The commentary in China’s Liberation Army Daily falls short of a formal government statement, but marks the harshest high-level warning yet from Beijing about tensions with the Philippines over disputed seas where both countries have recently sent ships to assert their claims.
This week American and Filipino troops launched a fortnight of annual naval drills amid the stand-off between Beijing and Manila, who have accused each other of encroaching on sovereign seas near the Scarborough Shoal, west of a former U.S. navy base at Subic Bay.
The joint exercises are held in different seas around the Philippines; the leg that takes place in the South China Sea area starts on Monday.
“Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force,” said the commentary in the Chinese paper, which is the chief mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army.
“Through this kind of meddling and intervention, the United States will only stir up the entire South China Sea situation towards increasing chaos, and this will inevitably have a massive impact on regional peace and stability.”
Up to now, China has chided the Philippines over the dispute about the uninhabited shoal known in the Philippines as the Panatag Shoal and which China calls Huangyan, about 124 nautical miles off the main Philippine island of Luzon.
China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan in the South China Sea, which could be rich in oil and gas and is spanned by busy shipping lanes.
Beijing has sought to resolve the disputes one-on-one but there is worry among its neighbors over what some see as growing Chinese assertiveness in staking claims over the seas and various islands, reefs and shoals.
In past patches of regional tension over disputed seas, hawkish Chinese military voices have also emerged, only to be later reined in by the government, and the same could be true this time.
Since late 2010, China has sought to cool tensions with the United States over regional disputes, trade and currency policies, human rights and other contentious issues. Especially with the ruling Chinese Party preoccupied with a leadership succession late in 2012, Beijing has stressed its hopes for steady relations throughout this year.
Nonetheless, experts have said that China remains wary of U.S. military intentions across the Asia-Pacific, especially in the wake of the Obama administration’s vows to “pivot” to the region, reinvigorating diplomatic and security ties with allies.
The Liberation Army Daily commentary echoed that wariness.
“The U.S. strategy of returning to the Asia-Pacific carries the implication of a shift in military focus, and there is no better strategic opening than China’s sovereignty disputes with the Philippines and other countries in the South China Sea,” said the newspaper.
“The United States’ intention of trying to draw more countries into stirring up the situation in the South China Sea is being brandished to the full,” it said.
(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
- China top military paper warns of armed confrontation over seas (thehimalayantimes.com)
- South China Sea Standoff Ratchets Up A Notch (chinabystander.wordpress.com)
- China accused of escalating South China Sea standoff (ctv.ca)
- Philippines says new China ship aggravates sea row (staradvertiser.com)
- Russian ships arriving in China for naval war game (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- US and Philippines begin South China Sea drills (1oneday.wordpress.com)
- It’s Getting Ugly Between China And The Philippines In The South China Sea (businessinsider.com)
Posted by Mohan Ramraj on December 9, 2011
Beijing, Dec 8 (TruthDive): Chinese President Hu Jintao has asked the Chinese navy to get ready for war as regional tensions over maritime disputes were on the increase in recent times. His call also came in the wake of a campaign portraying U.S as a Pacific power.
The Navy should “accelerate its transformation and modernization in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security,” he said.
In an address to the Central Military Commission, Hu said: “Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defense and military building.”
His comments, which were posted in a statement on a government website, come as the United States and Beijing’s neighbors have expressed concerns over its naval ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea.
The whole of the fight is for the South China Sea, which accounts for one-third of the global sea-trade, also believed to have huge oil and gas reserves. Many countries accused China’s move to build tension over there.
The country’s official news agency quoted the President as saying China’s Navy should “make extended preparations for warfare.”
The U.S carefully responded acknowledging its right to develop its military and called for transparency.
“They have a right to develop military capabilities and to plan, just as we do,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little, but he added, “We have repeatedly called for transparency from the Chinese and that’s part of the relationship we’re continuing to build with the Chinese military.”
“Nobody’s looking for a scrap here,” insisted another spokesman, Admiral John Kirby. “Certainly we wouldn’t begrudge any other nation the opportunity, the right to develop naval forces to be ready.Our naval forces are ready and they’ll stay ready.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: “We want to see stronger military-to-military ties with China and we want to see greater transparency. That helps answer questions we might have about Chinese intentions.”
It is very obvious that the Chinese Premier’s call came in the wake of several American top officials’ visit to Asian countries including President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
- Prepare for combat, China’s Hu urges navy! (rightways.wordpress.com)
- China’s Hu Urges Navy To Prepare For Combat (thetruthabout1111.wordpress.com)
- China’s Hu urges navy to prepare for combat – Yahoo! News (2012indyinfo.com)
- Prepare for war, Chinese navy is told as Pacific tensions grow (Evening Standard) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
- Tensions rise on South China Sea dispute (mb50.wordpress.com)
July 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm Dean Cheng and Walter Lohman
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will be in the People’s Republic of China for much of the next week to engage in talks with his counterparts from the People’s Liberation Army. His visit comes amidst a thaw in U.S.–Chinese military-to-military relations, capped by the visit of General Chen Bingde, chief of the Chinese general staff.
The Chinese have long seen military-to-military contact as a U.S. “ask”—particularly since 1999, when Congress imposed legal restrictions on precisely what sort of information could be shared. Therefore, Admiral Mullen’s Chinese hosts will likely argue that the United States should make concessions to Chinese demands, essentially in exchange for its willingness to meet and in order to sustain the improving atmospherics.
China is likely to reiterate its position that the South China Sea is not a U.S. concern and there is no role for the United States. The Chinese view the U.S. offer to facilitate confidence-building measures—as well as the recent congressional resolution criticizing China’s actions in that region—as unwarranted meddling. Admiral Mullen is sure to hear an earful on this.
The Chinese are also likely to demand that, in light of improving military relations, the United States cease military activities, including reconnaissance, through waters and airspace that the Chinese claim as part of their exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Such a demand runs counter to basic American interests and against customary international law.
The Chinese loudly claim to respect freedom of navigation, but their definition is much different than America’s. The U.S position has been clear for decades: All states enjoy navigational rights and freedoms in EEZs that are “qualitatively and quantitatively” the same as those they enjoy on the high seas. The Chinese reject the international consensus on this issue and insist on the right to regulate foreign military activities beyond its 12-mile territorial limit.
American reconnaissance activities in what China considers its “near seas” are of critical importance. An oft-quoted line from Sun-Tzu is that “all war is deception.” The only way to counter that deception is to know one’s opponent—which is something that requires a robust program of surveillance and monitoring. The Chinese certainly understand this: Chinese intelligence activities in the United States, including cyber activities, have hardly abated simply because of recent military improvements. The fact is that, however good U.S.–China relations are at any given time, American military forces must be prepared for every contingency. And if it ever comes to conflict, this means having as full an understanding as possible of China’s capabilities and the physical environment beyond its territorial limit.
Moreover, the act of intelligence-gathering itself is a form of deterrence. Only through the conduct of such activities can the U.S. military establish the necessary baseline of Chinese activity to know when they might be acting out of the ordinary. A regular program of surveillance also threatens efforts at deception and surprise, making any Chinese military option that much more risky.
The best demonstration of rights beyond China’s territorial waters is by exercising them. If the U.S. ever forfeits its right to conduct military activities throughout the South China Sea or anywhere else it is lawfully permitted, it will never gain it back.
Admiral Mullen should send a clear message to his Chinese counterparts that the United States welcomes improvements in military relations as it benefits both sides, but it will not seek them at the price of its own security.