it necessary to play up external threats to ensure its survival at home.

    Though U.S.-China ties tensed during the summer, the relationship's underlying fundamentals--economic interdependence and the desire to avoid conflict--remain strong. Last year, U.S.-China trade was valued at $366 billion; in 2009, the United States was China's top trading partner, while China was America's second largest.[28] The United States is one of China's most important sources of foreign direct investment.[29] And of course, China is the largest foreign holder of American debt, owning $843.7 billion in U.S. Treasury securities.[30] Leaders in both capitals recognize that their countries would have much to lose from a Sino-American conflict.

    But times are ripe for a crisis that could truly strain Sino-American relations. An incident akin to the 1999 Chinese embassy bombing, when American B-2 bombers accidentally bombed China's embassy in Belgrade during the NATO Yugoslavia campaign, or the 2001 Hainan incident, when a U.S. EP-3 spy plane collided with a Chinese J-8 fighter and made an emergency landing on Hainan, would be particularly difficult to manage right now. Considering the reported exchange of gunfire between Chinese and ASEAN navies in the South China Sea in recent months, recent Chinese naval and air drills in the Yellow, East China, and South China seas, additional upcoming U.S.-ROK exercises around the Korean peninsula, and ongoing U.S. surveillance operations off China's coastline, the potential for an accident at sea or in the air is greater than usual.

    If Beijing is not quick to control the messaging following such an accident--difficult given potentially differing PLA and foreign-ministry interests--the government may find itself reacting to public opinion rather than shaping it. And a populace that has been fed a diet of anti-American propaganda will conclude that any accident involving Chinese loss of life or equipment was a willful U.S. action intended to contain or "hold down" the People's Republic.

    In managing such a crisis, China's leaders would be careful not to give the impression that they are backing down to the United States; with a Chinese leadership pressured to act defiantly, there is the potential for rapid escalation of tensions. With more room to maneuver and armed with an understanding of the political dynamic in China, Washington should be able to tolerate tough Chinese talk while providing Beijing with an opportunity to resolve the situation without losing face at home.

    Still, the courses of such crises are difficult to predict. The 1999 Belgrade embassy bombing, which followed months of Chinese media condemnations of the NATO campaign in Yugoslavia, led to anti-U.S. and anti-NATO rioting in China. The U.S. embassy as well as American consular buildings throughout China were damaged, and Ambassador James Sasser and his staff were trapped in the embassy for a number of days. In 2001, the EP-3's emergency landing on Hainan led to the eleven-day detention and interrogation of the American crew and an intelligence coup for the Chinese.

    The PLA in 2010 is a much more capable force than it was just a decade ago, and a more confident one. Growing numbers of Chinese officers are eager to test their mettle and put their new tools to use. In the event of a crisis, an angry citizenry in combination with an increasingly assertive PLA and a possibly faltering economy might make for a new and different political dynamic within China, one in which the CCP feels pressured to burnish its nationalist credentials. One hopes that the leadership in Beijing is ca pable of responsibly navigating a crisis in the face of such a dynamic. The United States would do well to prepare--diplomatically and militarily--should that not be the case.

    Michael Mazza ([email protected]) is a senior research associate at AEI.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Detecting subtle shifts in the balance of power

    Subtle shifts in the balance of power are difficult to detect yet of foremost importance to peace and stability. And even if detected in a timely fashion, policymakers can be slow to react. But maintaining a balance of power favorable to one's interests is one of a president's key tasks. On that score, our leaders have been negligent for over a decade.

    Occasionally, presidents detect shifts in the military balance when it is too late and then compound the problem by responding with questionable policy choices. For example, President Eisenhower's policy of massive retaliation was, in part, a response to what seemed to be a loss of the U.S nuclear monopoly and Soviet conventional supremacy in continental Europe. (Eisenhower also wanted to maintain U.S superiority on the cheap -- by cutting Truman's conventional defense build-up).

    A policy of responding with a nuclear attack to Soviet aggression anywhere did not seem very prudent to many at the time, but at least the president took the perceived shift in the balance of power seriously. Some of President Nixon and Carter's questionable arms control ideas were a response to a shift in the strategic balance in favor of the Soviets. Unfortunately, most of the time, policymakers do not react to an adversary's growing capabilities until met with disaster (e.g. Pearl Harbor, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 9/11).

    Today the balance of power in Asia is shifting. Since the end of World War II, Washington has kept the peace in Asia through its forward presence of military forces and its uncontested ability to project force into the region. Take an example from just 14 years ago. Realizing how destabilizing were China's missile tests conducted in the waters around Taiwan, President Clinton sent carrier battle groups near the Taiwan Strait. The missile tests stopped, Taiwan held its elections, and conflict was avoided.

    Today, any president would think twice about doing the same. Why? China has arguably gained conventional supremacy around its periphery. Without remediation this could become a hard fact. China's growing short-range missile arsenal (maybe up to 1,500) and fleet of modern aircraft could not only be used to destroy much of Taiwan, but could also be used to strike devastating blows against U.S. forces in Japan. Together with its fast-growing submarine fleet, the Chinese missile force will, within the next decade, be able to cause serious harm to U.S. carriers steaming into the region.

    Beijing has been focused like a laser beam on how to coerce and intimidate Taiwan while deterring U.S. and Japanese intervention. Washington has not given the same attention to defense. Our shipbuilding program has atrophied, our ability to protect the bases from which our aircraft fly is non-existent, and there is nothing in the current navy or air force programs of record that demonstrate our attentiveness to this problem.

    As a country, we have become so accustomed to projecting air and sea power with impunity anywhere in the world that the idea that our aircraft could be shot down or surface ships sunk seems like science fiction. But China has been studying how to undermine the way we do battle for decades, and its efforts are bearing fruit.

    A president choosing to respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan would now face a host of bad options, most of which are dangerously escalatory. If U.S. forces or those of an ally were attacked, Washington could eventually bring its superior power to bear from other theaters of conflict, but it would take time, and, as shown both in the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment's AirSea Battle and in RAND's A Question of Balance, would probably require hitting military targets in China itself. Considering China's growing conventional superiority, a president's response to a devastating blow by the Chinese against U.S., Japanese, and Taiwanese assets may, by necessity, be highly escalatory.

    The good news is that it is not too late to restore some stability to the equation. The United States is a far richer and more stable nation than China. With marginal adjustments in how we spend our finite tax-payer dollars, we can restore a favorable conventional balance in the Pacific that would lessen Chinese temptations to use force and provide us with more strategically stable defensive options should Beijing succumb to those temptations. We seek a cooperative relationship with China, which makes it difficult to think about the unthinkable -- a conflict with China. But a conflict with the United States is just about all the PLA thinks about, and for the sake of peace we must take them seriously.
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Why China’s Navy is a Threat

    Sceptics downplaying China's growing maritime strength are making a mistake. South-east Asian policymakers should ignore them.

    Civilian academics who study military affairs like to hold forth on tactical matters. But this can lead to misguided advice. Exhibit A: Prof. Bernard Loo of Singapore's Rajaratnam School of International Relations recently maintained that there's 'less than meets the eye' to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) combat reach in South-east Asia. Now, he insists, 'is not the time to press the panic button.'

    This upbeat appraisal rests on several flimsy assumptions and claims. If they heed Loo's advice, South-east Asian governments that can ill afford complacency will seriously misjudge the Chinese maritime challenge. They need not panic, but they must cope with China's waxing naval might—starting now.

    First of all, Loo deprecates 'an alleged aircraft carrier-killing cruise missile,' suggesting a sea-skimming anti-ship missile with a range of a few score miles. But the anti-ship missile that vexes China-watchers is an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), a weapon whose range, speed and hitting power dwarf that of any cruise missile. Estimates vary, but should the PLA perfect its ASBM, Chinese racketeers could pound away at ships underway up to 2,000 miles away.

    What would this mean? It means that PLA forces could range the entire South China Sea from mobile launchers positioned on Hainan Island or elsewhere along the South China coast. Loo counsels Southeast Asian navies to simply wait out a Chinese Navy that lacks a robust logistics fleet. But if PLA forces can use land-based weaponry to sink ships in port or cruising the South China Sea, then this amounts to a strategy of defeat and destruction.

    But sea power is anyway about more than the fleet. Even if the PLA Navy proves unable to mount a continuous presence in the South China Sea—an assumption growing more doubtful by the day—systems able to influence events at sea from the land provide continuous virtual presence throughout the spectrum of conflict, from peacetime to wartime. This versatility explains the emphasis Chinese strategists now place on extended-range shore-based weaponry.

    Next, Loo claims that navies typically follow a three-phase tactical training and deployment cycle. This means one-third of the fleet is deployed at any given time, another third is refitting and unavailable for sea service and the remaining third is working up for deployment. From this Loo concludes that estimates of Chinese naval power wildly overstate the numbers of ships and aircraft available to Beijing at any given time.

    There are two problems with this. For one, the 3:1 ratio isn't an iron law of naval operations but a rule of thumb derived from standard US Navy practice. But the US Navy, today's only global navy, is encumbered with commitments far more demanding than those confronting any regional fleet. As a result, American warships incur far greater wear-and-tear in the course of their duties. That requires frequent shipyard periods to refit.Civilian academics who study military affairs like to hold forth on tactical matters. But this can lead to misguided advice. Exhibit A: Prof. Bernard Loo of Singapore's Rajaratnam School of International Relations recently maintained that there's 'less than meets the eye' to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) combat reach in South-east Asia. Now, he insists, 'is not the time to press the panic button.'

    This upbeat appraisal rests on several flimsy assumptions and claims. If they heed Loo's advice, South-east Asian governments that can ill afford complacency will seriously misjudge the Chinese maritime challenge. They need not panic, but they must cope with China's waxing naval might—starting now.

    First of all, Loo deprecates 'an alleged aircraft carrier-killing cruise missile,' suggesting a sea-skimming anti-ship missile with a range of a few score miles. But the anti-ship missile that vexes China-watchers is an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), a weapon whose range, speed and hitting power dwarf that of any cruise missile. Estimates vary, but should the PLA perfect its ASBM, Chinese racketeers could pound away at ships underway up to 2,000 miles away.

    What would this mean? It means that PLA forces could range the entire South China Sea from mobile launchers positioned on Hainan Island or elsewhere along the South China coast. Loo counsels Southeast Asian navies to simply wait out a Chinese Navy that lacks a robust logistics fleet. But if PLA forces can use land-based weaponry to sink ships in port or cruising the South China Sea, then this amounts to a strategy of defeat and destruction.

    But sea power is anyway about more than the fleet. Even if the PLA Navy proves unable to mount a continuous presence in the South China Sea—an assumption growing more doubtful by the day—systems able to influence events at sea from the land provide continuous virtual presence throughout the spectrum of conflict, from peacetime to wartime. This versatility explains the emphasis Chinese strategists now place on extended-range shore-based weaponry.

    Next, Loo claims that navies typically follow a three-phase tactical training and deployment cycle. This means one-third of the fleet is deployed at any given time, another third is refitting and unavailable for sea service and the remaining third is working up for deployment. From this Loo concludes that estimates of Chinese naval power wildly overstate the numbers of ships and aircraft available to Beijing at any given time.

    There are two problems with this. For one, the 3:1 ratio isn't an iron law of naval operations but a rule of thumb derived from standard US Navy practice. But the US Navy, today's only global navy, is encumbered with commitments far more demanding than those confronting any regional fleet. As a result, American warships incur far greater wear-and-tear in the course of their duties. That requires frequent shipyard periods to refit.Civilian academics who study military affairs like to hold forth on tactical matters. But this can lead to misguided advice. Exhibit A: Prof. Bernard Loo of Singapore's Rajaratnam School of International Relations recently maintained that there's 'less than meets the eye' to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) combat reach in South-east Asia. Now, he insists, 'is not the time to press the panic button.'

    This upbeat appraisal rests on several flimsy assumptions and claims. If they heed Loo's advice, South-east Asian governments that can ill afford complacency will seriously misjudge the Chinese maritime challenge. They need not panic, but they must cope with China's waxing naval might—starting now.

    First of all, Loo deprecates 'an alleged aircraft carrier-killing cruise missile,' suggesting a sea-skimming anti-ship missile with a range of a few score miles. But the anti-ship missile that vexes China-watchers is an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), a weapon whose range, speed and hitting power dwarf that of any cruise missile. Estimates vary, but should the PLA perfect its ASBM, Chinese racketeers could pound away at ships underway up to 2,000 miles away.

    What would this mean? It means that PLA forces could range the entire South China Sea from mobile launchers positioned on Hainan Island or elsewhere along the South China coast. Loo counsels Southeast Asian navies to simply wait out a Chinese Navy that lacks a robust logistics fleet. But if PLA forces can use land-based weaponry to sink ships in port or cruising the South China Sea, then this amounts to a strategy of defeat and destruction.

    But sea power is anyway about more than the fleet. Even if the PLA Navy proves unable to mount a continuous presence in the South China Sea—an assumption growing more doubtful by the day—systems able to influence events at sea from the land provide continuous virtual presence throughout the spectrum of conflict, from peacetime to wartime. This versatility explains the emphasis Chinese strategists now place on extended-range shore-based weaponry.

    Next, Loo claims that navies typically follow a three-phase tactical training and deployment cycle. This means one-third of the fleet is deployed at any given time, another third is refitting and unavailable for sea service and the remaining third is working up for deployment. From this Loo concludes that estimates of Chinese naval power wildly overstate the numbers of ships and aircraft available to Beijing at any given time.

    There are two problems with this. For one, the 3:1 ratio isn't an iron law of naval operations but a rule of thumb derived from standard US Navy practice. But the US Navy, today's only global navy, is encumbered with commitments far more demanding than those confronting any regional fleet. As a result, American warships incur far greater wear-and-tear in the course of their duties. That requires frequent shipyard periods to refit.

    Navies like China's that mostly operate close to home can expect to have a bigger proportion of their fleet available at any particular moment. The maintenance burden is smaller and the time spent in port greater, allowing for generous overhaul time and crew rest.

    For another, even if the 3:1 rule did apply to all navies, far more than one-third of the fleet can be combat-ready at any moment. In 2004 the US Navy simultaneously deployed seven of its eleven aircraft-carrier strike groups for 'Operation Summer Pulse,' a massive exercise spanning five theaters across the globe. If the US fleet can overcome the rigors of extended deployments and upkeep, a Chinese Navy with more modest missions could probably do so as well.

    Bottom line: Prof. Loo takes maritime specialists to task for exaggerating PLAN force totals by a factor of three, but he understates available PLA Navy combat strength by half.

    Moreover, Loo seems to think the US Pacific Fleet can easily mass overwhelming strength in the South China Sea to beat back a Chinese naval offensive. At first glance this appears reasonable. The navy recently finished realigning its force posture, concentrating some 60 percent of its assets in the Pacific. But at 287 vessels, the US Navy is now smaller in raw numbers than before World War I, and it is dispersed across the globe discharging countless missions.

    This declining fleet must contend with a PLA Navy that has spent the last 15 years devising capabilities—of which the ASBM represents only one—aimed at exploiting US weaknesses in antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures and other niche areas. The result? Chinese mariners can now impose steep costs on the US Pacific Fleet, contesting its ability even to reach a theater of combat like the South China Sea—much less to wage war effectively once there.

    True, the PLA Navy exhibits weaknesses of its own such as at-sea refueling and rearming. It therefore behooves South-east Asian governments to start exploiting such vulnerabilities. Heaving a sigh of relief at China's supposed maritime weakness represents precisely the wrong approach. Government policymakers should beware of academics who purport to speak with authority on tactical and technical matters—drawing conclusions their experience and expertise does not support.

    James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara are associate professors of strategy at the US Naval War College and co-authors of Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to US Maritime Strategy. The views voiced here are theirs alone.
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China shouldn't stir up anti-Japanese sentiment

    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    China has taken a strikingly hard line over Japan's handling of the recent collisions of a Chinese fishing trawler with two Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

    China has protested five times to Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa over the arrest of the trawler's captain. China also unilaterally canceled talks on a pact covering joint gas field development in the East China Sea and a scheduled visit to Japan by Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

    In particular, the summons of Niwa by Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, a deputy prime minister-level official, in the middle of the night on a holiday flies in the face of diplomatic protocol.

    China's postponement of the gas field talks, which has no direct link with the ship collisions, is an overreaction. We strongly urge China to exercise self-restraint.

    Japan in the right

    The collisions occurred in Japanese waters off the Senkaku Islands, which are inherently Japanese. It is quite reasonable for Japan to deal with illegal activities in these waters in accordance with domestic law.

    China is mistaken if it thinks Japan will buckle to China's demands if it plays hardball.

    Since the 1970s, China has claimed the Senkaku Islands belong to China. It has instilled this belief among its people through "anti-Japanese patriotism" education since the 1990s.

    If Chinese people get the impression that their government is "weak-kneed," it could ignite simmering public discontent over the country's economic disparities and other ills, which could escalate into anger directed at the Chinese Communist Party leadership.

    This fear has apparently driven the Chinese government to take a high-handed stance toward Japan over the collisions. But we think Beijing is barking up the wrong tree.

    Online bulletin boards in China have been increasingly used to post extreme messages encouraging retaliatory attacks on Japan. Japanese living in China have been harassed, and small metallic balls were fired at a Japanese school building in Tianjin.

    Level heads needed

    The Japanese government on Monday sent members of the fishing boat crew, except for the captain, back to China, together with the vessel.

    We hoped China would applaud this attempt by the Japanese government to take some of the sting out of the situation. However, China has proclaimed the crew and vessel were returned "due to the united action taken by the Chinese government and its people." Beijing has used Japan's gesture to earn brownie points with the public.

    This will only inflame "anti-Japanese" sentiment among Chinese people. We urge the Chinese government to defuse such sentiment and prevent a recurrence of the 2005 "anti-Japanese riots."

    We also hope the Japanese side will continue to keep a level head. That being said, the government must not hesitate to refute inaccurate Chinese media reports, such as the claim that JCG patrol vessels "crashed into the fishing boat from behind."

    The JCG videotaped the fishing boat intentionally colliding with two patrol vessels. However, the JCG has not released the tapes because it might need to submit them as evidence in court should the incident become a criminal case.

    If it becomes apparent that the captain was at fault, it may soothe public anger in China. Perhaps making the videotape public would be one way to achieve this.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 16, 2010)
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Australia must act to help protect the Pacific from Chinese dominance

    The world is taking note of China’s claim that the country has “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea” and that the Yellow Sea is “pivotal to China’s core interests”. With such profound assertions made officially by government spokesmen – backed by a massive naval build up, the deployment of supposed “carrier killer” super missiles and aggressive tactics such as ramming and harassing foreign naval and coast guard ships in the South China Sea – demonstrate China’s apparent strategy to seize control of over a million square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

    While China seeks to dominate large swaths of the Pacific, the number of warships in the United States Navy – the world’s traditional guarantor of freedom of the seas – has declined significantly (the force only has 286 of its required 313 warships). Last month, while Hillary Clinton was in South Korea attempting to shore up U.S. influence in Asia, the Obama Administration undercut her by announcing that another eight American warships would be decommissioned. In attempting to do more with less around the world, and especially in the Pacific, the US must rely upon its allies’ assistance in keeping the sea lanes open and in protecting Western economies that are more dependent than ever on the shipment of goods and energy resources by sea.

    Two British aircraft carriers

    Great Britain is now building two advanced aircraft carriers in Scotland that are to be named the Queen Elizabeth class. These new carriers, scheduled for launch in 2015 and 2018, will be joint-service platforms, operating up to 50 aircraft, including the new F-35B fighter, a variety of helicopters and UAVs. The carriers will pack a powerful punch with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, force projection, logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine and anti-surface naval warfare and land attack capabilities.

    The arrival of such robust British carriers in the NATO Theatre would have allowed the US to redeploy key naval assets from the Atlantic and Mediterranean to the Pacific Command, where they are clearly needed. The new British government is, however, facing massive deficits and is instituting unprecedented cuts in domestic and defence spending. In fact, it is widely speculated that such cuts will doom one, if not both, of the new carriers. Efforts in Great Britain to save the carrier project include a proposal that Britain “share” the new carriers with France. Not surprisingly, the “floating Anglo-French condominium” proposal has received little support in either country.

    Assuming that the British defence cuts cannot be avoided, the US and UK should strongly encourage Australia to purchase one of the carriers for the Royal Australian Navy. Australia, with its booming commodity and agricultural exports, was largely unaffected by the global downturn. Australia has the resources to invest in its defence. Because its economy is export-driven, Australia, more than most nations, depends on the freedom of the seas to protect its economic welfare.

    In light of the growing Chinese naval threat to the Pacific and the steadily declining number of US warships in the region, Australia has shown its mettle by increasing the capability of its Navy in recent years. The RAN will soon take delivery of three air-warfare destroyers and two larger, flattop amphibious ships known as Landing Helicopter Docks, which will be fitted with helicopters and will be capable of carrying more than 1,000 troops.

    RAN sought an aircraft carrier

    In a 2008 White Paper dealing with its future, the RAN also sought an aircraft carrier, like the ships being built in the UK, to complete its fleet upgrade. At the time, the Australian government decided not to pursue a carrier purchase. Since then, circumstances have changed. Chinese plans to dominate the Pacific have become manifest, the US cut its carrier force from 11 to 10, when it decommissioned the John F. Kennedy, the Australian economy, driven by exports and shipping, withstood the global recession and the UK appears to have a new carrier on the market.

    Australia has a proud history of naval aviation and operating British-built carriers that dates back to World War II. Ironically, the last Australian aircraft carrier, the HMAS Melbourne, was sold to China in 1985. Since then, she has been studied by People’s Liberation Army Navy architects as part of China’s openly-secret aircraft carrier initiative. An Aussie carrier task force that included a Queen Elizabeth class carrier, as well as the RAN’s new amphibious ships, would be a formidable force patrolling the South Pacific that could protect the freedom of international sea lanes as well as democratic counties in the region.

    Australia has fought side by side with America in every conflict since World War I, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Royal Australian Navy is practically interoperable with the United States Navy. Unfortunately, since taking office, President Obama has twice cancelled State visits to our staunch ally Down Under. Rather than futilely extending his hand to North Korea and Iran and attempting to reset relations with our traditional adversaries and regional bullies, the President should travel to Canberra to thank the Australian people for standing with us in the war on terror and in defence of freedom. While there, he can ask them to continue Australia’s contribution to the safety of the Free World by adding a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier to their Navy.

    Robert C. O’Brien
    Robert C. O’Brien is the Managing Partner of the Los Angeles office of Arent Fox LLP. He served as a United States Representative to the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. His op ed pieces are available at Robert C. O'Brien - Op Ed Columns.
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Is Strategic Reassurance Working for You?

    One of the pillars of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy outlook was the “strategic reassurance” of China. Whereas the last president joined in partnership with Australia, India and Japan to counterbalance China’s mounting assertiveness in East Asia, Barack Obama understood that with the economies of the two countries so intertwined, the Sino-American relation would, in one way or another, come to dominate the twenty-first century. Since he took office however, China and the United States have hardly been as nice to one another as anticipated.

    Thomas Wright at The Diplomat points out how the “strategic reassurance” was pivotal to the multipolar world view as espoused by both the president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. This notion of a “concert of powers,” he writes, was “based on the underlying assumption that the world’s major powers ultimately share the same threats and interests—tackling terrorism and pandemics, ensuring economic instability, and preventing nuclear proliferation.”

    That was, and is, largely a sound assessment for outside of East Asia, America’s and China’s interests hardly ever collide. Rather as China’s economic leverage over the United States continues to deepen, their interests will further converge. Economic historian Niall Ferguson has dubbed this phenomenon “Chimerica,” or, “the partnership between the big saver and the big spender.” Neither is served by a disruption of that increasingly symbiotic relationship.

    Realizing that much, Obama’s Washington was gracious. It committed to cooperation on a wide array of issues and tried to avoid any steps that might upset the Middle Kingdom. But what was considered an accommodating policy by the administration was interpreted at least by some in Beijing as weakness.

    Wright believes that, instead of accepting full partnership, “China became far more antagonistic and assertive on the world stage.”

    It expanded its claims in the South China Sea, engaged in a major spat with Google over Internet freedom, played an obstructionist role at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, regularly and openly criticized US leadership, and, sought to water down sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme at the UN Security Council.

    Some in Washington are now supposed to believe that Beijing is expecting the end of American ascendancy and recognizing an opportunity for China to take advantage.

    No one seems able to explain just how China stands to profit from a weakened United States however. Too often, it is simply taken for granted that Beijing has far reaching designs for world domination but this completely overlooks the strong, almost desperate, longing for stability on the part of China’s leaders. They all too well remember a century of humiliation which didn’t really end until China emerged as as economic powerhouse in the 1990s.

    China has reclaimed a position of preeminence on the world stage and with it, prestige, much to the delight of the Chinese, but they are no superpower yet. The country can make no military nor moral claim to hegemony and, at least for the time being, it has no desire to. It would rather prosper under the safe umbrella of American might than undermine it.

    Yet like any state, China pursues its own interests before anything else. It will do so in the South China Sea and on the Korean Peninsula, especially when its policy there is driven by hardliners who do think of geopolitics as a zero-sum game. It will not allow anyone to dictate the pace of its inevitable democratization process and as such, it will censor Internet access if it feels it has to. And it will obstruct foreign efforts to curtail its growth in the name of environmentalism because it won’t pay the price for two centuries of Western pollution.

    It is much too soon to tell whether President Obama’s “strategic reassurance” of China is working or not. Anyone would be hard pressed to radically change the course of a significant bilateral relationship in under two years.

    At the same time, it’s important to take notice of minor Chinese grievances because rather than preliminary attempts at challenging American power, they’re likely evidence of China’s frustration with Washington’s lack of consistency.

    If indeed this administration intends to foster stable relations with Beijing for decades to come, it can’t afford any sort of needless tough guy posturing in China’s direct sphere of interest. Imagine the roles were reverse and it were the Chinese asserting that America can’t have an exclusive right to meddle in the Caribbean. Recognizing China as a greater power implies recognizing its right to dominate East Asia. If anything, it would “strategically reassure” Beijing.
  9. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Keeping a closer eye on China

    Over the weekend, the Taipei Times reported that the United States will soon begin operating high-altitude, long-endurance RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) out of Guam. When operational, these drones will monitor Chinese forces opposite the Taiwan Strait. Ultimately, they will replace the U-2 and RC-135 aircraft that conduct reconnaissance in the west Pacific.

    The Obama administration deserves credit for such efforts to keep a close eye on Chinese military modernization. Although the term "transformation" has fallen out of favor in Washington, it has not in Beijing. China is deploying a range of capabilities aimed at blunting U.S. military power in Asia, including the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, a large family of precision-guided ballistic missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and cyber warfare capabilities. As Jacqueline Newmyer writes in a thought-provoking article in the latest issue of The Journal of Strategic Studies, Chinese strategists believe that the so-called "revolution in military affairs" offers Beijing a historic opportunity to alter the military balance with the United States. Having concealed its military buildup for years, the Chinese leadership has become increasingly open and bellicose in discussing its ability to inflict damage on U.S. forces.

    The deployment of Global Hawks to Guam offers more than just an opportunity to monitor Chinese military deployments; it also holds with it the possibility of new methods to enhancing security and strengthening deterrence in Asia -- something that should appeal to an administration that has favored multilateral approaches. The United States' Asian allies are all concerned about Chinese military modernization, and about U.S. staying power in the face of a rising China. They are also interested in purchasing or developing high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs like the Global Hawk. The door would thus appear to be open for bold action: What if the United States spearheaded a multinational effort to field a constellation of high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs and share the data produced by their sensors to establish a common picture of the west Pacific? With some vision and bold action, U.S. drones could become the core of an Asian allied airborne reconnaissance network. Such a network could increase transparency in the region. Having many eyes watching the region could also represent a powerful deterrent to Chinese aggression, whether across the Taiwan Strait or in the South China Sea.

    The deployment of UAVs to Guam is a good move. With a bit of boldness and creativity, it could yield much more.
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China criticizes planned US-ASEAN statement on South China Sea

    By Christopher Bodeen (CP) – 1 day ago
    BEIJING, China — Beijing lashed out Tuesday at plans by the United States and Southeast Asian countries to issue a joint statement calling for the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying that would only complicate matters and sharpen differences.
    China claims sovereignty over the entire sea and all the island groups within it and regards any U.S. involvement in the disputes as unwelcome interference.
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said the disputes were a matter only for China and the countries directly involved. Countries without claims in the region should stay out, she said.
    "We are concerned about any kind of statement that might be issued by the U.S. and ASEAN over the South China Sea," Jiang said, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
    "Words or acts that play up tensions in the region and concoct conflicts and provocations in relations between countries in the region are against the common wish of the countries in the region to seek peace and development," Jiang said.
    Beijing issued similar complaints in July after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a regional security forum in Vietnam that the peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes was an American national interest.
    China was apparently caught off guard by the statement, which U.S. diplomats said was prompted by comments in March from a senior Chinese foreign policy adviser that Beijing now considered the South China Sea a "core interest" — a designation it reserves for highly sensitive sovereignty matters over which it would be willing to go to war.
    China is also opposed to negotiations on the matter with ASEAN as a whole, preferring to bring its overwhelming strength and influence to bear in bilateral talks with the other individual claimants.
    While taking no position on the conflicting sovereignty claims, the U.S. insists on unfettered access to one of the world's busiest commercial sea lanes.
    President Barack Obama will meet ASEAN leaders on Friday to discuss ways to bolster their alliance and discuss economic co-operation and security issues, including the South China Sea disputes.
    They will issue a joint statement where Washington has proposed text to reaffirm the importance of freedom of navigation, regional stability, respect for international law and unimpeded commerce in the South China Sea, according to a draft of the statement seen Sunday by The Associated Press.
    ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines also claim South China Sea island groups, which lie amid rich fishing areas and possibly huge oil and natural gas deposits. The contested islands straddle busy sea lanes that are a crucial conduit for oil and other resources fueling China's fast-expanding economy.
    China says it doesn't wish to restrict access to the region by other country's ships and planes, but has repeatedly interfered with U.S. Naval surveillance missions in the area, saying those were forbidden under international law.
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Last week Japan’s minister of finance declared that he and his colleagues wanted a discussion with China about the latter’s purchases of Japanese bonds, to “examine its intention” — diplomat-speak for “Stop it right now.” The news made me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration.You see, senior American policy figures have repeatedly balked at doing anything about Chinese currency manipulation, at least in part out of fear that the Chinese would stop buying our bonds. Yet in the current environment, Chinese purchases of our bonds don’t help us — they hurt us. The Japanese understand that. Why don’t we?

    Some background: If discussion of Chinese currency policy seems confusing, it’s only because many people don’t want to face up to the stark, simple reality — namely, that China is deliberately keeping its currency artificially weak.

    The consequences of this policy are also stark and simple: in effect, China is taxing imports while subsidizing exports, feeding a huge trade surplus. You may see claims that China’s trade surplus has nothing to do with its currency policy; if so, that would be a first in world economic history. An undervalued currency always promotes trade surpluses, and China is no different.

    And in a depressed world economy, any country running an artificial trade surplus is depriving other nations of much-needed sales and jobs. Again, anyone who asserts otherwise is claiming that China is somehow exempt from the economic logic that has always applied to everyone else.

    So what should we be doing? U.S. officials have tried to reason with their Chinese counterparts, arguing that a stronger currency would be in China’s own interest. They’re right about that: an undervalued currency promotes inflation, erodes the real wages of Chinese workers and squanders Chinese resources. But while currency manipulation is bad for China as a whole, it’s good for politically influential Chinese companies — many of them state-owned. And so the currency manipulation goes on.

    Time and again, U.S. officials have announced progress on the currency issue; each time, it turns out that they’ve been had. Back in June, Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, praised China’s announcement that it would move to a more flexible exchange rate. Since then, the renminbi has risen a grand total of 1, that’s right, 1 percent against the dollar — with much of the rise taking place in just the past few days, ahead of planned Congressional hearings on the currency issue. And since the dollar has fallen against other major currencies, China’s artificial cost advantage has actually increased.

    Clearly, nothing will happen until or unless the United States shows that it’s willing to do what it normally does when another country subsidizes its exports: impose a temporary tariff that offsets the subsidy. So why has such action never been on the table?

    One answer, as I’ve already suggested, is fear of what would happen if the Chinese stopped buying American bonds. But this fear is completely misplaced: in a world awash with excess savings, we don’t need China’s money — especially because the Federal Reserve could and should buy up any bonds the Chinese sell.

    It’s true that the dollar would fall if China decided to dump some American holdings. But this would actually help the U.S. economy, making our exports more competitive. Ask the Japanese, who want China to stop buying their bonds because those purchases are driving up the yen.

    Aside from unjustified financial fears, there’s a more sinister cause of U.S. passivity: business fear of Chinese retaliation.

    Consider a related issue: the clearly illegal subsidies China provides to its clean-energy industry. These subsidies should have led to a formal complaint from American businesses; in fact, the only organization willing to file a complaint was the steelworkers union. Why? As The Times reported, “multinational companies and trade associations in the clean energy business, as in many other industries, have been wary of filing trade cases, fearing Chinese officials’ reputation for retaliating against joint ventures in their country and potentially denying market access to any company that takes sides against China.”

    Similar intimidation has surely helped discourage action on the currency front. So this is a good time to remember that what’s good for multinational companies is often bad for America, especially its workers.

    So here’s the question: Will U.S. policy makers let themselves be spooked by financial phantoms and bullied by business intimidation? Will they continue to do nothing in the face of policies that benefit Chinese special interests at the expense of both Chinese and American workers? Or will they finally, finally act? Stay tuned.

    Ross Douthat is off today.
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China’s Disputes in Asia Buttress Influence of U.S.

    BEIJING — For the last several years, one big theme has dominated talk of the future of Asia: As China rises, its neighbors are being inevitably drawn into its orbit, currying favor with the region’s new hegemonic power.The presumed loser, of course, is the United States, whose wealth and influence are being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and whose economic troubles have eroded its standing in a more dynamic Asia.

    But rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself — one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of.

    Washington is leaping into the middle of heated territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations despite stern Chinese warnings that it mind its own business. The United States is carrying out naval exercises with South Korea in order to help Seoul rebuff threats from North Korea even though China is denouncing those exercises, saying that they intrude on areas where the Chinese military operates.

    Meanwhile, China’s increasingly tense standoff with Japan over a Chinese fishing trawler captured by Japanese ships in disputed waters is pushing Japan back under the American security umbrella.

    The arena for these struggles is shifting this week to a summit meeting of world leaders at the United Nations. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, has refused to meet with his Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan, and on Tuesday he threatened Japan with “further action” if it did not unconditionally release the fishing captain.

    On Friday, President Obama is expected to meet with Southeast Asian leaders and promise that the United States is willing to help them peacefully settle South China Sea territorial disputes with China.

    “The U.S. has been smart,” said Carlyle A. Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy who studies security issues in Asia. “It has done well by coming to the assistance of countries in the region.”

    “All across the board, China is seeing the atmospherics change tremendously,” he added. “The idea of the China threat, thanks to its own efforts, is being revived.”

    Asserting Chinese sovereignty over borderlands in contention — everywhere from Tibet to Taiwan to the South China Sea — has long been the top priority for Chinese nationalists, an obsession that overrides all other concerns. But this complicates China’s attempts to present the country’s rise as a boon for the whole region and creates wedges between China and its neighbors.

    Nothing underscores that better than the escalating diplomatic conflict between China and Japan over the detention of the Chinese fishing captain, Zhan Qixiong, by the Japanese authorities, who say the captain rammed two Japanese vessels around the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are administered by Japan but claimed by both Japan and China.

    The current dispute may strengthen the military alliance between the United States and Japan, as did an incident last April when a Chinese helicopter buzzed a Japanese destroyer. Such confrontations tend to remind Japanese officials, who have suggested that they need to refocus their foreign policy on China instead of America, that they rely on the United States to balance an unpredictable China, analysts say.

    “Japan will have no choice but to further go into America’s arms, to further beef up the U.S.-Japan alliance and its military power,” said Huang Jing, a scholar of the Chinese military at the National University of Singapore.

    In July, Southeast Asian nations, particularly Vietnam, applauded when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the United States was willing to help mediate a solution to disputes that those nations had with China over the South China Sea, which is rich in oil, natural gas and fish. China insists on dealing with Southeast Asian nations one on one, but Mrs. Clinton said the United States supported multilateral talks. Freedom of navigation in the sea is an American national interest, she said.

    President Obama meets on Friday with leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean. The Associated Press reported that the participants would issue a joint statement opposing the “use or threat of force by any claimant attempting to enforce disputed claims in the South China Sea.” The statement is clearly aimed at China, which has seized Vietnamese fishing vessels in recent years and detained their crews.

    On Tuesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, criticized any attempt at mediation by the United States. “We firmly oppose any country having nothing to do with the South China Sea issue getting involved in the dispute,” she said at a news conference in Beijing.

    China has also been objecting to American plans to hold military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, which China claims as its exclusive military operations zone. The United States and South Korea want to send a stern message to North Korea over what Seoul says was the torpedoing last March of a South Korean warship by a North Korean submarine. China’s belligerence serves only to reinforce South Korea’s dependence on the American military.

    American officials are increasingly concerned about the modernization of China’s navy and its long-range abilities, as well as China’s growing assertiveness in the surrounding waters. In March, a Chinese official told White House officials that the South China Sea was part of China’s “core interest” of sovereignty, similar to Tibet and Taiwan, an American official said in an interview at the time. American officials also object to China’s telling foreign oil companies not to work with Vietnam on developing oil fields in the South China Sea.

    Some Chinese military leaders and analysts see an American effort to contain China. Feng Zhaokui, a Japan scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an article on Tuesday in The Global Times, a populist newspaper, that the United States was trying to “nurture a coalition against China.”

    In August, Rear Adm. Yang Yi wrote an editorial for The PLA Daily, published by the Chinese Army, in which he said that on one hand, Washington “wants China to play a role in regional security issues.”

    “On the other hand,” he continued, “it is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and is constantly challenging China’s core interests.”

    Asian countries suspicious of Chinese intentions see Washington as a natural ally. In April, the incident involving the Chinese helicopter and Japanese destroyer spooked many in Japan, making them feel vulnerable at a time when Yukio Hatoyama, then the prime minister, had angered Washington with his pledges to relocate a Marine Corps air base away from Okinawa.

    His successor, Mr. Kan, has sought to smooth out ties with Washington and has emphasized that the alliance is the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy.

    “Insecurity about China’s presence has served as a wake-up call on the importance of the alliance,” said Fumiaki Kubo, a professor of public policy at the University of Tokyo.

    Michael Wines contributed reporting from Beijing, and Martin Fackler from Tokyo. Zhang Jing contributed research.
  13. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

    Aug 20, 2010
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    Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    The man seemed to have forgotten us in the article...LOL
  14. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    A Comeback in the Pacific

    HONG KONG — It makes few headlines and wins no votes but the Obama administration is tallying up significant gains in its relationships in East Asia.

    Long diverted by imbroglios in Iraq and Afghanistan, the summit meeting on Friday in New York between President Obama and leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) reflects a reawakening of U.S. interest in the southern neighbors of a rising China.

    Asean itself may be little more than a talk-shop on to which trade and cultural agreements have been bolted. But Washington now recognizes that engaging it as a group enables the United States to compete at least in part with a China, which has a trade agreement with Asean.

    It also serves as a reminder to China, as well as to the Asean countries themselves, that most member states have military cooperation deals with the United States that provide immensely valuable logistical support for U.S. forces in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell have been regular visitors to the region. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton acted as a catalyst at the July meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Hanoi, helping Vietnam get the issue of South China Sea disputes back on to the international agenda — to the great discomfort of China.

    The Obama administration’s attempt to engage with the oppressive regime in Myanmar is also viewed positively by other Asean members, and India. Although the United States has called the approaching elections unfair and undemocratic, Washington acknowledges both the ineffectiveness of sanctions and the possibility of positive change in Myanmar. In turn that could lead to Myanmar reducing its reliance on China, currently its closest ally.

    The new U.S. focus on Southeast Asia is also part of the broader strategy to shore up relations in East Asia.

    China sees this as an unwarranted outside interference in regional affairs and an attempt at containment. However, a more common view in the region is that expressed by Australia’s foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, at a recent press conference in Washington, that the “stability of East Asia and the Pacific remains anchored in the strategic presence of the United States.”

    Such sentiments are likely to surface at the East Asian summit meeting, to be held in late October in Hanoi, which groups 16 Asia-Pacific countries and includes the United States and Russia as observers. With Mrs. Clinton and the major U.S. regional allies of Japan, South Korea and Australia in attendance, plus an India that is also smarting from China’s border claims, the summit could prove a little uncomfortable for China.

    American concerns that Japan was loosening ties with the U.S. following the ouster of the Liberal Democratic Party last year have proved unwarranted. A firm stance by the United States over its Okinawa bases coincided with rising worries in Japan about China’s naval ambitions, further underlined this week by a fierce diplomatic spat over several uninhabited islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

    Japan has been shifting its defense focus to its southern waters and the international waterway between Okinawa and the southernmost Japanese islands that provides China’s navy with an outlet to the Pacific. South Korean sentiment, too, has been edging back closer to the United States following the sinking of one of its ships and strong Chinese opposition to Korea-U.S. naval exercises.

    None of this adds up to an alliance against China. Few nations, even Vietnam and Japan, want to antagonize a rising power and major market. But they are pushing back against China’s assertiveness. Thus, the revival of U.S. strategic interest in East Asia is being driven by the Asians themselves as well as by the Obama administration.

    For the longer term, the United States and its allies will be wondering whether it can afford the cost of its still overwhelming naval and air presence in the region. If cutbacks in U.S. military capability are needed, where will priorities lie?

    This century is supposed to be the Pacific century. So far the United States has focused its military might on the Middle East but the approaching summit meetings with Asia’s powers will show that Washington is reawakening to this region’s importance.
  15. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    US stirs South China Sea waters

    By Clifford McCoy

    A cooperative announcement from the United States and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday included reference to navigation and maritime security, an issue of rising rancor between the US and China in the South China Sea. Southeast Asian nations welcomed the US's commitment, but Washington's growing involvement in the group's prickly territorial issues with China threatens to spark a new regional flash point.

    The joint US-ASEAN statement came after a luncheon between US President Barack Obama and leaders of ASEAN member states on the sidelines of the United Nations' General Assembly meeting in New York. The meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet, who currently serves as ASEAN's chairman, and marks the second time Obama has met with

    regional leaders since last November in Singapore.

    Much of the statement dealt with rolling over past cooperation. "We reaffirmed the importance of regional peace and stability, maritime security, unimpeded commerce, freedom of navigation, in accordance with relevant universally agreed principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other international maritime law, and the peaceful settlement of disputes." A White House version released the same day notably added the phrase "including in the South China Sea."

    The South China Sea became a hot issue between the US and China in March when a senior Chinese foreign policy adviser warned two visiting American officials that Beijing considered the area a "core interest". The term is normally used by Beijing for regions where there are sensitive sovereignty issues, including Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang.

    The expression of "core interest" worried ASEAN nations, especially those with territorial claims to the South China Sea, as it seemingly placed China's claim to the South China Sea at the highest level of policy. It also concerned US policymakers since the area is the world's third most active commercial sea lane and runs counter to Washington's views on navigation rights.

    At the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi in July, Chinese officials were caught off-guard when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the resolution of territorial disputes was a matter of America's national interest. Beijing reacted angrily, accusing the US of interference in a regional issue. Soon after, China held its largest naval exercises to date in the South China Sea in a move some strategic observers saw as a veiled threat.

    The US held its own, albeit much smaller, naval exercises with Vietnam last month and hosted Vietnamese officials and military officers aboard the American carrier USS George Washington as it steamed through the South China Sea. While the exercises only involved non-combatant activities and the visit was geared toward confidence-building, the move was clearly designed to send a competing message of US interest in the area.

    Prior to Friday's meeting in New York, China spokeswoman Jiang Yu had warned the US and ASEAN about issuing a statement on the South China Sea. She said outside parties should not interfere in the dispute since internationalizing the issue would only make it more complicated and not lead to a solution.

    China's stance on maritime issues has grown increasingly hardline in recent years. As its naval power has grown, Beijing has backed strong rhetoric with military exercises that have set neighboring powers on edge. China has assumed the right to regulate which vessels can navigate or conduct research in its exclusive economic zones (EEZ), a move which legal experts say flouts international laws governing freedom of navigation. The USS Impeccable, an ocean surveillance ship, was harassed by Chinese naval vessels in March 2009, forcing it to leave an area in China's EEZ.

    China's tougher stance has become increasingly evident in the South China Sea. After several years of diplomatic dealings, including its signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN in 2003, China has become increasingly firm about its wide claims in the maritime area. The treaty aimed to commit all sides in disputes to peaceful resolution and the renunciation of the threat or use of force.

    China's claims extend over most of the South China Sea and are at odds with the territorial claims of Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. In addition to navigation issues, the seabed is thought to be rich in oil and gas.

    Economic ally, strategic threat
    Through burgeoning trade and investment ties, ASEAN has grown closer to China in recent years. Those ties have been bolstered by Beijing's various "soft power" initiatives, including ramped up development aid, interest-free loans, and various training courses for officials, including Chinese language sessions. Its influence is set to rise with its still fast-growing economy and the inauguration this year of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, which will lower or eliminate tariffs.

    At the same time, historical fears combined with rising concerns over Beijing's rapid military expansion have some Southeast Asian nations worried about future Chinese domination. The obvious hedge to these fears is the US, especially since its overt re-engagement with the region following Clinton's visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in February 2009. ASEAN leaders have reacted warmly to Washington's overture, saying they welcome a strong US role in the region.

    Both Washington and Beijing have been careful to avoid language which could be construed as competition for regional influence. Yet some strategic analysts believe the region could soon return to a Cold War-like situation, where nations are pressured to take diplomatic sides. While certain Southeast Asian nations have built-in biases, as a whole ASEAN would prefer increased US engagement, but not at the cost of isolating China. Instead, many would prefer to see a triangular strategic dialogue where the US, China and ASEAN all work together.

    While US support for the resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea certainly adds weight to ASEAN claimants' positions, member nations are also wary of Washington's direct involvement in the issue. Beijing has resisted multilateral talks on the area, preferring instead to hold bilateral discussions where it has stronger negotiating leverage. However, none of the nations wants to be forced to choose between China and the US in order to resolve the issue.

    It is unlikely Washington will force the issue since its interests would not be served by creating a regional dynamic in which countries are divided over support for the US or China, particularly at a time the US's economic might has diminished vis-a-vis China. Clearly, US interests are broader than the promotion of the territorial claims of ASEAN members to win favor in the region.

    The US's primary concern with the South China Sea is that Chinese domination could jeopardize access to one of the world's most important commercial sea lanes. Support for multilateral discussions also helps US "soft power" interests in the region, without substantial financial expense. Consistent with that shifting economic dynamic, the US acceded belatedly to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in July 2009.

    Promotion of free navigation in the South China Sea also jibes with US concerns over China's rising assertion of its assumed maritime rights and improved naval capabilities. Since the 1990's, China has carried out a program of military modernization and weapons acquisition that has raised concerns in Washington. In recent years, China has developed and acquired new hardware, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), submarines and surface warships. In addition, it has taken steps to overhaul its naval doctrine and improve its training, logistics and military exercises.

    Analysts believe the sharpest focus of China's naval improvements is Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province. So far China's naval improvements have bid primarily to ensure area denial from its shores out to a distance around Taiwan, a capability aimed at forcing the US to keep its distance in the scenario of a conflict over Taiwan. But its enhanced naval powers have also emboldened Chinese maritime claims and improved defense of its sea line communications.

    The South China Sea issue will likely be discussed again before the end of the year during several high-level US diplomatic visits scheduled for Southeast Asia in the coming months. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Hanoi at the end of October to mark the US's first ever participation in the East Asia Summit.

    Secretary for Defense Robert Gates will also be travelling to Hanoi in October to take part in the ASEAN Defense Ministers-Plus meeting. President Obama will follow in November when he visits Indonesia after canceling two previous trips. He is also scheduled to return to Indonesia for the next East Asian Summit in 2011.

    While the US is signaling a firmer strategic commitment, the US-ASEAN joint statement on Friday fell short of the strong declaration on the South China Sea some had anticipated. That's a reflection of ASEAN leaders' reluctance to chill a regional warming trend with China. But by placing maritime security concerns in their joint statement and with the US expressly mentioning the South China Sea in the White House's separate read-out, US-China competition for regional influence has a potentially volatile new theater.

    Clifford McCoy is a freelance journalist.
  16. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

    Oct 2, 2009
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    In today's world, the strategists, the top brass and the militant/nationalist segment of the population in every country seem to live in their own world. Everyday as they talk about war, propose to go to war and actively prepare for war, the rest of the country is busy integrating with the supposed adversaries, economically and culturally.

    We can talk about the war all day long for the next 20, 30 years, but the truth india is as likely to go to war with the aliens as with China.
  17. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 11, 2010
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    Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
    US may lift Chinese arms embargo

    US President Obama has announced his desire to see C-130 cargo aircraft sold to China, a possible sign Washington may soon lift its arms embargo on Beijing. (File photo / Provided to China Daily)

    The United States appears ready to lift its 21-year-old arms embargo against China in the wake of President Obama's request on Saturday to ease restrictions on the sale of cargo aircraft to Beijing.

    In an Oct 8 letter, Obama called on the House and Senate to lift the ban on C-130 cargo aircraft sales to China, emphasizing "the national interest of the United States" to terminate the suspensions.

    Should the proposal pass in both Houses of Congress, this will signal the first time since 1989 that the US has exported arms to China.

    Obama stressed in his letter that C-130 cargo aircraft are to be deployed in response to oil spills at sea. However, he did not specify a date or financial cost for an imminent export.

    License requirements shall remain in place for these exports, and will require review and approval on an ongoing, case-by-case basis by US government officials.

    The C-130 cargo aircraft - also known as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules - is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built in the 1950s. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft.

    The aircraft have been widely used by NATO and coalition troops on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. The C-130 has so far been exported to more than 50 countries worldwide.

    Washington has exported to China Black Hawk helicopters and other advanced armaments in the 1980s, but has also led Western countries in its restriction of high-tech weapons sales to Beijing since 1989.

    It has also threatened to cease cooperation with the European Union, if the latter were to lift its arms sales ban, according to Zhao Xiaozhuo, senior colonel and expert on US military affairs at Beijing-based Academy of Military Science.

    "Israel, for example, under the pressure of the US, even had to quit from a contract of selling early warning aircraft to China," said Zhao.

    The US, he added, is reluctant to export arms to China out of fears that Beijing's growing military expenditures are making it a fast-evolving threat.

    There is also an underlying fear in Washington, Zhao added, that China would simply use the core technologies to its advantage.

    Zhai Dequan, the vice-secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said that though the C-130 has been put in use for decades of years, it still has been of vast use in various military actions and exercises.

    "As a tactical transport, C-130 cargo aircraft serve for middle-ranged deliveries - that is, the distance is within the (battlefield) theater," said Zhao.

    "Unlike fighters, a cargo aircraft requires less updated technology and depends more on durability, and the C-130 has been performing quite well in the past decades," said Zhao. "Therefore it is still of operational value in the US."

    Analysts said the White House's motives have been fueled by the Obama administration's plan to balance trade with China while testing the waters to further restore strained military-to-military relations.

    The US is particularly worried about its trade deficit with Beijing. Moreover, while Washington has been accusing China of using its surplus to create an imbalance in bilateral trade, Beijing has countered that the US government has been banning high-tech American exports to China - and, thus, partly fueling the trade imbalance.

    Zhai noted, however, that arms sales are beneficial in boosting related industries and, in doing so, creating job growth.

    Beyond that, he added, China has other - and at times more important - reasons to have such hardware at its disposal.

    "During the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the US ignored China's urgent need for aircraft engines used for rescuing victims," said Zhen. "If it is free trade, then what is the rationale of the US not selling China such conventional and not-so-high-end weapons?"

    The other concern is to cast a light on the resumption of stalled military exchanges between the two countries.

    Most notably, Beijing had suspended military exchanges altogether in January after the Obama administration unveiled plans to officially sanction the sale of a $6.4 billion military package to Taiwan - an inalienable part of China.

    More recently, China has voiced objections to US military exercises with Republic of Korea (ROK) in the Yellow Sea, part of renewed cooperation between Washington and Seoul.

    "The US wanted very much to bring the Sino-US military exchange on track - the scheduled meeting between the two countries' defense ministers in Vietnam is clearly a sign of dtente," said Zhai. "Therefore, Obama's proposal can be seen as yet another friendly signal to China."

    However "there is more that the US can do," he added. "Apart from the C-130, the US should export more advanced weaponry to China, to fully realize the normalization and transparency of military exchanges."

    He Wei contributed to this story.

    China & World--English--People's Daily Online
  18. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

    Sep 18, 2009
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    US China relations will last for as long as there is no alternative to China for American businesses as far as manufacturing and shipping goes. Currently there is none.
  19. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    U.S. Warns on Territorial Disputes But Tiptoes on China

    HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday called on Asian-Pacific defense chiefs to avoid resorting to "force or coercion" to settle territorial disputes, in a veiled warning that appeared aimed at China.

    He also said territorial disputes and maritime claims were a growing challenge to stability in the region.

    But Gates, in remarks at a meeting of defense ministers in Vietnam's capital Hanoi, avoided singling out China by name -- a possible gesture toward rebuilding still-fragile U.S. defense ties with Beijing.

    "The United States does not take sides in competing territorial claims, such as those in the South China Sea," Gates said. "Competing claims should be settled peacefully without force or coercion."

    Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all claim parts of the potentially oil and gas rich South China Sea. Beijing effectively claims the whole maritime area.

    Territorial frictions with China further north grabbed headlines last month after Japan detained the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that collided with Japanese patrol vessels off disputed islands.

    Beijing suspended some contact with Tokyo in response and industry sources said it halted shipments of rare earth metals vital for electronics and car parts, despite China's denials.

    "Disagreements over territorial claims and the appropriate use of the maritime domain appear to be a growing challenge to regional stability and prosperity," Gates said in a closed-door session, according to prepared remarks.

    Mentions of maritime security and territorial claims are a clear nod in the direction of growing concerns about China's expanding military reach and muscular reaction to maritime territory disputes, including in the South China Sea.

    Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie reiterated China's position that its policies were defensive and not meant to challenge or threaten anyone, and said the security situation in the region was "generally stable."

    "China is positive and open to regional security cooperation," he said in remarks prepared for the Asia-Pacific defense ministers' meeting, calling for more security dialogue.

    Gates appeared to echo comments at a similar forum in July by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which irked Beijing, about the U.S. "national interest" in freedom of navigation.

    "The United States has always exercised our rights and supported the rights of others to transit through, and operate in, international waterways," he said.

    In late July, Chinese naval forces carried out drills in the disputed southern waters amid tension with Washington over its drills with South Korea's military.


    U.S. officials including Gates have expressed frustration with the on-again, off-again relationship with China's military, whose rapid build-up has raised eyebrows in Washington.

    A Pentagon report released in August said Beijing was expanding its military edge over Taiwan, increasing the lethality of its short-range ballistic missiles.

    "As we improve our military capabilities, we must discuss these developments together," Gates said.

    Gates has made rebuilding ties with Beijing a priority, and accepted an invitation to visit China during talks with Chinese counterpart on Monday.

    They were the first top-level meeting between the two nations' defense chiefs since Beijing lifted a freeze on military ties, imposed early this year after the Obama administration's proposed $6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan.

    U.S. arms sales Taiwan has added to a litany of strains between the world's biggest and second-biggest economies, including the value of China's currency, trade protectionism, Internet freedoms and Tibet.

    (Editing by Alex Richardson)
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    U.S. Alarmed by Harsh Tone of China’s Military

    BEIJING — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the two militaries suspended talks with each other last winter, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.”His message seemed directed mainly at officers like Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cao of the Chinese Navy.

    Days before Mr. Gates arrived in Asia, Commander Cao was aboard a frigate in the Yellow Sea, conducting China’s first war games with the Australian Navy, exercises to which, he noted pointedly, the Americans were not invited.

    Nor are they likely to be, he told Australian journalists in slightly bent English, until “the United States stops selling the weapons to Taiwan and stopping spying us with the air or the surface.”

    The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

    The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.

    “All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity,” said Huang Jing, a scholar of China’s military and leadership at the National University of Singapore. “And as a young officer or soldier, you always take the strongest of straw men to maximize the effect. Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.”

    The stakes have increased as China’s armed forces, once a fairly ragtag group, have become more capable and have taken on bigger tasks. The navy, the centerpiece of China’s military expansion, has added dozens of surface ships and submarines, and is widely reported to be building its first aircraft carrier. Last month’s Yellow Sea maneuvers with the Australian Navy are but the most recent in a series of Chinese military excursions to places as diverse as New Zealand, Britain and Spain.

    China is also reported to be building an antiship ballistic missile base in southern China’s Guangdong Province, with missiles capable of reaching the Philippines and Vietnam. The base is regarded as an effort to enforce China’s territorial claims to vast areas of the South China Sea claimed by other nations, and to confront American aircraft carriers that now patrol the area unmolested.

    Even improved Chinese forces do not have capacity or, analysts say, the intention, to fight a more able United States military. But their increasing range and ability, and the certainty that they will only become stronger, have prompted China to assert itself regionally and challenge American dominance in the Pacific.

    That makes it crucial to help lower-level Chinese officers become more familiar with the Americans, experts say, before a chance encounter blossoms into a crisis.

    “The P.L.A. combines an odd combination of deep admiration for the U.S. armed forces as a military, but equally harbors a deep suspicion of U.S. military deployments and intentions towards China,” David Shambaugh, a leading expert on the Chinese military at George Washington University, said in an e-mail exchange, referring to the People’s Liberation Army.

    “Unfortunately, the two militaries are locked in a classic security dilemma, whereby each side’s supposedly defensive measures are taken as aggressive action by the other, triggering similar countermeasures in an inexorable cycle,” he wrote. “This is very dangerous, and unnecessary.”

    From the Chinese military’s view, this year has offered ample evidence of American ill will.

    The Chinese effectively suspended official military relations early this year after President Obama met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader, and approved a $6.7 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China regards as its territory.

    Since then, the Chinese military has bristled as the State Department has offered to mediate disputes between China and its neighbors over ownership of Pacific islands and valuable seabed mineral rights. And when the American Navy conducted war games with South Korea last month in the Yellow Sea, less than 400 miles from Beijing, younger Chinese officers detected an encroaching threat.The United States “is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and constantly challenging China’s core interests,” Rear Adm. Yang Yi, former head of strategic studies at the Chinese Army’s National Defense University, wrote in August in the People’s Liberation Army Daily, the military newspaper. “Washington will inevitably pay a costly price for its muddled decision.”In truth, little in the American actions is new. Mr. Obama’s predecessors also hosted the Dalai Lama. American arms sales to Taiwan were mandated by Congress in 1979, and have occurred regularly since then. American warships regularly ply the waters off China’s coast and practice with South Korean ships.

    But Chinese military leaders seem less inclined to tolerate such old practices now that they have the resources and the confidence to say no.

    “Why do you sell arms to Taiwan? We don’t sell arms to Hawaii,” said Col. Liu Mingfu, a China National Defense University professor and author of “The China Dream,” a nationalistic call to succeed the United States as the world’s leading power.

    That official military relations are resuming despite the sharp language from Chinese Army officials is most likely a function of international diplomacy. President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Washington soon, and American experts had predicted that China would resume military ties as part of an effort to smooth over rough spots before the state visit.

    Some experts see increased contact as critical. A leading Chinese expert on international security, Zhu Feng of Peking University, says that the Chinese military’s hostility toward the United States is not new, just more open. And that, he says, is not only the result of China’s new assertiveness, but its military’s inexperience on the world stage.

    “Chinese officers’ international exposure remains very limited,” Mr. Zhu said. “Over time, things will improve very, very significantly. Unfortunately, right now they are less skillful.”

    Greater international exposure is precisely what American officials would like to see. Americans hope renewed cooperation will lead to more exchanges of young officers and joint exercises.

    “It’s time for both militaries to reconsider their tactics and strategy to boost their friendship,” Mr. Zhu said. “The P.L.A. is increasing its exposure internationally. So what sort of new rule of law can we figure out to fit the P.L.A. to such new exposure? It’s a challenge not just for China, but also for the U.S.”
  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    U.S. and China Soften Tone Over Disputed Seas

    HANOI, Vietnam — The United States and China sought to defuse tensions over disputed territorial seas on Tuesday, with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging nations to honor historic rights of free transit through international waters and his Chinese counterpart saying the region had nothing to fear from Beijing’s armed forces.

    At a forum of Asian defense ministers here, Mr. Gates was emphatic in calling on all countries that share the South China Sea to renounce threats or coercion in resolving their competing claims of sovereignty over transit lanes, fishing rights, territory and undersea resources.

    But he was also diplomatic, insisting that the United States did not take sides in such disputes and not specifically naming China as the perceived aggressor. In a recent round of disagreements, China has for the past three weeks cut off shipments to Japan of rare earth minerals, crucial to that country’s auto, electronics and clean energy industries.

    Beijing’s delegation to the meeting — a gathering of ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus representatives of Russia and China — also spoke in measured terms, emphasizing that China’s military growth was not a threat.

    China’s message, while delivered in broad, nonspecific terms, was interpreted as representing an effort to calm concerns over Beijing’s maritime intentions.

    Even so, representatives of seven nations raised the issue of how to guarantee maritime security for all countries sharing the South China Sea. The disputes have particularly upset Vietnamese and Japanese relations with China.

    Mr. Gates warned that disputes over the oceans and their resources were “a growing challenge to regional stability and prosperity,” and he said that the United States had “a national interest in freedom of navigation, in unimpeded economic development and commerce, and in respect for international law.” But he also noted that “the United States does not take sides on competing territorial claims, such as those in the South China Sea.”

    The central theme of his comments was that “competing claims should be settled peacefully, without force or coercion, through collaborative diplomatic processes and in keeping with customary international law.”

    Beijing’s representative to the conference, Liang Guanglie, the Chinese defense minister, called for “mutual trust” throughout the region, and said neighbors needed not fear his nation’s military.

    “China’s defense development is not aimed to challenge or threaten anyone, but to ensure its security and promote international and regional peace and stability,” he said. “China pursues a defense policy that is defensive in nature.”

    United States officials who track Chinese public statements noted that the general did not describe the South China Sea as a region of “core interests,” as China had in the past. A senior Defense Department official said that a sense of crisis over the feuding territorial claims had diminished.

    “It does appear that the countries that are concerned about this issue are trying to think their way and feel their way towards a more positive approach,” the senior Pentagon official said, speaking on standard diplomatic ground rules of anonymity to describe American assessments of the Chinese comments. The official acknowledged, though, that “very tough questions” remained.

    On Monday, in another sign of easing tensions, Mr. Liang, the Chinese defense minister, invited Mr. Gates to visit Beijing.

    Mr. Gates, in his statement, noted that both long-established practices and the official treaty provided clear guidance on “appropriate use of the maritime domain, and rights of access to it.”

    “By adhering to this guidance, we can ensure that all share equal and open access to international waterways,” Mr. Gates said.

    China has sought through words and actions to extend its territorial claims beyond the 12-nautical-mile limit accepted through customary international law and codified by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The convention has been signed and ratified by about 160 nations, but it is frozen in the United States Congress, despite the support of the Defense Department and the Department of the Navy.

    Pentagon officials are never eager for a comparison of the United States to the other nations that also have not ratified the sea pact — a group that includes North Korea and Iran.

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