Friday, June 20, 2014


The Philippines And U.S. To Hold Naval Drills Near Disputed Shoal In South China Sea

Editor's Note: 11/14/2014 The naval drills went off despite China's protests which did not include naval hazing incidents, thankfully. Unfortunately Chinese patrols and harassment of Philippine commercial fishermen, and escorting of Chinese illegal fishermen continued as soon as the combined Philippine and American forces departed the area. The drills demonstrated Philippine / U.S. solidarity and the ability to form combined forces but did nothing to curb Chinese aggressive behavior except locally on a temporary basis. The dragon still intends to devour Philippine territory.

Philippine and American military forces and naval units are scheduled to hold naval exercises this month off of the disputed Scarborough Shoal
the scene of the Scarborough Shoal "Stand Off". The Dragon ( China) is sure to be not pleased and acting unpleasant about it. As we have described in so many posts under our "How Far Will the Dragon Swim" series tensions are permanently high throughout the China Seas with the Dragon claiming the internationally recognized exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and in some cases even parts of the territorial waters of its neighbors. Overall China claims about 90% of the South China Sea which is where Scarborough Shoal is located in a situation where it is undeniably part of the EEZ of the Philippines. But the South China Sea is a rich fishery and China requires a lot of protein for its massive populace. It is believed that the South China Sea is not only rich in oil and gas deposits but that these are deposits of the more easily refined "sweet" crude and located in waters and deposits similar to early U.S. Gulf Coast deposits, so recovery could be very economical as it is not anticipated to be technically challenging. Unfortunately with China being at odds with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Taiwan over the area drilling contractors are not very willing to explore except within the undisputed portions of the various nation's territorial seas (roughly up to 12 miles off shore. Outside those areas with all of the unrest, drilling permits are not reliable. The disputes have been going on for decades with relatively little shooting. The death count at the moment is 64 Vietnamese sailors murdered by Chinese naval units shooting at them while they were trying to raise a Vietnamese flag in waist deep water in 1988. Video of the Actual Event .

Since 1988 the Chinese have been pursuing the "Cabbage Patch Strategy" first applied at Scarborough Shoal. China has evolved the world's largest "coast guard" in recent years at roughly 930 ships and uses mostly clearly market and lightly armed "coast guard" vessels to intimidate and bar access to sea areas owned by neighboring states. These units operate under cover of claimed administrative and law enforcement rights in the area. When the coast guards of the actual sovereign states arrive on scene they have been buzzed, pushed, bumped, and engaged in water cannon fights, but since 1988 no gun fire again. The Dragon knows that it is up against U.S. allies in some cases with defense treaties with the United States and tries to keep the bullying behavior within an arguable context of jurisdictional disputes between other wise "friendly neighbors". In the Cabbage patch strategy the Dragon first sends in his coast guard to begin harassing local fishermen and discouraging their use of the coveted area. Then Chinese commercial fishing boats are brought to the area in great numbers. If the Philippine Coast Guard arrives on scene they face an overwhelming number of unarmed but uncooperative fishing boats. The Chinese Coast Guard starts out challenging the Philippine Coast Guard by radio communications, and visual signals. This gets drawn out as long as possible. If the Philippine Coast Guard starts to move on the Chinese fishermen, the Chinese cutters engage in harassing runs, near collisions, some times a bump all the while the commercial fishermen keep fishing. Once most of the Commercial fishermen have full holds of fish the Chinese Coast Guard breaks contact with the Philippine Coast Guard and takes up escort positions around the fish laden commercial fishermen and set course for China. It pretty much has been working at Scarborough Shoal. But at another reef eight Philippine marines aboard a beached ancient WWII built rusting landing craft have been defiantly flying the Philippine flag in the face of circling Chinese Coast Guard cutters since 1999. These marines are armed and don't intend to give up the ship or the reef. The Chinese know that to fire on that Philippine flag and ship is an act of war with the Philippines, one of America's oldest and most staunch military allies. They circle but the "Cabbage Patch strategy" is proving inadequate in the face of any real occupation.

China complains constantly that U.S. actions "provoke" tension. These "provocative actions" include sailing through the international waters of the South China sea without regard to Chinese Coast Guard "escorts". Refusal to acknowledge that China owns the entire sea and that their neighbors have no rights, and insisting on honoring military agreements worked out with neighboring states like the Philippines, some in place since 1945. Of course the Dragon portrays its construction of the world's largest coast guard, which regularly invades the EEZs and territorial waters of neighbors as simply an "Administrative necessity".

The exercise will involve five war ships including a U.S. guided-missile destroyer and about 1,000 troops from both the Philippines and the U.S.. The exercises known as CARAT for Cooperation Afloat Readiness Training will last about a week and will include live fire exercises.

The exercise is centered about 80 nautical miles from the patrol area of the Chinese Cabbage Patch offensive against Scarborough Shoal. That area is typically patrolled by two to three Chinese Coast Guard cutters comparable to U.S. Coast Guard medium endurance cutters , no match for a U.S. Navy destroyer. The Chinese cabbage patch strategy has effectively wrested control of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines since 2012. This exercise will be viewed by China as an allied demonstration of their willingness and ability to take the shoal back by force whenever it is convenient to do so. That impression is bolstered by recent successful legal action by the Philippines. In Jamuary 2013 the Philippines entered the arbitration court in The Hague to ask the court to prohibit China's policies in the South China seas that disrespected the rights of China's maritime neighbors as described in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). China refused to answer the initial summons, then claimed that the court had no jurisdiction. As we described in a recent post, the court gave China 30 days to respond or threatened a default judgement for the Philippines. If the court ultimately rules against China's policies and it surely must, then China doesn't have a legal leg to even make argument on. No nation could be peacefully compelled to follow Chinese Coast Guard orders in the EEZ's of neighboring states or the international transit waters of the South China Sea. China would eventually find itself in a state of virtual war with every shipping nation on earth.

According to the official press releases the goal of the exercise is to strengthen the interactive capabilities of both the Philippines and the United States in amphibious operations, special operations, and surface warfare; skills that in fact would be needed in taking back islands. However, officially there is no real world target for the exercise, the opposing force in the exercise officially doesn't represent any real nation. The Dragon isn't going to buy that, but in fact the exercise is indeed an annual event. The U.S. war ships will arrive at the Philippine Subic Bay base on June 26th. U.S. participant ships include the Arleigh Burke class USS HALSEY, the USNS SAFEGUARD, and the USS ASHLAND. Manila will exercise with their BRP RAMON ALCARAZ, a former USCG Hamilton Class high endurance cutter, and the BRP EMILIO JACINTO , ex British Peacock class, and their newly acquired Polish built naval helicopters.


 But we don't expect the Dragon to get the message, thug states never do. The coming international court ruling is about to make their 930 ship giant coast guard an expensive white elephant that the Dragon purchased to coat grand theft with a thin veneer of possible legality. If they continue their cabbage patch strategy past that ruling they will eventually have to simply use force, that will lead to war. The Chinese rulers do know that war in the South China Sea will lead to regime change in China. China with a 930 ship coast guard and similar sized navy will be able to hold out for quite a while but her seaborne commerce will end with the opening shot. Her economy will collapse, but they will face no invasion of the mainland so the Chinese people will not see the necessity of such a war and will blame the communists for the folly that ended their economic dreams. We predict that in such an event communists party big wigs will be hanging from lampposts in China. The allies will arm and train the dissident groups such as the Tibetans , mine the harbors, raise international insurance rates for shipping with China to unprecedented highs. Their super sized but relatively inexperienced naval forces will be come a mill stone around the Communist's necks. They don't seem to know when bigger isn't really better.

The exercise, we suspect will go pretty routinely, but the Chinese public and diplomatic reaction will be vehement in the worst tradition of the last gasp of the angry wicked caught in their own web of deceit.


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