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PLA Officer: China Must Establish South China Sea ADIZ | The Diplomat

PLA Officer: China Must Establish South China Sea ADIZ | The Diplomat.

A Chinese military officer has said that establishing a South China Sea ADIZ is necessary to China’s national interest.

zachary-keck_q
February 22, 2014

A senior researcher and officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army said that establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is essential to China’s national interest.

“The establishment of another ADIZ over the South China Sea is necessary for China’s long-term national interest,” Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the PLA Navy’s Military Academy and frequent media commentator, said on Friday, according to a report in Reuters.

Li’s comment seemed to be slightly inconsistent with a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry back in February, which dismissed Japanese media reports that said China was preparing to establish a South China Sea ADIZ. That statement, however, seemed to leave open the possibility that China might do so in the future.

When initially announcing its East China Sea ADIZ, Chinese officials readily admitted that they intended to establish other ADIZ over other areas in the future.

Li’s remark came in the context of a discussion about remarks made by U.S. Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence and information operations at the US Pacific Fleet. As The Diplomat previously reported, at a recent U.S. Naval Institute conference Capt. Fanell said that the PLA had held a drill to practice defeating Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces in the East China Sea as a prelude to seizing the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

In that same speech (see video below) Fanell also predicted that China would establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea by 2015 at the latest. Li characterized this remark as America’s attempt to deter China from establishing a South China Sea ADIZ.

On Thursday, however, the Pentagon distanced itself from Fanell’s remarks, with Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby saying that “those were his views to express.” Kirby continued: “What I can tell you about what Secretary Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world.  We continue to want to improve our bilateral military relations with China.” Indeed, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno is currently in China meeting his PLA counterpart.

Li said that the Pentagon’s decision to distance itself from Fanell’s comments was a tactical move on the part of the U.S. “It’s a typical U.S. diplomatic strategy,” Li said, according to Reuters. “Washington is very concerned about the tension developing in the South China Sea, which will relate to its strategic interests.”

It’s worth noting that Rear Admiral Kirby distancing the Pentagon from Fanell’s remarks was likely referring in particular to the latter’s comments about China’s military forces training to defeat Japan’s MSDF in the East China Sea.

Fanell’s remark about China’s interest in establishing a South China Sea ADIZ was much less controversial and in fact broadly consistent with the comments made by numerous senior officials in recent months. As far back as last December, Secretary of State John Kerry stated: “Today, I raised our deep concerns about China’s announcement of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone…. The zone should not be implemented, and China should refrain from taking similar unilateral actions elsewhere in the region, and particularly over the South China Sea.”

Here’s a video of the panel in which Capt. Fanell made his blunt assessment. Fanell begins speaking around the 19:00 minute mark, right after The Diplomat’s own Naval Diplomat gives his remarks, which we republished here.

China Training For “Short, Sharp War” With Japan, US Navy Warns | Zero Hedge

China Training For “Short, Sharp War” With Japan, US Navy Warns | Zero Hedge.

In the last year, China has increased the military activity and actions in the South China Sea around the so-called Nine Dash Line — China’s expansive claim into the region which is in conflict with several other international claims.

China’s Nine-Dash Line

As USNI reportsCapt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET, notes that while China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has expanded its training to include a similar attack on Japanese holdings in the East China Sea. He concludes, “the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands].”

Via USNI,

As part of China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise — a massive exercise between the all branches of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — the military trained for taking the Senkaku Islands, said Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET.

View China’s Training Plan in a larger map

“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013,” Fannell said at the West 2014 conference on Feb. 13 in San Diego, Calif.

[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say.”

“As a senior U.S. government official recently stated, there is growing concern that China’s pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects an incremental effort by China to assert control of the area contained in the so-called 9-dash line despite the objections of its neighbors, and despite the lack of any explanation or apparent basis under international law.” Fannell said.

He then detailed a series of what he called aggressive actions taken by China against its neighbors over the past year. Some of those actions, including combat drills in the south Philippine Sea were described as China’s “protection of maritime rights.”

“By the way, protection of maritime rights is a Chinese euphemism for coerce seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors,” Fannell said.

Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated with the Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassing China’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make) port calls throughout the region promising friendship and cooperation.”

Fannell’s assessment of the Chinese lies seemingly in contrast to American efforts to forge close military-to-military ties with the country.

Asia Times Online :: China loses control of its foreign policy

Asia Times Online :: China loses control of its foreign policy.

China loses control of its foreign policy
By Terry McCulleyTo some people, President Xi Jinping’s efforts to consolidate his control over China’s military and government are a welcome development, especially given China’s haphazard approach to crisis management. Xi’s actions might even be interpreted as a sign that China is transitioning towardshu a more “advanced” political system in which the military and foreign policy are controlled by a strong civilian chief executive.In reality, Xi’s attempt to tighten his control over China’s vast and unwieldy bureaucracy reinforces global fears that China is starting to lose control of its foreign policy. This disturbing truth goes a long way towards explaining why the international community was so alarmed by China’s announcement of a new “Air Defense Identification Zone” (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, followed shortly

thereafter by a “no-fishing zone” in the South China Sea.

Even if these new zones were carefully planned years in advance, they also represent part of a larger pattern of aggression – propelled by China’s hostile and uncompromising form of nationalism – that is beyond the ability of China’s leaders to control.

That is what really underlies the collective anxiety of the United States, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries every time China makes aggressive moves overseas. Ironically, China’s new zones of control only serve to underscore deep concerns among a global community that is starting to realize that China is incapable of controlling the nationalist sentiment which has hijacked China’s foreign policy.

Interestingly enough, some commentators have suggested that China doesn’t even have a foreign policy – or at least nothing that’s remotely coherent. This lack of long-term vision makes Chinese foreign policy even more susceptible to being steered in a dangerous direction by those who stand to benefit from aggressive nationalist posturing.

For instance, in a New York Times op-ed, China scholar David Shambaugh asks, “Does China Have a Foreign Policy?” and then proceeds to answer the question in the negative. This absence of strategic planning makes China’s foreign policy vulnerable to the whims of zealous nationalists and hawkish PLA officers seeking to instigate conflict in order to acquire more power and resources.

Indeed, China security analyst Andrew Scobell suggests that China’s military has engaged in “roguish” behavior motivated by a desire to acquire a greater slice of the government’s budget. According to Scobell, examples of such “roguish” behavior include missile tests near Taiwan in 1995-96; the collision between Chinese and US military aircrafts in 2001; an incident involving a Chinese submarine and a US aircraft carrier in 2006; and the unannounced anti-satellite missile test in 2007. Scobell says that such “roguish” actions could indicate that “PLA leaders are going their own way to pursue power and resources with little regard for civilian leaders or consideration for the larger implications of their activities.”

Another scholar, Professor Huang Jing of the National University of Singapore, has likened China’s young military officers to the hawkish young Japanese officers of the 1930’s who were partly responsible for Japan’s invasion of China. In an article published by The Telegraph, Professor Huang is quoted as saying that young PLA officers are leading China on a collision course with America by “taking control of strategy and … thinking [about] what they can do, not what they should do … This is very dangerous.”

In other words, after devoting so much time and resources towards modernization today’s PLA has a bunch of new toys to play with. The PLA also has greater capacity to project power overseas now, so it’s only natural that some military officers are itching for an opportunity to test out their new capabilities and equipment. In fact, Scobell indicates that PLA officers are eager for exposure to real-world combat because China hasn’t had a major war since 1979, when China attacked Vietnam in a brief but bloody conflict.

This desire to accumulate combat experience and test out new equipment – coupled with the PLA’s bureaucratic interest in obtaining more power and resources by instigating or exaggerating foreign conflicts – means that Xi needs to keep a close eye on the PLA in order to prevent a dangerous miscalculation. Sure enough, last month’s close encounter between Chinese and US naval vessels in the South China Sea provided a frightening glimpse of how adventurous PLA maneuvering can lead to real confrontation.

Of course, it’s quite possible that last month’s close encounter wasn’t adventurism but rather a carefully planned maneuver. China is eager to determine how the US military responds to various scenarios, and China is particularly interested in gauging America’s response to provocations at sea because this helps China plan for a possible clash with the US military over Taiwan.

In such a scenario, the United States would have the initial advantage due to its superior naval power, so China’s current strategy is to quickly knock-out American naval vessels with conventional weapons – especially its new “aircraft carrier killer” DF-21D missiles.

Yet even if the recent close encounter in the South China Sea was part of a carefully planned strategy, Professor Huang still doubts that Beijing’s civilian leaders can rein in young PLA officers, saying that nowadays Beijing “can no longer control much of anything”. This is exactly what concerns the international community, as China’s complex web of competing bureaucratic interests – infused with aggressive nationalism – has spawned a Chinese foreign policy that is hawkish, unpredictable, and uncontrollable.

Xi Jinping is well aware of this problem and has attempted to bring a semblance of discipline to China’s foreign policy by creating a “State Security Committee” headed by Xi himself. This “State Security Committee” is modeled on the US National Security Council, except that China’s version is responsible for coordinating both domestic and foreign policy. Not surprisingly, China scholars such as John Lee have noted that the PLA was initially opposed to the creation of a “State Security Committee”, as it stands to reduce the PLA’s influence over China’s national security policy.

Nevertheless, merely setting up a new committee won’t drastically alter the fervent nationalism and adventurous spirit within the PLA and greater Chinese society. The alarming truth is that regardless of how much President Xi consolidates his power, there is only so much he can do to reduce the enormous influence that individual Chinese citizens and soldiers – emboldened by China’s aggressive form of nationalism – have on China’s foreign policy.

Protecting Chinese citizens overseas
One perverse consequence of China’s extremely nationalistic culture is that Chinese citizens are increasingly willing to push the limits overseas, all the while feeling safe knowing that nationalism will compel Chinese leaders to protect them if something goes wrong – or indeed, if they wind up breaking foreign laws or encroaching on foreign territory.

This holds true regardless of whether the Chinese citizens involved are fishermen veering into foreign waters; traders encroaching on foreign markets; or adventurous military officers. Instead of admonishing citizens who break foreign laws, Beijing typically rushes to their support and orders Chinese media outlets to portray Beijing’s leaders as doing everything in their power to protect Chinese citizens abroad.

The Communist Party has little choice but to passionately defend its citizens overseas – even if they are breaking the law – as otherwise the Party’s monopoly on power will be gravely threatened by nationalist forces.

For example, international newspapers last year reported that upwards of 50,000 Chinese citizens were engaged in illegal gold-mining in Ghana, causing massive environmental destruction in the process. In response, Ghana launched a crackdown on illegal gold-mining which specifically targeted Chinese citizens (even though a small number of other foreigners were also involved).

According to Chinese media reports, Beijing immediately lodged a strong diplomatic protest and rushed to protect its citizens by dispatching a team of central government officials to conduct an investigation in Ghana. Xinhua also reported that Shanglin County – the place in China where many of the goldminers came from – sent its own team of officials to help Chinese citizens return home from Ghana, even offering to pay their airfare.

As the story unfolded, Beijing took pains to show that bold action was being taken – even going so far as imposing retaliatory measures against Ghana. According to the Guardian, China tightened its visa policies for Ghanaian citizens and even delayed the disbursement of China’s development assistance to the country. Faced with such harsh retaliatory measures, Ghana eventually acquiesced by releasing all 169 Chinese citizens detained for illegal gold-mining.

Even though China’s outlandish retaliation risked damaging its long-term relations with Ghana, Beijing was obliged to take swift action – particularly after coming under pressure from cyber-nationalists who had seen images of Chinese citizens injured during the crackdown.

These days, Internet forums are the primary vehicle for expressing nationalist rage in China, and Chinese leaders simply can’t build a great firewall high enough to stop the spread of graphic images and pent-up anger online. Much of this pent-up rage is actually rooted in China’s own internal problems, but Chinese citizens can only safely direct their anger toward outsiders because any serious criticism of the Communist Party is quickly snuffed out.

In this case, Beijing responded to cyber-outrage by making a public spectacle of its iron-clad will to tackle the problem in Ghana. For instance, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Ghana was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying that China’s government attaches “great importance to Chinese citizens mining gold in Ghana” and that “a joint investigation team comprising officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce, and public security [was sent] to the West African country to protect their safety and lawful rights”.

The South China Morning Post further reported that Beijing not only asked Ghana to prevent robbery against Chinese citizens, but also asked Ghana to stop detaining Chinese citizens. In other words, nationalist pressure forced Beijing to effectively demand that Ghana stop enforcing its own laws against illegal mining. Ghana enacted these laws to prevent environmental destruction and ensure that all mining activities were subject to taxation, but apparently nationalist pressure compelled Beijing to insist that Chinese citizens shouldn’t be subject to Ghana’s duly-enacted laws.

Despite the crackdown, Ghana’s illegal gold-mining problem won’t improve any time soon because certain local actors benefit from Chinese extraction activities. Ghana’s government receives billions of dollars from China to build infrastructure projects, and it’s well-known that local officials worldwide pocket bribes from their dealings with China. In addition, the international press reported that some Ghanaian entrepreneurs have established joint ventures with Chinese citizens engaged in illegal gold-mining activities.

The China-funded infrastructure projects in Ghana and other countries are usually designed to facilitate resource extraction; gain diplomatic influence; and alleviate China’s unemployment problem, as thousands of Chinese laborers are sent to work on these projects overseas. In many countries, the displacement of local labor in favor of imported Chinese workers provokes intense anger among locals who are denied job opportunities and the chance to learn new technological skills.

In addition, local resentment towards Chinese immigrants is magnified by the perception that Chinese traders have the unfair advantage of being connected to a colossal China-dominated global supply network. These types of grievances have caused rising tension between locals and Chinese immigrants, even leading to violence against Chinese communities in such far-flung places as Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and several African countries.

Many local communities are also furious that Chinese companies are causing environmental damage as well as human rights violations. In both Ghana and Myanmar, for example, locals have expressed outrage that Chinese companies are importing Chinese-made equipment and using it to plunder local resources, destroying the environment and abusing human rights in the process.

The fact that Ghana’s crackdown targeted Chinese immigrants – as opposed to illegal miners from other countries – underscores the intensity of local anger towards the destructive methods of Chinese companies in Ghana.

Local animosity towards Chinese immigrants in Ghana and other African countries has certainly damaged China’s foreign policy, but China’s biggest diplomatic setback in recent years occurred right in its own backyard – Myanmar, where the conduct of individual Chinese traders and large Chinese companies has aroused such revulsion towards China that it’s unclear if Beijing can ever recover its once-dominant influence in the country.

Myanmar’s change of heart
Myanmar’s decision to “open up” in 2011 wasn’t simply a matter of offsetting Beijing’s political influence in the country. It was also fueled by a backlash against the growing dominance of Chinese traders over Myanmar’s economy. Many of these Chinese traders entered Myanmar illegally through semi-autonomous regions along Myanmar’s border with China – particularly Wa territory, which serves as a proxy for Chinese power projection in Myanmar and a vehicle for illegal Chinese immigration into the country.

Myanmar’s so-called “Kokang” region was another semi-autonomous area that served as a gateway for illegal Chinese immigration into Myanmar before it was attacked by the Burmese military in 2009, sending a flood of ethnic Chinese refugees across the border into China.

The “Kokang” ethnic group is actually a mixed bag of ethnic Chinese who settled in Burma many years ago along with more recent illegal Chinese immigrants, many of whom obtained false identity documents by paying off local officials. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Burmese military decided to attack the Kokang in 2009 was to stem the tide of illegal Chinese immigrants and their dominance over Myanmar’s economy.

The predominance of Chinese traders in Myanmar – both legal and illegal – and the perception that Chinese immigrants are cheating the system by skirting local laws has precipitated widespread animosity towards China (and Chinese immigrants) in Myanmar.

This intense hostility is still prevalent in Myanmar today, as evidenced by last month’s arrest of several Chinese individuals who were illegally conducting business in Myanmar while there on tourist visas.

Although it’s not uncommon for people to conduct business while on tourist visas, the nature of this case demonstrates the extreme

sensitivity surrounding Chinese business activities in Myanmar. The group was arrested while exploring for natural resources in Kachin state, and their arrest shows the eagerness of Myanmar’s government to assuage public anger towards China for exploiting Myanmar’s resources and destroying the environment.

It was precisely these grievances which sparked the Kachin conflict in 2011, as Kachin people had become outraged by the destruction of their ancestral homeland by Chinese companies that were extracting resources in collaboration with Burma’s military. Certain Kachin leaders were also profiting from these extraction activities, and during the 2000s older Kachin leaders were actually pushed aside by younger Kachins who wanted to take a harder line towards the Burmese military.

Some younger Kachins were even hoping that armed conflict would break out, thereby enabling Kachins to win back ancestral homelands that Burma’s military had steadily encroached upon and plundered over time. Rising anger among Kachin people towards the Burmese military eventually came to a head over the Myitsone dam, which became a rallying cry for citizens across the nation who were infuriated that Burma’s military was collaborating with Chinese companies to plunder Myanmar’s resources and destroy its natural beauty.

By the late 2000s, a consensus had crystallized between Burma’s military and average Burmese citizens that something had to be done to prevent China from taking over Myanmar’s economy. This is what triggered the attack against the Kokang in 2009 and the military’s decision to “reform” in 2011. Together, these landmark events were designed to curb the influence of Chinese officials, Chinese state-owned enterprises, and individual Chinese traders in Myanmar – particularly in northern Myanmar, where Chinese business interests had become so prevalent that Mandalay had earned the nickname “The 2nd Beijing”.

Northern Myanmar’s disproportionately large Chinese population was recently confirmed by the Irrawaddy, which cited a population survey conducted by Australia National University showing that 20% of Mandalay and a whopping 50% of Lashio is now Chinese. The Burmese government is attempting to address this issue by checking the authenticity of identification documents held by Mandalay residents – particularly individuals who can’t speak Burmese, which according to the Irrawaddy suggests the authorities will be targeting Mandalay’s large population of illegal immigrants from China’s Yunnan Province.

As a result of this tension, Myanmar’s troubled relationship with China now alternates between outright hostility and neighborly friendliness. Even Aung San Suu Kyi has said that it’s crucial for Myanmar to maintain good relations with its neighbors – especially China, which Myanmar still depends on for technical expertise, military equipment, and infusions of cash from projects such as the oil-gas pipelines. As such, the Burmese government still bends over backwards to appease China, and recently even arrested an activist for burning a Chinese flag during a protest against the Letpadaung copper mine.

Nevertheless, Myanmar’s fateful decision to offset Chinese influence in Myanmar by “opening up” in 2011 was a major blow to Beijing’s political and economic interests. Chinese investment in Myanmar has fallen dramatically ever since, and Myanmar stands out as a prime example of how Beijing’s inability to control the behavior of Chinese citizens limits China’s ability to control its own foreign policy.

Nationalism on the high seas
Individual Chinese citizens have also entangled China in numerous conflicts with its neighbors on the high seas, including the incident which led to China’s seizure of Scarborough Shoal, a coral reef in the South China Sea that was previously controlled by the Philippines. China seized the reef in 2012 on the pretext of protecting Chinese fishermen who were accosted at Scarborough Shoal by the Philippines.

Relations between China and the Philippines have been on the rocks (or perhaps on the reef) ever since, and once again China has resorted to imposing retaliatory measures such as subjecting Filipino banana imports to lengthy customs inspections. Unfortunately, it’s become common practice for China – under nationalist pressure – to blackball other countries using various kinds of retaliatory measures. Such arrogant and audacious tactics have provoked outrage in many countries, who accuse China of using access to its huge market as a weapon while insisting that other countries open their doors to a flood of Chinese imports.

The most disturbing example of China’s defiant approach to international affairs occurred in 2010, when China decided to halt exports of rare earth metals to Japan after a Chinese fisherman was arrested by Japan near the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Shipments of rare earth metals to other countries were also impacted by China’s export restrictions, and it was this incident more than anything which convinced global leaders that it was time to start cooperating in order to convince China that it can’t unilaterally thumb its nose at well-established global norms.

Even China’s erstwhile ally Russia has begun to distance itself from China by cooperating with some of China’s neighbors in order to discourage reckless behavior by China. In particular, Russia has explored various forms of cooperation with China’s historic arch-rivals Vietnam and Japan, both of whom have bitter outstanding territorial disputes with China.

Russia’s budding ties with Japan are especially significant given their long history of icy relations dating back to Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05); Russia’s occupation of the Southern Kurils (or what Japan refers to as its “Northern Territories”) in the closing days of World War II; and their ongoing rivalry during the Cold War.

Although the Southern Kurils dispute lingers on, the historic rapprochement between Russia and Japan certainly puts China on notice that the global community is in a stronger position to collectively ward off any future delinquent behavior by China.

As for the Chinese fishermen who were accosted by Japan and the Philippines, it’s hard to say whether they just made an honest mistake or were part of Beijing’s grandiose plan to assert authority over contested territory. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter because either way Chinese leaders would have been compelled to quickly dispatch their cavalry to protect the fishermen – lest China’s leaders be accused of failing to defend Chinese citizens or capitulating to “pawns” of the United States. As both these incidents demonstrate, the impact of individual citizens on China’s foreign policy is so great that even fishermen can inadvertently embroil China in foreign military conflicts.

The ‘Chinese Dream’: Escape 
To prevent further incidents abroad, the Chinese government can’t very well ask its compatriots to stop doing business overseas. On the contrary, Beijing has been actively encouraging outbound investment to offset China’s flagging economic growth and reduce unemployment – both of which pose a threat to the Communist Party. China’s “go out” campaign actually began in the 1990’s under Jiang Zemin, but more recently it’s received a huge boost under Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping in the form of generous government support – particularly to state-owned enterprises.

Many people were actually hoping that Xi Jinping would reduce government support to state-owned enterprises, but apparently this vested interest group is just too powerful – even for China’s strong and charismatic new president. However, Xi Jinping has managed to implement some financial reforms, and his ability to enact reforms will only increase as Xi continues to strengthen his grip on power.

Moreover, Communist Party leaders have bolstered Xi’s ability to push reform proposals though China’s most powerful body – the Central Politburo Standing Committee – by stacking the Central Committee with allies from Xi’s so-called “elitist” faction. The hope of Party leaders who helped engineer Xi Jinping’s rise to power is that Xi will be well-positioned to spearhead critical reforms needed to prevent the collapse of the Party (not to mention China itself).

This represents a marked contrast to former President Hu Jintao’s tenure, which many have criticized as a “lost decade” in which crucial reforms were forestalled due to Hu’s relative weakness and a divided Central Committee that was split between the “elitist” and “populist” factions.

Despite Xi Jinping’s rising status it’s doubtful whether he can really address China’s caustic mix of rising inequality, pervasive corruption, and the myriad health and environmental problems which have fueled protests across the country. Indeed, social unrest has become so widespread that China now devotes an enormous chunk of its budget towards internal security, and domestic security will certainly figure prominently on the agenda of Xi’s newly-created “State Security Committee”.

Official statements describing the State Security Committee – Xi’s pet project which former Chinese Presidents pursued but weren’t powerful enough to create – have declared that it will strengthen China’s response to “anyone who would disrupt or sabotage China’s national security”.

In other words, Xi’s leadership of the State Security Committee is designed to impress upon everyone that Xi Jinping is the ultimate defender of China’s interests, security, and sovereignty.

From his powerful and lofty perch, Xi has attempted to steer Chinese nationalism in a “healthy” direction through his “China dream” slogan and by resurrecting several Mao-era campaigns. These carefully-planned PR stunts along with Xi’s powerful status are all designed to show Chinese citizens that Xi is “redder than red” – the supreme patriarch of Chinese socialism and the ultimate defender of China’s interests. In this respect, Xi is styling himself as some kind of latter-day Chairman Mao – only this time China’s supreme leader has a slightly more profound understanding of public finance.

However, Xi’s attempt to co-opt nationalist fervor by proclaiming he’s the flag-bearer of Chinese patriotism and primary defender of Chinese sovereignty will only increase adventurism by Chinese citizens. After all, Xi’s new “China dream” slogan not only strives to build a large middle class, but also envisions a “strong China” and a “strong military.”

With such explicit backing from China’s top leader, it’s certain that adventurous PLA officers, fishermen, and traders will take Xi’s slogan as a green-light to continue their aggressive actions overseas. History has proven that once Chinese nationalist forces are unleashed they’re impossible to control, and Xi’s sloganeering will only fan the flames of Chinese adventurism abroad.

Xi’s agenda also includes a supposedly wide-ranging crackdown on corruption within the Party, but everyone knows this campaign just isn’t capable of solving China’s deep-rooted culture of corruption. Rather, Xi’s anti-corruption drive is merely another publicity stunt aimed at placating widespread antipathy towards the Party, and many analysts have noted that it’s also being used to attack Xi’s political enemies.

Besides, even if Xi sincerely wanted to tackle corruption, China’s vested interests are so powerful and have so much at stake that President Xi – despite his enhanced power – simply doesn’t have the political strength to make anything more than cosmetic changes to a system that is rotten to the core.

As China’s socio-political system decays, Chinese citizens are becoming more and more desperate to find a way out. And the impetus to escape China’s miserably over-crowded and polluted cities has become even greater in recent years, with toxic haze paralyzing China’s major cities on a regular basis. This has spurred countless numbers of Chinese to seek greener pastures and bluer skies overseas, with Chinese immigrants fanning out to all corners of the globe. Indeed, for many Chinese citizens their “China dream” is to get the heck out of China as soon as possible. And once they leave there isn’t much Beijing can do to control their behavior.

Thus, even if Xi is somehow able to reduce adventurism in the PLA there’s little he can do to regulate the conduct of fishermen, traders, and other Chinese immigrants overseas – many of whom are so desperate to escape China and earn a living they’re willing to do anything, including breaking foreign laws. After all, finding loopholes is one of China’s great national pastimes, so it’s not surprising that some Chinese citizens are tempted to flout social and legal norms overseas.

As the Ghana and Myanmar cases demonstrate, Chinese citizens will continue push the limits, evade the rules, and test the patience of governments and peoples overseas. Invariably, unlawful behavior by some Chinese immigrants will ignite more backlashes against Chinese communities overseas (even if only a few are actually breaking the law). Beijing will then be compelled to rush out and support all its citizens – including the lawbreakers – by engaging in trade retaliation and other kinds of aggressive tactics. This will then prompt countries across the globe to further strengthen their cooperation to discourage reckless behavior by China.

Xi’s new “China dream” slogan is pretty cute, but if Xi thinks he can tame China’s aggressive nationalism or the behavior of Chinese citizens overseas, he must be dreaming. As time goes by, Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders will continue to lose their grip on China’s foreign policy, and our world will become an ever more dangerous place to live.

Terry McCulley is a freelance writer who focuses on East Asia . You can send Terry comments and questions to his e-mail address, which is his first name followed by 63178@gmail.com 

The Complete Chinese War Preparedness And Military Update | Zero Hedge

The Complete Chinese War Preparedness And Military Update | Zero Hedge.

With China increasingly in the news involving some new diplomatic or geopolitical escalation, a new territorial claim, the launch of a brand new aircraft carrier, or just general chatter of military tensions surrounding the aspirational reserve currency superpower, it is time for yet another update of the complete “military and security developments  involving the people’s republic of China”, courtesy of the annual report to Congress discussing precisely this issue.

The only Org Chart that matters:

 

China Sovereignty Claims:

 

Chinese Ground Forces:

 

Chinese ground force distribution map:

 

Chinese Navy:

 

Chinese Airforce:

 

Chinese airforce distribution map:

 

China Taiwan Strait and SRBM Coverage:

 

China Conventional Strike Capabilities:

 

Chinese Missile balance:

 

China Precision Strike capabilities:

 

Chinese ICBM reach capabilities:

 

The full report link – pdf.

Philippine Navy Adds to Regional Arms Build-Up | The Diplomat

Philippine Navy Adds to Regional Arms Build-Up | The Diplomat.

The Philippine navy hopes to add two more warships to its fleet as Southeast Asian countries continue to expand their militaries in response to the Chinese government’s increasingly assertive territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea.

Armed forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said the new acquisitions would come under the fresh U.S. military assistance plan announced last month by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited the Philippines.

China began widening its territorial claims about five years ago to include nearly all of the seas dividing Southeast Asian countries and their northern neighbor. The claims defy international standards and maritime law, and Beijing refuses to have the dispute heard before an international court.

Its attitude has angered Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, but the four countries have struggled to forge a united front within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when dealing with Beijing over the issue.

Adding to recent tensions was Liu Yazhou, political commissar at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University, who said in a magazine interview that the Chinese military could match the U.S. by “seizing opportunities.”

“An army that fails to achieve victory is nothing,” Liu was quoted as saying by a defense magazine “Those borders where our army has won victories are more peaceful and stable, but those where we were too timid have more disputes.”

That type of language again irritated its neighbors.

The Vietnamese have for the first time publicly marked a naval battle fought against China over disputed islands 40 years ago. Commemorations came a month after the Chinese government published new rules requiring foreign fishing vessels to seek Beijing’s permission to operate in much of the South China Sea.

Taiwan has rejected those regulations, described by some as potentially state piracy, while others have rejected or ignored them.

Vietnam has also moved to bolster its own defenses, taking delivery of its first Russian-made Kilo class submarine, which is part of substantial military upgrade by Hanoi – primarily through a multi-billion-dollar deal with Moscow. Malaysia has also added two French-made Scorpene submarines, boosting its own maritime capabilities.

Indonesia and Singapore are also expanding their fleets in what The New York Times described as “The Submarine Race in Asia.” The paper noted that much of this arms competition was being propelled by growing wealth in Southeast Asia but added these countries and China should realize that increasing their armaments can only undermine their security as well as the stability that nurtures their economies.

Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.

China Building Second Aircraft Carrier, Two More In The Pipeline | Zero Hedge

China Building Second Aircraft Carrier, Two More In The Pipeline | Zero Hedge.

For months, rumors have been floating that China is building a second aircrafit carrier. It is not a fact. Reuters cites Chinese and Hong Kong media reports that China is building its second aircraft carrier, which is expected to take six years. While it is constructing this one, China plans to build at least two more, as it aims to have four aircraft carriers in the near future.

As a reminder, the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning – a Soviet-era ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 and re-fitted in a Chinese shipyard – has long been a symbol of China’s naval build-up, and recently saw its maiden voyage in the South China Sea when in a clear demonstration of naval force, it crossed through the Taiwan straits. The Liaoning successfully executed more than 100 tests, including those of its combat systems, during drills in the disputed South China Sea last month. The exercises off the coast of Hainan Island marked not only the first time China had sent a carrier into the South China Sea but the first time it had maneuvered with the kind of strike group of escort ships U.S. carriers deploy, according to regional military officers and analysts.

However, since the Lioning was a retrofit and not China’s own creation, the country’s navy has been scrambling to get beyond the ridicule it can only “reverse engineer” its crowning ship. Hence the push for a second one.

From Reuters:

After two decades of double-digit increases in the military budget, China’s admirals plan to develop a full blue-water navy capable of defending growing economic interests as well as disputed territory in the South and East China Seas.

 

Successfully operating the 60,000-tonne Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of locally built carriers by 2020.

 

In comments carried on Chinese news websites, Wang Min, the Communist Party boss of the northeastern province of Liaoning, where the first carrier is based, said the second carrier was being built in the port city of Dalian.

 

Its construction would take about six years, and in future China would have a fleet of at least four carriers, Wang told members of the province’s legislature on Saturday, the reports added.

 

Dalian is the port where the existing carrier was re-fitted for use by the Chinese navy.

Of course, the parallels to the cold war build up of nuclear weapons between the US and the USSR are quite obvious making one wonder if the same strategy is in play once more, especially when one considers that the US itself is also building three Ford-class supercarriers, the CVN-78, 79 and 80.

Finally, as we showed before, here are leaked photos of the second aircraft carrier in construction from China Defense.

 

Finally for those curious about more than just China’s nascent aircraft carrier fleet, here are some additional maps from the most recent Congressional report on Chinese military developments:

Philippines seeks US ships to counter China – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Philippines seeks US ships to counter China – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

The Philippine armed forces says it needs at least six more frigates to effectively patrol its waters [AP]
The Philippines has said it wants to acquire two more navy ships from the US to boost its maritime protection amid military threats from China, according to the country’s military chief.

“Within the last year, we realised that there is a real threat out there in terms of securing, defending our territory,” armed forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista told the Philippines’ ANC television on Wednesday.

There are Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea as we speak.

General Emmanuel Bautista,armed forces chief of staff

The new acquisitions fall under the $40m in military assistance pledged by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the country in December 2013.

But Bautista said the country needs about six more frigates to effectively guard its coastline.

“In fact, we are bidding now for two frigates, hopefully we will be able to acquire them in (a) couple of years,” he said.

The Philippines is a long-time US military ally and has already received two refurbished ships in the past two years.

These boats now patrol the South China Sea where, in 2012, the flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the first US acquisition, confronted Chinese ships on Scarborough Shoal, a small outcrop just off the coast of the country’s main island of Luzon.

The Chinese eventually gained control of the outcrop after Manila backed down. And the Filipino government sought UN arbitration to settle the dispute, a move which China rejected.

Ongoing dispute

The Philippines has been locked in an increasingly tense standoff with China involving disputed reefs and islands in an area Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

Bautista said the Gregorio del Pilar, as well as another frigate that arrived last year, have been deployed to protect the country’s waters.

“There are Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea as we speak,” he said, but declined to say where they were in the disputed waters.

China has claimed almost all of the South China Sea, including waters near the cost of its neighbours.

And it recently declared an “air defence identification zone” over the East China Sea, where it is engaged in a dispute with Japan.

Kerry has warned China against imposing a similar air defence identification zone over the South China Sea.

Last week China also announced a new fisheries law requiring foreign vessels to obtain permits for activities in most of the South China Sea, triggering outrage in Manila.

China Plans To Seize South China Sea Island From Philippines, Says “Battle Will Be Restricted” | Zero Hedge

China Plans To Seize South China Sea Island From Philippines, Says “Battle Will Be Restricted” | Zero Hedge.

Following Japan’s proclamations that it will take over another 280 ‘disputed ownership’ islands, it appears the increasingly dis-approved of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s path of militarism and provocation is working. As China Daily Mail reports,citing experts, China intends to take back Zhongye Island – ‘illegally’ occupied by the Philippines, according to the Chinese. The Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea. Philippines military is building up on the island and the Chinese see as ‘intolerable’ the “arrogance” relying on US support. It seems the Obama administration may have to ‘not take sides’ in another fight soon.

 

Background on the build-up…

Eugenio Bito-onon Jr, mayor of the Kalayaan island group, part of the contested Spratly islands administered by the Philippines, recently confirmed that the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has deployed new air force troops in rotation to the disputed island of Thitu, according to Jaime Laude in a report for the Manila-based Philippine Star on Jan. 5.

 

 

Known as Pag-asa in the Philippines and Zhongye island by both China and Taiwan, Thitu is the second largest in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea and the largest of all Philippine-occupied Spratly islands.

 

Laude said that the air force troops were deployed to Thitu island by naval aircraft, which will give the residents of the island a chance to visit Kalayaan aboard the returning plane. He added that China’s maritime expansion into the South China Sea continues to put pressure on the Philippines, and the Philippine Navy have also been stationed in the area to defend the islands.

 

 

Six countries – Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — claim in whole or part to the South China Sea and its island chains and shoals.

And the Latest Tensions…

Via China Daily Mail (translated from Chinese media),

Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years.

 

It will be an intolerable insult to China

 

According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea.

 

The battle is aimed at recovery of the island stolen by the Philippines from China.

 

There will be no invasion into Filipino territories.

 

A report in the Philippines Star confirmed the Philippines military buildup on the island.

Source: qianzhan.com “Sudden major move of Chinese troops this year to recover Zhongye Island by force”

 

Of course, claims that “battle will be restricted” are nothing but taunting and should China launch an offsensive here, we suspect the already dry and brittle tinder box in the South (and East) China Sea could rapidly escalate.

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China Confirms Near-Collision Of US, Chinese Warships, Accuses US Of “Deliberate Provocation” | Zero Hedge

China Confirms Near-Collision Of US, Chinese Warships, Accuses US Of “Deliberate Provocation” | Zero Hedge.

Last Friday we reported of a freak near-incident in the South China Sea, when a US warship nearly collided with a Chinese navy vessel, operating in close proximity to China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, although details were scarce. Today, with the usual several day delay, China reported what was already widely know, admitting that “an incident between a Chinese naval vessel and a U.S. warship in the South China Sea, after Washington said a U.S. guided missile cruiser had avoided a collision with a Chinese warship maneuvering nearby.” According to experts this was the most significant U.S.-China maritime incident in the disputed South China Sea since 2009. Which naturally warranted the question: whose actions nearly provoked a potential military escalation between the world’s two superpowers. Not surprisingly, China’s version is that it was all the US’ fault.

Reuters reports:

China’s Defense Ministry said the Chinese naval vessel was conducting “normal patrols” when the two vessels “met”.

“During the encounter, the Chinese naval vessel properly handled it in accordance with strict protocol,” the ministry said on its website (www.mod.gov.cn).

“The two Defense departments were kept informed of the relevant situation through normal working channels and carried out effective communication.”

But China’s official news agency Xinhua, in an English language commentary, accused the U.S. ship of deliberately provocative behavior.

“On December 5, U.S. missile cruiser Cowpens, despite warnings from China’s aircraft carrier task group, broke into the Chinese navy’s drilling waters in the South China Sea, and almost collided with a Chinese warship nearby,” it said.

“Even before the navy training, Chinese maritime authorities have posted a navigation notice on their website, and the U.S. warship, which should have had knowledge of what the Chinese were doing there, intentionally carried on with its surveillance of China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier and triggered the confrontation.”

On the other hand, and just as logically, the US said it was China’s fault as the US ship had to take evasive action:

Washington said last week its ship was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

Then again, one wonders just what a lone US warship was doing in such close proximity to China’s aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage: “The Liaoning aircraft carrier, which has yet to be fully armed and is being used as a training vessel, was flanked by escort ships, including two destroyers and two frigates, during its first deployment into the South China Sea.”

The United States had raised the incident at a “high level” with China, according to a State Department official quoted by the U.S. military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper.

China deployed the Liaoning to the South China Sea just days after announcing its air Defense zone, which covers air space over a group of tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing as well.

Leaving aside the question of what the US’ response would be if a Chinese warship was circling just outside of the San Diego Naval Base, even if in “international waters”, assuming China’s account of the story is correct, and if indeed the US chain of command did tongue-in-cheekly suggest the creation of a modest incident (with or without escalation), then one should pay very careful attention to the development in the South China Sea, which the US apparently has picked as the next hotzone of geopolitical risk flaring.

 

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.

 

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