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A Chinese military officer has said that establishing a South China Sea ADIZ is necessary to China’s national interest.
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.
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 reports, Capt. 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].”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.