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US challenges ‘provocative’ China sea law – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

US challenges ‘provocative’ China sea law – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

The US is already at odds with China over its air defence zone over the East China Sea [Getty]
The United States has described as “provocative and potentially dangerous” new Chinese restrictions of foreign fishing vessels in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

From January 1, China has required foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval to enter waters it says are under its jurisdiction. It rejects territorial claims by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said on Thursday that China gave no justification under international law for the new restictions.

“Our long-standing position has been that all concerned parties should avoid any unilateral action that raises tensions, and undermines the prospects for a diplomatic or other peaceful resolution of differences,” she said.

“The passing of these restrictions on other countries’ fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act.” 

The US is already at odds with China declaring in November an air defence zone over an area of the East China Sea claimed by Japan and South Korea.

The US flew B-52 strategic bombers into the new zone in defiance, raising tensions further in the Pacific.

The new Chinese rules do not outline penalties, but the requirements are similar to a 2004 national law that says boats entering Chinese territory without permission can have their catch and fishing equipment seized and face fines of up to $82,600.

Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said regulating the use of marine resources was a normal practice.

China’s ties with the Philippines have been especially frosty over the South China Sea.

Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, said Manila had asked its embassy in Beijing to get more information on the rules.

The New New Great Game: Geography, Energy, The Dollar And Gold | Zero Hedge

The New New Great Game: Geography, Energy, The Dollar And Gold | Zero Hedge.

Submitted by Paul Mylchreest of Monument Securities

The New New Great Game: Geography, Energy, The Dollar and Gold (pdf link)

Sir Halford Mackinder’s 1904 speach in which he outlined his “Heartland Theory” was a founding moment for geo-politics. He argued that control of the Eurasian landmass (Europe, Asia and the Middle East), which contained the bulk of the world’s population and natural resources, was the major geo-political prize.

As time passed, energy (first crude oil then natural gas), became increasingly integral to this concept and its strategic significance cannot be overstated.

Remarkably, Mackinder’s theory has remained equally valid, if not more so, in the modern era – although key “pivot areas” for exercising control have evolved. In addition to Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus in Mackinder’s day, the oil producing nations of the Middle East took on increasing importance in the “New Great Game”.

The geo-political confrontation between the US on one hand and China (in increasingly close cooperation with Russia) on the other, is evolving rapidly. We see a “New New Great Game” (NNGG) emerging and have “tweaked” the Heartland Theory to include.

An additional geographic “pivot”, the South and East China Seas, due to their importance in terms of world trade, oil and gas reserves and numerous territorial claims.

A monetary “pivot”, the dollar-based system of world trade and its reserve status. China is taking the lead role in pushing ahead with its strategy of dismantling the dollar’s supremacy.

Geo-political tension in each of the pivot areas is escalating. For example Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus (Ukraine), Middle East (Iran) and South and East China Seas (Senkaku Islands). The rising powers, China and Russia, are adopting more aggressive geo-political tactics towards US/EU/NATO/Japanese interests. The more “dovish” US policy towards Iran, following the recent nuclear deal, is threatening to destabilise the decades-long status quo in diplomatic relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Just about every aspect of the escalating geo-political tension has an energy element, either directly or indirectly. Viewed from a “Mackinderian” perspective, the strategic value of the energy sector is immense. It begs the question whether, after five years of underperformance, the equity market is under-pricing energy assets, including those deeply out-of-favour integrated oil and gas stocks? Probably, in our view.

We believe that the significance of the monetary pivot in the NNGG is under-estimated as China accelerates preparations to undermine the dollar’s role in world trade. The other aspect of China’s strategy is its diversification into “hard assets” and, as far as we can tell, China is attempting to “corner” the market for physical gold. Its strategic significance is lost on most Western investors. We present some insights into today’s gold market which might shock Western investors – similarities with the run-up to the major lows in the gold price more than a decade ago – and China’s understanding of modern gold market mechanics.

The threats to the existing US-centric order are substantial and the geo-political sands are shifting. The US will respond and has the largest economy and military (with vast ocean-going naval advantage), most powerful investment banks and deepest financial markets and significant (albeit declining) political/diplomatic influence. In terms of boxing metaphors, we wonder whether the Ali versus Foreman fight in Kinshasa in 1974 (knockout in the eighth) or the Leonard versus Hagler fight at Caesar’s Palace in 1987 (points victory where the argument as to who actually won continues) will be the parallel.

* * *

From an anonymous source prior to the major lows in the gold price more than a decade ago.

“Someone once said, ‘no one wants gold, that’s why the US$ price keeps falling.’ Many thinking ones laugh at such foolish chatter. They know that the price of gold is dropping precisely because ‘too many people are buying it’! Think now, if you are a person of ‘great worth’ is it not better for you to acquire gold over years, at better prices? If you are one of ‘small worth’, can you not follow in the footsteps of giants? The real money is selling ALL FORMS of paper gold and buying physical! Why? Because any form of paper gold is losing value much, much faster than metal. Some paper will disappear all together in a fire of epic proportions! The massive trading continues at LBMA, but something is now missing…We have reached production costs…The great mistake by the BIS was in underestimating the Asians. Some big traders said they would buy it all below $365+/- and they did. That’s what forced LBMA to go on a spree of paper selling! Now, it’s a mess.”

Interesting?

The gold price is approaching production cost again.

We have the physical versus paper demarcation again (most commentators are clueless on this – the paper market is still determining the screen price, but it will probably die once and for all this time around – the question is at what level?).

The Asians are being underestimated again when the price is declining (although not by the BIS – China is buying physical gold in unprecedented volumes – at least 70-75% of world mining production this year).

But accelerating developments in the monetary sphere is only one element of…

The “New New Great Game”

Mackinder’s “Heartland Theory”

The traditional “Great Game” obviously dates back to the geo-political rivalry between Great Britain and Russia for supremacy in the central Asian region during the nineteenth and early part of the last century. In his famous speech, “The Geographical Pivot of History”, to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, Sir Halford Mackinder outlined his “Heartland Theory. ” According to Wikipedia.

“This is often considered a, if not the, founding moment of geo-politics…”

Briefly, this posited that the major geo-political prize is Eurasia (the “World Island”), i.e. the European, Asian and Middle Eastern land mass, which contained the bulk of the world’s population and its natural resources. Mackinder argued that control of the “pivot area“ of central Asia was the key to controlling Eurasia.

This is taken from his paper published in the April 1904 edition of the “The Geographical Journal.”

He also emphasised the important difference between sea power and land power. From Zurich-based ISN’s 2009 “Geopolitics and US Middle Eastern Policy: Mackinder and Brzezinski.”

“Mackinder’s theory was a counter-argument to notions that maritime supremacy was sufficient for a power such as Great Britain to safeguard its hegemony. He claimed that, with the emergence of new transportation routes [e.g. Trans-Siberian railway] and technology, a power that could control the centre (and the abundant resources) of the Eurasian landmass…would ultimately be able to attack the colonies of a sea power everywhere on the continent. “

The Trans-Siberian Railway.

In the wake of World War One, Mackinder argued the case for preventing a convergence of interests between Russia and new “pivot” states of Eastern Europe (Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland). This led to his famous dictum.

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island;
Who rules the World Island commands the World.”

It’s important to emphasise that the pivot area does evolve/fluctuate with changes in geo-political reality. Indeed, Mackinder included the Baltic states in one of his revisions.

As the world industrialised and became increasingly dependent on crude oil (and later, natural gas), energy resources became ever more integral to the Great Game. With such a large proportion of the world’s oil and gas reserves found on the Eurasian land mass, this was easily accommodated within Mackinder’s theory.

The period just before World War One, with the British Navy’s switch from coal to oil and the adoption of the automobile, set the stage for this. Indeed, in 1913, the British government acquired a 51% controlling interest in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the forerunner of BP.

Remarkably, the validity of Mackinder’s theory has stood the test of time, even though most people are unfamiliar with it. The following quote is from the Reagan Administration’s “National Security Strategy of the United States” published in January 1988.

“The first historical dimension of our strategy is relatively simple, clear-cut, and immensely sensible. It is the conviction that the United States’ most basic national security interests would be endangered if a hostile state or group of states were to dominate the Eurasian land mass – that area of the globe often referred to as the world’s heartland.”

Right now, it’s obvious that US national security interests are threatened by a combination of China and Russia.

This was the influential globalist (and former National Security Advisor), Zbigniew Brzezinski, writing in his famous 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard.”

“Ever since the continents started interacting politically some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the centre of world power… For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia – and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

In the “New Great Game”, (NGG) of the modern era, the major rivalry is between US/NATO on one side and China, Russia, other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the likes of Iran, on the other.

The “pivot states” in the NGG are.

  • The key nations in Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus: especially those with substantial energy resources and/or pipelines (e.g. Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc). Here is a chart showing the major gas pipelines

And the major oil pipelines:

  • The major OPEC nations of the Middle East: here we borrow part of US geo-strategist, Nicholas Spykman’s, “Rimland” theory. Spykman, the “godfather of containment” was both a disciple and critic of Mackinder. He believed that the “Rimland”, European coast, Arabian-Middle Eastern desert and Asiatic Monsoon region was more important for controlling the Heartland.

This was Brzezinksi on the Central Asian Republics, or “Eurasian Balkans” as he terms them in his book. This was in 1997, when China’s economic and military might was still a distant prospect.

“They are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most important and more powerful neighbours, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signalling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize; an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals including gold.”

It’s a reminder of the strategic importance of energy and gold and puts the US-supported “Color revolutions” into sharper focus – Ukraine (Orange, 2004), Georgia (Rose, 2003) and Kyrgyzstan (Tulip, 2005).

Tweaking the Heartland Theory

We agree with the modern interpretation of the NGG, but we see TWO additional elements which make the current situation a “New New Great Game.”

… continue reading below (pdf link)

 

Japan set to buy $240B worth of hi-tech weapons | StratRisks

Japan set to buy $240B worth of hi-tech weapons | StratRisks.

Source: NewsInfo

Japan set to buy $240B worth of hi-tech weapons

TOKYO—Japan announced on Tuesday that it would buy stealth fighters, drones and submarines as part of a splurge on military hardware that would beef up defense of far-flung islands amid a simmering territorial row with China.

The Cabinet of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to spend 24.7 trillion yen ($240 billion) between 2014 and 2019 in a strategic shift toward the south and west of the country—a 5-percent boost to the military budget over five years.

The shopping list is part of efforts by Abe to normalize the military in Japan, which has been officially pacifist since its defeat in World War II. Its well-equipped and highly professional services are limited to a narrowly defined self-defensive role.

Abe’s plan to upgrade Japan’s military capability comes with the establishment of a US-style National Security Council that is expected to concentrate greater power in the hands of a smaller number of senior politicians and bureaucrats.

Fears are growing in Japan over the rising power of China, with the two countries embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islands in the East China Sea, and the perennial menace posed by an unpredictable North Korea.

Joint defense force

New guidelines approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday said Tokyo would introduce a “dynamic joint defense force,” intended to help air, land and sea forces work together more effectively.

Abe said the shift would allow Japan’s military to better shoulder its responsibilities on the global stage, through what he has promoted as “proactive pacifism.”

“We hope to make further contributions to the peace and stability of the international community through proactive pacifism,” he said. “This shows with transparency our country’s diplomatic and defense policies.”

Spending will be raised to 24.7 trillion yen over five years from April 2014, up from the present 23.5 trillion yen over the five years to March 2014, but the figure could be trimmed by up to 700 billion yen if the defense ministry can find savings and efficiencies.

New hardware will include 3 drones, 52 amphibious vehicles, 17 Osprey hybrid choppers and 5 submarines—all designed to boost maritime surveillance and bolster defense of islands.

The spending will also encompass two destroyers equipped with the Aegis antimissile system and 28 new F-35 fighter jets, a stealth plane far superior to the F-15s that Japan currently has in service.

Analysts noted that much of this kit will replace obsolete equipment, but the shift in military priorities is evident.

“The guidelines underscore a clear shift of Japan’s major defense focus to the protection of its islands in the East China Sea,” said Hideshi Takesada, an expert on regional security at Takushoku University in Tokyo.

During the Cold War, Japan’s military was largely static, with the majority of resources in the north and east to guard against any invasion by Russia.

Changing dynamics

But changing dynamics and in particular the rise of China—where double-digit rises in defense spending are the annual norm—mean that Japan’s armed forces need to be located further south and to be able to deploy to the country’s many far-flung islands.

“The guidelines show Japan’s readiness for practical defense if China’s bluff turns to be real military action,” Takesada said.

Regional tensions were ratcheted up last month when China abruptly declared a new air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, including overdisputed Tokyo-controlled islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Abe on Saturday denounced the declaration and demanded Beijing retract it immediately and unconditionally, after a summit with Southeast Asian leaders where a joint statement called for freedom of travel on the seas and in the air.

Beijing issued a sharp rebuke, singling out Abe for “slanderous remarks.”

The guidelines also call for Japan to boost its missile defense system to counter “a grave and imminent threat” from North Korea.

 

‘Pacifist’ Japan Launches “No Guts But All The War Spending Glory” Military Plan | Zero Hedge

‘Pacifist’ Japan Launches “No Guts But All The War Spending Glory” Military Plan | Zero Hedge.

We warned last week of the rising nationalism and concerns about Abe’s intentions and this evening the escalating tensions in the East China Sea are clear once again. In an effort to “normalize” an officially ‘pacifist’ policy, a hawkish Abe announced that Japan has tonight increased its military budget notably to buy drones, amphibious vehicles, submarines, and vertical take-off aircraft to boost defenses around the remote Senkaku islands. It seems the farce is getting more surreal as Japan also considers obtaining the means to counter ballistic missiles the point of launch. Why go to war and risk it all by printing and deficit spending your country into oblivion for a ‘purpose’ when you can do it without spilling a drop of blood?

Via AFP,

Japan said Tuesday it intends to boost military spending by five percent over the next five years, with a hardware splurge intended to beef up defence of far-flung territories amid a corrosive row with China.

The cabinet of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed 24.7 trillion yen ($240 billion) would be spent between 2014 and 2019, including on drones, submarines, fighter jets and amphibious vehicles, in a strategic shift towards the south and west.

The shopping list is part of efforts by Abe to normalise the military in Japan, which has been officially pacifist since defeat in World War II. Its well-equipped and highly professional services are limited to a narrowly defined self-defensive role.

New defence guidelines approved by the cabinet on Tuesday said Tokyo will introduce a “dynamic joint defence force,” intended to help air, land and sea forces work together more effectively in the face of danger.

“China … is taking dangerous action that can draw unexpected contingencies,” said the guidelines.

Via Bloomberg,

The government will also consider obtaining the means to counter ballistic missiles at the point of launch, according to new security plans which set a total five-year budget of 24.67 trillion yen ($239 billion), up about 1 trillion yen on the previous five-year plan.

Japan will set up a marines-style force to deal with any island incursions, equipping it with 17 tiltrotor aircraft and 52 amphibious vehicles, as well as three surveillance drones, according to documents given to reporters in advance.

Of course, the populism garnered by such a move is worrisome as these two powers engage in a bigger and bigger pissing match; but it seems, as we warned here, that no matter the cost, there may be war. Bear in mind this move comes on top of passing the Secrecy bill last week.

The right to know has now been officially superseded by the right of the government to make sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know. It might all seems like a bad joke, except for the Orwellian nature of the bill and a key Cabinet member expressing his admiration for the Nazis, “just as Germany needed a strong man like Hitler to revive defeated Germany, Japan needs people like Abe to dynamically induce change.”

We are sure the world (and the BoJ) will be more than happy to fund this latest Keynesian black hole.

 

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge.

Events in the East China Sea since 2009 have thrust to the forefront the following frightening question: will China and Japan imminently go to war? Conventional answers in the affirmative point to the deep level of historical mistrust and a certain level of “unfinished business” in East Asian international politics, stemming from the heyday of Showa Japan’s imperialism across Asia. Those on the negative often point to the astronomical economic costs that would follow from a war that pinned the world’s first and third largest economies against its second in a fight over a few measly islands, undersea hydrocarbon reserves be damned.

I can’t pretend to arbitrate between these two camps but I find that far too many observers sympathize with the second camp based on rational impulse. Of course China and Japan wouldn’t fight a war! That’d ruin their economies! I sympathize with the Clausewtizean notion of war being a continuation of politics “by other means,” and the problems caused by information asymmetries (effectively handicapping rational decision-making), but the situation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands can result in war even if the top leaders in Tokyo and Beijing are eminently rational.

Political scientist James D. Fearon’s path-breaking article “Rationalist Explanations for War” provides a still-relevant schema that’s wonderfully applicable to the contemporary situation between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Fearon’s paper was initially relevant because it challenged the overly simplistic rationalist’s dogma: if war is so costly, then there has to be some sort of diplomatic solution that is preferable to all parties involved — barring information asymmetries and communication deficits, such an agreement should and will be signed.

Of course, this doesn’t correspond to reality where we know that many incredibly costly wars have been fought (from the first World War to the Iran-Iraq War). So, if wars are costly — as one over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is likely to be — why do they still occur? Well, the answer isn’t Japanese imperialism or because states just sometimes irrationally dislike each other (as the affirmative camp would argue). It’s more subtle.

Fearon’s “bargaining model” assumes a few dictums about state knowledge, behavior and expectations ex ante. I’ll cast the remainder of the model in terms of Japan and China since they’re our subjects of interest (and to avoid floating off into academic abstractions).

First, China and Japan both know that there is an actual probability distribution of the likely outcomes of the war. They don’t know what the actual distribution is, but they can estimate what is likely in terms of the costs and outcomes of going to war. For example, Japan can predict that it would suffer relatively low naval losses and would strengthen its administrative control of the islands; China could predict the same outcome, or it could interpret things in its favor. In essence, they acknowledge that war is predictable in its unpredictability.

Second, China and Japan want to limit risk or are neutral to risk, but definitely do not crave risk. War is fundamentally risky so this is tantamount to an acknowledgement that war is costlier than maintaining peace or negotiating an ex ante diplomatic solution.

The third assumption is a little dressed up in academic jargon: there can be no “issue indivisibility.” In plain English, this essentially means that whatever the states are fighting over (usually territory, but it could be a pot of gold) can be divided between them in an infinite number of ways on a line going from zero to one.Imagine that zero is Japan’s ideal preference (total Japanese control of the Senkakus and acknowledgement as such by China) and one is China’s ideal preference (total Chinese control of Diaoyu and acknowledgement by Japan). Fearon’s assumption requires that there exist points like 0.23 and 0.83 (and so forth) which set up some sort sharing between the warring parties. Even solutions, such as one proposed by Zheng Wang here at The Diplomat to establish a “peace zone,” could sit on this line.

If the third assumption sounds the shakiest to you that’s probably because it is. “Issue indivisibility” is a nasty problem and a subject of quite some research. It usually is at the heart of wars that seek to decide which state should control a territory such as a Holy City (the intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict is said to be plagued by indivisible issues).

So, is the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu fundamentally indivisible? Probably in the sense of splitting sovereignty over the islands, but probably not in the sense of some ex ante bargain similar to what Zheng proposed. Even if the set of solutions isn’t infinitely divisible, whatever finite solutions exist might not fall within whatever range of solutions either Japan or China is willing to tolerate — leading to war.

Fearon actually doesn’t buy the indivisibility-leading-to-war theory himself. He reasons that generally almost every issue is complex enough to be divisible to a degree acceptable by each party (undermining the infinite divisibility requirement), and that states can link issues and offer payments to offset any asymmetrical outcome. In the Senkaku/Diaoyu case, this would mean a solution could hinge upon Japan making a broader apology for its aggression against China in the 20th century or China taking a harsher stance on North Korea (both unlikely).

Relevant to the Air Defense Identification Zone is Fearon’s description of war arising between rational states due to incentives to misrepresent capabilities. China and Japan’s leaders know more about their country’s actual willingness to go to war than anyone else, and it benefits to signal strong resolve on the issue to extract more concessions in any potential deal.Japan announcing its willingness to shoot down Chinese drones earlier this year and its most recent defense plans are example of this, and China’s ADIZ is probably the archetype of such a signal. Instead of extracting a good deal, what such declarations can do is force rational hands to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Fearon’s final explanation — regarding commitment problems leading to war — is slightly ancillary to the core discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands given Japan’s constitutional restraints on the use of force (rendering preemptive, preventative, and offensive wars largely irrelevant in the Japanese case). Regardless, the point remains that even if the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands might seem like a terribly silly thing for the world’s second and third largest economies to go to war over, war can still be likely.

As I observe events in the East China Sea, I mostly recall Fearon’s warnings on certain types of signals leading to brinksmanship (the divisibility issue is far murkier). Both Japan and China don’t seem to be relenting on these sorts of deleterious signals. Additionally, given that Chinese and Japanese diplomats haven’t had high-level contact in fourteen months, even the more primitive rationalist’s explanation, that war occurs because a lack of communication leads to rational miscalculations, becomes plausible.

A reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

 

 

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge.

Overnight rhetoric in Asia became increasingly heated when China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “strong dissastisfaction” at the slanderous actions of Abe’s Japanese government over the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the “theft and embezzlement” of the Diaoyu Islands. “Japan’s attempt is doomed to failure,” China warned ominously and as we highlight below, a reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

The ‘triangle’ of doom in the East China Sea…

Via Google Translate,

Q: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held in Japan recently – especially during the ASEAN summit, accusing China to unilaterally change the status of the East China Sea, East China Sea, said China’s air defense identification zone designation is improper for the high seas against the freedom of overflight, asked China to revoke the measure. What is your comment?

A: We have made some Japanese leaders use international slanderous remarks China expresses strong dissatisfaction.

Diaoyu Islands are China’s inherent territory. Japan over the Diaoyu Islands theft and embezzlement have always been illegal and invalid. Since last year, the Japanese deliberately provoked the Diaoyu Islands dispute, unilaterally change the status quo of the Diaoyu Islands issue is none other than the Japanese themselves. In this regard, the Chinese law to take the necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial fully justified, blameless.

East China’s air defense identification zone designation is intended to protect national defense aviation security measures, consistent with international law and international practice, do not affect the countries of aircraft overflight freedoms enjoyed under international law. Deliberate on this issue in Japan to China to launch an attack, an attempt to tamper with the concept, the implementation of double standards, mislead international public opinion, Japan’s attempt is doomed to failure.

“Rationalist Explanations For War” In The East China Sea

Submitted by Ankit Panda of The Diplomat,

Events in the East China Sea since 2009 have thrust to the forefront the following frightening question: will China and Japan imminently go to war? Conventional answers in the affirmative point to the deep level of historical mistrust and a certain level of “unfinished business” in East Asian international politics, stemming from the heyday of Showa Japan’s imperialism across Asia. Those on the negative often point to the astronomical economic costs that would follow from a war that pinned the world’s first and third largest economies against its second in a fight over a few measly islands, undersea hydrocarbon reserves be damned.

I can’t pretend to arbitrate between these two camps but I find that far too many observers sympathize with the second camp based on rational impulse. Of course China and Japan wouldn’t fight a war! That’d ruin their economies! I sympathize with the Clausewtizean notion of war being a continuation of politics “by other means,” and the problems caused by information asymmetries (effectively handicapping rational decision-making), but the situation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands can result in war even if the top leaders in Tokyo and Beijing are eminently rational.

Political scientist James D. Fearon’s path-breaking article “Rationalist Explanations for War” provides a still-relevant schema that’s wonderfully applicable to the contemporary situation between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Fearon’s paper was initially relevant because it challenged the overly simplistic rationalist’s dogma: if war is so costly, then there has to be some sort of diplomatic solution that is preferable to all parties involved — barring information asymmetries and communication deficits, such an agreement should and will be signed.

Of course, this doesn’t correspond to reality where we know that many incredibly costly wars have been fought (from the first World War to the Iran-Iraq War). So, if wars are costly — as one over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is likely to be — why do they still occur? Well, the answer isn’t Japanese imperialism or because states just sometimes irrationally dislike each other (as the affirmative camp would argue). It’s more subtle.

Fearon’s “bargaining model” assumes a few dictums about state knowledge, behavior and expectations ex ante. I’ll cast the remainder of the model in terms of Japan and China since they’re our subjects of interest (and to avoid floating off into academic abstractions).

First, China and Japan both know that there is an actual probability distribution of the likely outcomes of the war. They don’t know what the actual distribution is, but they can estimate what is likely in terms of the costs and outcomes of going to war. For example, Japan can predict that it would suffer relatively low naval losses and would strengthen its administrative control of the islands; China could predict the same outcome, or it could interpret things in its favor. In essence, they acknowledge that war is predictable in its unpredictability.

Second, China and Japan want to limit risk or are neutral to risk, but definitely do not crave risk. War is fundamentally risky so this is tantamount to an acknowledgement that war is costlier than maintaining peace or negotiating an ex ante diplomatic solution.

The third assumption is a little dressed up in academic jargon: there can be no “issue indivisibility.” In plain English, this essentially means that whatever the states are fighting over (usually territory, but it could be a pot of gold) can be divided between them in an infinite number of ways on a line going from zero to one. Imagine that zero is Japan’s ideal preference (total Japanese control of the Senkakus and acknowledgement as such by China) and one is China’s ideal preference (total Chinese control of Diaoyu and acknowledgement by Japan). Fearon’s assumption requires that there exist points like 0.23 and 0.83 (and so forth) which set up some sort sharing between the warring parties. Even solutions, such as one proposed by Zheng Wang here at The Diplomat to establish a “peace zone,” could sit on this line.

If the third assumption sounds the shakiest to you that’s probably because it is. “Issue indivisibility” is a nasty problem and a subject of quite some research. It usually is at the heart of wars that seek to decide which state should control a territory such as a Holy City (the intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict is said to be plagued by indivisible issues).

So, is the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu fundamentally indivisible? Probably in the sense of splitting sovereignty over the islands, but probably not in the sense of some ex ante bargain similar to what Zheng proposed. Even if the set of solutions isn’t infinitely divisible, whatever finite solutions exist might not fall within whatever range of solutions either Japan or China is willing to tolerate — leading to war.

Fearon actually doesn’t buy the indivisibility-leading-to-war theory himself. He reasons that generally almost every issue is complex enough to be divisible to a degree acceptable by each party (undermining the infinite divisibility requirement), and that states can link issues and offer payments to offset any asymmetrical outcome. In the Senkaku/Diaoyu case, this would mean a solution could hinge upon Japan making a broader apology for its aggression against China in the 20th century or China taking a harsher stance on North Korea (both unlikely).

Relevant to the Air Defense Identification Zone is Fearon’s description of war arising between rational states due to incentives to misrepresent capabilities. China and Japan’s leaders know more about their country’s actual willingness to go to war than anyone else, and it benefits to signal strong resolve on the issue to extract more concessions in any potential deal. Japan announcing its willingness to shoot down Chinese drones earlier this year and its most recent defense plans are example of this, and China’s ADIZ is probably the archetype of such a signal. Instead of extracting a good deal, what such declarations can do is force rational hands to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Fearon’s final explanation — regarding commitment problems leading to war — is slightly ancillary to the core discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands given Japan’s constitutional restraints on the use of force (rendering preemptive, preventative, and offensive wars largely irrelevant in the Japanese case). Regardless, the point remains that even if the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands might seem like a terribly silly thing for the world’s second and third largest economies to go to war over, war can still be likely.

As I observe events in the East China Sea, I mostly recall Fearon’s warnings on certain types of signals leading to brinksmanship (the divisibility issue is far murkier). Both Japan and China don’t seem to be relenting on these sorts of deleterious signals. Additionally, given that Chinese and Japanese diplomats haven’t had high-level contact in fourteen months, even the more primitive rationalist’s explanation, that war occurs because a lack of communication leads to rational miscalculations, becomes plausible.

A reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

 

US, Chinese Warships “Nearly Collide” In South China Sea | Zero Hedge

US, Chinese Warships “Nearly Collide” In South China Sea | Zero Hedge. With the recent deployment of China’s air defenze zone, and the subsequent announcement of a comparable zone by South Korea which overlaps not only with China’s own, but with that of Japan, it almost seems like a scenario designed to provoke an escalating conflict on the tiniest of provocations is actively being produced. A scenario such as the one US defense officials revealed today, when a guided missile cruiser operating in international waters in the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action last week to avoid a collision with a Chinese navy ship maneuvering nearby. Hold on: how can two massive ships, visible to the naked eye and certainly to radar from hundreds of miles away, “nearly collide”? Reuters reports that the incident took place on December 5 and involved the USS Cowpens. The Pacific Fleet statement did not offer details about what led to the near-collision. But it did say the incident underscored the need for the “highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.” The rest of the story is widely known:

Beijing declared the air defense zone over the East China Sea late last month and demanded that aircraft flying through the area provide it with flight plans and other information.   The United States and its allies rejected the Chinese demand and have continued to fly military aircraft into the zone, which includes air space over a small group of islands claimed by China but currently administered by Tokyo.   In the midst of the tensions over the air defense zone, China deployed its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to the South China Sea for maneuvers. Beijing claims most of the South China Sea and is involved in territorial disputes in the region with several of its neighbors.

And so, the waters have been tested, so to speak, with a media “warning” on just how brazen China can be when it comes to its “aggressive” tactics in what we are confident the Chinese media will describe as its own maritime territory, begging the question of just who was provoking whom, especially since the response to a Chinese missile cruiser sailing idly by New York or San Francisco, even if in “international waters”, would hardly see the same controlled reaction by the US. Then again, it has been only two weeks since China’s most recent “escalation.” We are confident that given time, this will be the least of the close shipping encounters that involve Chinese, US, Japanese and/or Korean navies in the East China Sea. After all, one must think of all that, GDP that as WWII taught us, can be easiest gained through some modest, or not so modest, international conflict.

 

Some Stunning Perspective: China Money Creation Blows US And Japan Out Of The Water | Zero Hedge

Some Stunning Perspective: China Money Creation Blows US And Japan Out Of The Water | Zero Hedge.

With private sector loan creation in the US and Japan virtually unchanged since Lehman levels (and the US in danger of posting a negative comp in a very months) and Europe loan creation contracting at a record pace, it falls upon the Fed and Bank of Japan (and possibly the ECB soon) to inject the much needed credit-money liquidity into the system. And, as everyone knows, month after month the Fed and the BOJ diligently create $85 billion and $75 billion in new outside money out of thin air (that this “credit” ends up in the stock market is a different topic).

So to help readers get a sense of perspective how the US and Japan compare when matched to China, below we present a chart showing the fixed monthly “money” creation by the Fed and the BOJ compared to the most comprehensive money supply aggregate available in China – the Total Social Financing – for the month of November. The chart speaks for itself.

Basically, while everyone focuses on the breakneck money creation by the Fed and the BOJ, what happened in the past month is that China quietly created some 20% more money. Perhaps most impotantly, between these three entities, nearly $400 billion in liquidity was created de novo in one month! Because when the entire world is a credit-fueled ponzi scheme, these are the kind of numbers that matter.

For those curious, here is a more detailed breakdown of the Chinese numbers from Bank of America.

New bank loans and TSF rebounded notably in November

Despite higher and volatile interbank rates and rising bond yields, credit growth remained quite robust towards year-end. Two most watched data points, new bank loans and Total Social Financing (TSF), rebounded notably to RMB625bn and RMB1230bn respectively in November from RMB506bn and RMB856bn in October. YoY bank loan growth remained unchanged at 14.2%, while yoy outstanding TSF growth moderated to 19.5% from 19.7%. Today’s money & credit data should be positive for markets which have been worried that the PBoC could tighten credit supply to reduce leverage by citing rising bond yields and interbank rates.

Details of TSF: All financing activities accelerated

  • New entrusted loans rebounded notably to RMB270bn in November from RMB183bn in October, while new trust loans increased to RMB102bn from RMB40bn.
  • New corporate bond rose to RMB138bn in November from RMB107bn in October. We note that government and coporates delayed their bond issuance or scaled down the size after bond yield soared, but the net corporate bond issuance in TSF still rebounded due to a smaller amount of expiry in November from October.
  • New FX loan edged up to RMB12bn in November from RMB5bn in October.
  • Non-discounted bankers acceptance (BA) increased by RMB6bn in November after falling RMB40bn in October. We think the monthly numbers are particularly volatile, and there is no need to overly-interpret it (This is also the reason why we exclude it from calculating our revised TSF growth.)

Loan details: demand for working capital remained decent

  • New MLT corporate loans fell to RMB86bn in November from RMB144bn in October. Concerning seasonality, the number is not low. Note that it dropped to –RMB3bn in November 2012 from RMB169bn in October 2012 despite supportive policies and recovering growth momentum then. We believe policies would remain relative neutral in coming months and there could be no sudden reversal of policies.
  • New short-term corporate loans rose to RMB241bn in November from RMB215bn in October. Meanwhile, discounted bills also increased by RMB19bn after falling RMB71bn. It suggests loan demand for working capital remained decent.
  • New MLT loans to household (mainly mortgage loans) rebounded to RMB182bn in November from RMB154bn in October, supported by strong home sales momentum in previous months. New short-term loans to households rose to RMB80bn in November from RMB51bn in October, reflecting that SME loans could remain supported.

* * *

So how long before the developed and developing world “have” to create $1 trillion or more in money supply each month to keep the house of cards from toppling?

 

 

Japan Press: “China-Japan War To Break Out In January” | Zero Hedge

Japan Press: “China-Japan War To Break Out In January” | Zero Hedge.

Following China’s unveiling of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, overlapping a large expanse of territory also claimed by Japan, the Japanese media has, as The Japan Times reports, had a dramatically visceral reaction on the various scenarios of a shooting war. From Sunday Mainichi’s “Sino-Japanese war to break out in January,” to Flash’s “Simulated breakout of war over the Senkakus,” the nationalism (that Kyle Bass so notably commented on) is rising. Which side, wonders Shukan Gendai ominously, will respond to a provocation by pulling the trigger?The game of chicken between two great superpowers is about to begin has begun.

Via The Japan Times,

Five out of nine weekly magazines that went on sale last Monday and Tuesday contained scenarios that raised the possibility of a shooting war.

 

 

First, let’s take Flash (Dec. 17), which ran a “Simulated breakout of war over the Senkakus,” with Mamoru Sato, a former Air Self-Defense Force general, providing editorial supervision.Flash’s scenario has the same tense tone as a Clancy novel, including dialog. On a day in August 2014, a radar operator instructs patrolling F-15J pilots to “scramble north” at an altitude of 65,000 feet to intercept a suspected intruder and proceeds from there.

 

Sunday Mainichi (Dec. 15) ran an article headlined “Sino-Japanese war to break out in January.” Political reporter Takao Toshikawa tells the magazine that the key to what happens next will depend on China’s economy.

 

“The economic situation in China is pretty rough right now, and from the start of next year it’s expected to worsen,” says Toshikawa. “The real-estate boom is headed for a total collapse and the economic disparities between the costal regions and the interior continue to widen. I see no signs that the party’s Central Committee is getting matters sorted out.”

 

An unnamed diplomatic source offered the prediction that the Chinese might very well set off an incident “accidentally on purpose”: “I worry about the possibility they might force down a civilian airliner and hold the passengers hostage,” he suggested.

 

In an article described as a “worst-case simulation,” author Osamu Eya expressed concerns in Shukan Asahi Geino (Dec. 12) that oil supertankers bound for Japan might be targeted.

 

“Japan depends on sea transport for oil and other material resources,” said Eya. “If China were to target them, nothing could be worse to contemplate.”

 

In an air battle over the Senkakus, the Geino article continues, superiority of radar communications would be a key factor in determining the outcome. Japanese forces have five fixed radar stations in Kyushu and four in Okinawa. China would certainly target these, which would mean surrounding communities would also be vulnerable.

 

One question that seems to be on almost everybody’s mind is, will the U.S. military become involved?

 

Shukan Gendai (Dec. 14) speculated that Chinese leader Xi Jinping might issue an order for a Japanese civilian airliner to be shot down. As a result of this, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier would come to Japan’s aid and send up fighters to contend with the Chinese.

 

Unlike Japan, the U.S. military would immediately respond to a radar lock-on threat by shooting down the Chinese planes,” asserts military analyst Mitsuhiro Sera. “It would naturally regard an aircraft flying overhead as hostile. They would shoot at it even if that were to risk discrediting the Obama administration.”

 

“With the creation of Japan’s National Security Council on Dec. 4, Japan-U.S. solidarity meets a new era,” an unnamed diplomatic source told Shukan Gendai. “If a clash were to occur between the U.S. and China, it would be natural for the Self-Defense Forces to provide backup assistance. This was confirmed at the ‘two-plus-two’ meeting on Oct. 3.”

 

“China is bent on wresting the Senkakus away from Japan, and if Japan dispatches its Self-Defense Forces, China will respond with naval and air forces,” Saburo Takai predicts in Flash. “In the case of an incursion by irregular forces, that would make it more difficult for the U.S. to become involved. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would protest through diplomatic channels, but China would attempt to present its takeover as a fait accompli.

 

“China fears a direct military confrontation with the U.S.,” Takai adds. “A few days ago, two U.S. B-52s transited the ADIZ claimed by China, but the flights were not for any vague purpose. I suppose the Chinese tracked the flights on their radar, but the B-52s have electronic detection functions that can identify radar frequencies, wavelength and source of the signals. These flights are able to lay bare China’s air defense systems. It really hits home to the Chinese that they can’t project their military power.”

 

Which side, wonders Shukan Gendai, will respond to a provocation by pulling the trigger? The game of chicken between two great superpowers is about to begin.

 

 

South Korea extends its air defence zone to overlap with China’s | World news | theguardian.com

South Korea extends its air defence zone to overlap with China’s | World news | theguardian.com.

A maritime science research station on the South Korea-controlled underwater reef of Ieodo
A maritime science research station on the South Korea-controlled underwater reef of Ieodo. Photograph: Yonhap/EPA

South Korea says it has extended its air defence zone to partially overlap with a similar zone declared by China two weeks ago that has sharply raised regional tensions.

Beijing’s declaration of an air defence identification zone in an area that includes islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan has triggered protests from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Announcing the expansion of its own zone to include two territorial islands to the south and a submerged rock also claimed by China, South Korea’s defence ministry said the move would not infringe on neighbouring countries’ sovereignty.

“We believe this will not significantly impact our relationships with China and with Japan as we try to work for peace and co-operation in north-east Asia,” defence ministry head of policy Jang Hyuk told a briefing.

“We have explained our position to related countries and overall they are in agreement that this move complies with international regulations and is not an excessive measure,” he said, adding the ministry’s top priority was to work with neighbouring countries to prevent military confrontation.

South Korea had objected to last month’s move by China as unacceptable because its new zone includes a maritime rock named Ieodo, which Seoul controls, with a research station platform built on it. China also claims the submerged rock.

But South Korea’s reaction to Beijing has been more measured than the sharp rebukes delivered from Tokyo and Washington, reflecting a sensitivity towards Seoul’s largest trading partner.

The extension of South Korea’s zone will not apply any restrictions to the operation of commercial flights, the defence ministry said separately in a statement. The move would take effect on 15 December, it said. It will also overlap with Japan’s air defence zone, Jang said.

There was no immediate reaction from China, although Beijing’s response to news last week that South Korea was reviewing its options on the air defence zone was relatively low key.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday that any move by South Korea must “accord with international law and norms”, but added: “China is willing to maintain communications with South Korea on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”

The decision by China that kicked off the latest spat was the subject of a tense disagreement as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, visited China last week, stressing Washington’s objections to the move that he said caused “significant apprehension” in the region.

Japan’s defence minister, on a visit to the Philippines on Sunday, called on the international community to oppose China’s zone and any move to establish a similar zone over the disputed South China Sea.

Itsunori Onodera discussed Japan’s concern over China’s action separately with the Philippines defence secretary, Voltaire Gazmin, and Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

In his meeting with Bishop, Onodera said he mentioned that the international community “should meet to deal with this matter together” and that any unilateral action by coercive means should be opposed.

“If any country would establish a similar air zone in the South China Sea, that would bring up tension in the region and I mentioned that should be stopped,” he told reporters in Tacloban, where he visited a school serving as a shelter for villagers who lost their homes in last month’s typhoon.

He said that the issue should be resolved by dialogue.

China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing, said last week it was Beijing’s right to decide “where and when to set up” an air identification zone. She was asked about a possibility that China might set up a similar zone over the South China Sea.

Ma did not say if China would set up such a zone.

Onodera said China’s unilateral action violated the spirit of the International Civil Aviation Organization treaty.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained for months by the dispute over the islands in the East China Sea, called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan.

Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, but recognises Tokyo’s administrative control and says a US-Japan security pact applies to them.

Beijing says its zone is in accordance with international law and Washington and others should respect it.

Under the Chinese zone’s rules, all aircraft have to report flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain radio contact and reply promptly to identification inquiries.

US, Japanese and South Korean military aircraft have breached the zone without informing Beijing since it was announced. South Korean and Japanese commercial planes have also been advised by their governments not to follow the rules.

 

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