HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM?
IT WILL CROSS THE SEA AND WADDLE ONTO YOUR BEACH IF YOU LET IT.
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|"FACE THE MONSTOR" by Frits Ahefeldt:
CHINESE VESSEL INTRUSION ANGERS JAPAN
Full story in ALJAZEERA: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/01/20131883126773286.html
The news from the China Seas has not been good this week. Despite assurances by China last week that certain ship boarding operations would be confined to Chinese territorial seas, the limits of which they did not care to specify; this week started off with a recon in force by four Chinese government vessels in Japanese territorial seas. The Japanese response to this "invasion fleet" was far less muted than for less formal violations of her recognized sovereign territory. This time the Japanese called in the Chinese ambassador for a formal protest. U.S. policy makers must keep in mind that the disputed islands are formally recognized in our defense treaty with Japan as part of the Japanese homeland that we are promised to defend.
The Chinese may have a complex historically based pre-WWII claim on these uninhabited small islands and rocks but due to their own Communist led revolution were not around in the late 1940s to pursue their claim. The purchase of the islands by Japan from a private owner is being treated by China as a "provocation" when instead it was an important move by the Japanese government to prepare the way for less controversial settlement of the issue , especially if an international tribunal would grant a motion from China for the territory. But China has continued to act like the thug state it is and engages in this deadly game of brinkmanship and harassment. The Dragon is behaving the same way in the Philippines.
The Philippines has made alliances with Japan which in the wake of their World War II history was previously considered impossible. Japan is helping beef up the muscle of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippines have dropped all objections to Japanese naval expansion. These countries are all major trading partners with the United States and the United States is bound by defense treaties to both Japan and the Philippines. These countries are also major trading partners with China. China's potential gain of thousands of square miles of ocean exclusive economic zone rights and some tiny , mostly uninhabited islands at the expense of its neighbors hardly make sense against what China will lose in a naval war over these mostly falsely claimed territories.
Plainly at risk is China's economy; by drawing its largest debtor into combat, along with two of its other major trading partners. As large as the Chinese Navy and emerging Coast Guard services are, they are inexperienced and no match for any combined arms campaign that involves Japan and the United States much less others who are likely to join as allies when the shooting starts. Even if the shooting should end with Chinese troops in possession of every disputed island much of their very expensive fleet will be at the bottom of the sea and much of their maritime infrastructure will be in ruin. If China can't keep the naval war it is pushing confined to the sea, this engagement could be the end of the Communist regime, not as a war goal of the reluctant opposition governments or forces but from an awakening of the Chinese people unwilling to give up their new found and increasing prosperity over sea areas and tiny rocks and islets that China has never previously held power over or has only rather dubious arguments for any ownership interests. The aggressive moves by the Dragon now make the Dragon the only party that can ratchet down tensions by ceasing their provocative Naval/Coast Guard maneuvers and incursions and simply pursuing an international court case against Japan and the U.S. over the treaty provisions that serve as the key element to international recognition of Japan's sovereignty over the disputed islands. While that sovereignty may be subject to court challenge it is still legal and official and binding on the United States unless and until an international tribunal rules otherwise.
China continues to expand naval dominance in Spratlys
MANILA, Philippines - A Chinese amphibious warfare ship has been making its presence felt in the contested Spratly archipelago in a bid by Beijing to continuously expand naval dominance over the region, according to a local official in Kalayaan Island. Philippine sources believe the ship carries Chinese marines and amphibious landing tanks. All totaled it appears that China is maintaining at least six combat ready ships in the area disputed between the Dragon, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. China has been expanding its naval presence in the region and occupying and developing unoccupied islands. Some Philippine sources believe that China may now occupy three fourths of the islands. The full story from the Philippine star is available via the link above.
Will the Dragon start shooting in the Philippines? It did not hesitate to turn belt fed machine guns on unarmed Vietnamese sailors in the late 1980s over an offshore territorial dispute. The Philippines however is not as friendless as 1980s Vietnam. The Philippines have an alliance with the United States and a growing alliance with Japan, a serious regional naval power. So far gunfire has been avoided but the game China plays is very aggressive and prone to error. Errors could be fatal not only to sailors of both sides on scene but to the peace of the region if not the world. This week is not progressing well for peace at sea.