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El mar del Sur de China, una esplendida caja de dinamita que podria desatar la III Guerra Mundial

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Noviembre 20th 2014, 21:47

This Map Shows Why The South China Sea Could Lead To The Next World War
JUL. 10, 2014, 11:29 AM 100,341 81

El mar del Sur de China, una esplendida caja de dinamita que podria desatar la III Guerra Mundial South%20china%20sea%20map_05
The South China Sea is a powder keg of territorial claims mixed with oil and gas resources.

Almost every country in the area has a longstanding animus toward at least one of its neighbors. China claims 90% of the Sea, and Beijing is viewed with fear and suspicion throughout the region.

The U.S. and Chinese militaries are both entrenched there — Japan is slowly building its military capabilities in the face of a perceived Chinese threat while Vietnam and the Philippines are emerging as regional players.

The South China sea is where the world’s next major interstate power struggle will play out. Any blowup there will almost necessarily involve China and the U.S., which have the two largest economies on earth.

But the confrontation has already begun, with China claiming everything within its now-infamous "nine-dash line," and nearly all of its neighbors involved in disputes along the line's edges. Between April and June of 2014, Japan scrambled its fighter jets 340 times "in response to feared incursions on its airspace." What's still unclear is just how bad things could plausibly get there.

Here are the South China Sea’s major flash points:

Read more:
¿deberia fusionar esto con lo Vietnam y lo de las Filipinas? tratan sobre el mismo mar

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Mensaje por ogmios03 Noviembre 21st 2014, 00:22

si EEUU empieza a tener broncas internas el mundo se va a caer a pedazos

Comisario General [Policía Federal]
Comisario General [Policía Federal]

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Mensaje por Lanceros de Toluca Noviembre 23rd 2014, 03:41


Lanceros de Toluca
Alto Mando
Alto Mando

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Enero 4th 2015, 15:28


pero desgraciadamente no me dejó

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Enero 5th 2015, 04:12

China's Grand-Strategy Challenge: Creating Its Own Islands in the South China Sea

China’s grand strategy in the South China Sea seems pretty clear—change facts in the water.
Alexander Vuving

December 8, 2014

Satellite images analyzed by defense intelligence magazine IHS Jane’s show that China is reclaiming on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands a piece of land that bears the shape of a 3000-meter airfield and a harbor large enough to receive tankers and major warships. This is not the first, but the latest in a series of land reclamations that China is conducting both in the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

What does China want with this island building? What is the ultimate objective of these projects? The usual lens we use to decipher strategic moves on the international arena is ill suited to answer these questions. It views the game nations play in term of chess, but China is playing weiqi in the South China Sea.

Weiqi, better known in the West by its Japanese name, go, is the oldest Chinese board game that bears much parallel to an influential branch of traditional Chinese strategic thinking. While chess is a game of checkmate, weiqi, as its very name tells us, is a game of encirclement. In weiqi, there are no kings, queens or pawns as there are in chess, only identical stones whose power depends on where they are in the larger arrangement of the pieces. If chess is a contest of armies, weiqi is a struggle between configurations. Whereas the competent chess player aims at the destruction of the enemy’s physical power, a proficient weiqi player strives for the control of strategic positions, from which position-based power emanates.

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If the South China Sea is seen as a chessboard, China’s moves in it appear largely trivial. Advanced forward are mostly pawns, while there is little movement of the more powerful figures. Perhaps the most formidable piece on the board is an underground base for nuclear missile submarines at Yulin on the southern coast of Hainan Island. However, this base is not located in the disputed areas. The main forces involved in the South China Sea dispute are rarely the military, but predominantly fishing boats and lightly armed government vessels. And the central objects of the contest are tiny, barren, often-submerged rocks.

Apparently looking at this game from a chess-like perspective, a very senior U.S. diplomat said, “great powers don’t go to war over rocks,” and a leading scholar of Chinese naval affairs concluded, “these tensions between a rising power and its neighbors are natural and constitute no major danger to the global balance of power, nor even to the normal functioning of the international system.”

(Recommended: Time For Japan to Get Its Own Nuclear Weapons?)

But in the eyes of the weiqi player, what China has done in the South China Sea is a classic example of how to play the game masterfully. The ultimate goal is to gain control of the region. The campaign to achieve this goal relies on creeping expansion, rather than major battles. This creeping expansion is a protracted undertaking that is played out in decades. In accordance with this strategy, salami slicing and small-stick diplomacy are the preferred tactics. The underlying logic is to gradually shift the propensity of things in favor of Chinese dominance by unobtrusively maneuvering the strategic configuration of the region.

This strategy requires a number of imperatives, each of which is built on top of another. The first imperative is to avoid open armed strikes as much as possible; clashes can be initiated, but only to exploit an existing favorable situation. The second imperative is to control the most strategic positions in the sea; if not already in possession, these positions must be seized stealthily if possible and in a limited conflict if necessary. The third imperative is to develop these positions into strong points of control, robust hubs of logistics and effective bases of power projection.

(Recommended: 5 Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear)

The history of the PRC’s involvement in the South China Sea dispute has neatly followed these imperatives.

While China was ready to engage in military confrontation, it usually avoided employing large armed battles to enlarge its sphere of control. Of the numerous attempts by Beijing to snatch new possessions during these six decades, only two involved armed conflicts. The first of the two took place in January 1974 against South Vietnam and concluded with China seizing the western half of the Paracel Islands, the Crescent Group, from the former. The second was a far smaller—but no less bloody—skirmish against unified Vietnam at Johnson South Reef in March 1988.

(Recommended: How to Win a War With China) [

What’s remarkable about these two confrontations is that they both were fought at a time when a power vacuum was swelling in the region, with the United States withdrawing at the time of the first, and the Soviet Union pulling out at that of the second. In both events, China also enjoyed the acquiescence of the United States, the most powerful actor in the larger Asia-Pacific region. As a result, the military clashes caused little diplomatic repercussions.

The second imperative is well reflected in Beijing’s choice of places to occupy in the disputed areas. When China competed with Vietnam for a foothold in the Spratly Islands during 1988, it traded quantity for quality. It took six reefs as opposed to eleven by Hanoi. But five of the six are among the most strategic features in the archipelago.

China’s first choice in the Spratly Islands was Fiery Cross Reef, one of the best in the archipelago in terms of a combination of location and the potential for land reclamation. The atoll occupies an ideal spot at the western gateway into the Spratly Islands and is one of the few Spratly islands that are most exposed to the main transoceanic shipping routes passing through the South China Sea. Its location not too far from, but not too close to, the other island groups reduces its vulnerability and enlarges its sphere of influence. Adding to these advantages, Fiery Cross Reef occupies an area of 110 square kilometers, one of the largest in the Spratly Islands.

Four of the remaining five—Subi Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef and Cuarteron Reef—lie at the edge of four different island groups, from where they can control a large maritime area and the key waterways into the Spratly Islands. The two land features that China later added to its possessions also boast immense strategic values. Mischief Reef, which China surreptitiously took from the Philippines in late 1994 or January 1995, lies at the center of the eastern wing of the Spratly Islands and close to the water highways that run along the eastern South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal, which China captured in 2012 with the help of small-stick and double-dealing diplomacy, presides over the northeastern quadrant of the South China Sea and is an ideal outpost to watch the major shipping routes through the region.

With its control of the Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal and several strategically located lands in the Spratly archipelago, China is far more advantaged than any other countries to command what Robert Kaplan has characterized as “the throat of global sea routes.” For example, Woody Islands (the largest feature in the Paracels), Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal form a four-point constellation from which, with a radius of only 250 nautical miles, the entire main body of the South China Sea can be kept under intense watch.

This means that all it takes for China to become the lord of the South China Sea is to develop these assets into robust platforms that can provide both logistic support for a myriad of fishing boats, government vessels, submarines and aircraft to dominate the sky and the water of the region, and some grounds for generating large economic and security zones.

This is precisely what Beijing is doing. An uninhabited sandbank sixty years ago, Woody Island now has roughly 1,000 residents, military and civilian alike. Its dual-use facilities include a 2,700-meter airport with a runway and a parallel taxiway, which is capable of handling eight or more fourth-generation aircrafts such as SU-30MKK fighters and JH-7 bombers, and a 1,000-meter long deep-water port, which can accommodate vessels of 5,000 tons or more.

Down south in the Spratly Islands, starting in 2013, China has also been conducting massive construction projects to turn the rocks it occupies into islands. According to Taiwan’s top intelligence official Lee Hsiang-chou, Chinese president Xi Jinping has approved plans to reclaim land to build military installations on five islets here, including Cuarteron Reef, Johnson South Reef, Gaven Reef, Hughes Reef and Fiery Cross Reef.

The most consequential of these island-building projects is on Fiery Cross Reef. From a naturally submerged atoll, Fiery Cross Reef will soon be the largest island in the Spratlys. After the current land reclamation, with an expected land area of 2 square kilometers, it will be four times as large as the naturally largest island in the archipelago, the Itu Aba, which is held by Taiwan. This expanded area will enable Fiery Cross Reef to host a 3,000-meter long airfield, a deep-water seaport, radar stations, several medium- to long-range missiles and other storage and service infrastructure capable of supporting hundreds of fishing boats, patrol vessels, warships and aircrafts.

It would not be surprising if in the near-to-medium term Beijing would also build airstrips and deep-water harbors at Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal and set up an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.

With its enlarged and strategically located islands, China has more potential than any other major powers to gain air and naval supremacy in the South China Sea. Although Beijing still has a long way to go, it is not unimaginable to see in the next two decades a South China Sea dotted with powerful Chinese staging bases that stretch from the Paracel Islands in the northwest to Mischief Reef in the southeast, and from Scarborough Shoal in the northeast to Fiery Cross Reef in the southwest.

Is this creeping expansion unstoppable? Although the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” (DOC), signed by China and the ASEAN states in 2002, provides little ground for a blockade of the construction sites, states that want to maintain the status quo can still send international observers to verify the constructions and mount diplomatic pressure to persuade China to suspend the work.

Another way to challenge China’s weiqi strategy is to take a page from Beijing’s own playbook. For example, in a first step, Vietnam can offer the Indian military access to naval facilities in Cam Ranh Bay and the U.S. military access to air bases in Da Nang, two of Vietnam’s most strategic locations along the South China Sea coast. If China does not heed the message, this initial countermove can be redoubled with offers to the U.S. and Japanese militaries and coast guards of access to Cam Ranh and Da Nang, from which they can patrol the South China Sea. Ultimately, if China is still determined to turn the South China Sea into a Chinese lake, a strong alliance between Vietnam, the Philippines, the United States, Japan and India is necessary to redress the imbalance of power.

China’s grand strategy in the South China Sea is a smart game plan that exploits the soft underbelly of strategies relying on large battles, two examples of which include both the Air-Sea Battle concept, the premier U.S. operational concept designed to negate China’s anti-access area-denial capabilities, and its major alternative, the Offshore Control concept. But this strategy of creeping expansion is far from perfect. It can be thwarted if the United States, Vietnam and some other regional powers play weiqi as skillfully as China.

Alexander L. Vuving is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. You Can Follow him on Twitter: @Alex_Vuving.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Israel Defense Forces/CC by-sa 3.0

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 4th 2015, 15:36

Sand Pebbles: Why Are Superpowers Squabbling Over Rocks?

China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea is alarming the Navy and prompting calls for a more vigorous U.S. response.

By Keith Johnson
April 2, 2015
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Sand Pebbles: Why Are Superpowers Squabbling Over Rocks?

Over the past year, Beijing has significantly raised the temperature in the South China Sea with a series of provocative actions that have unsettled nearby neighbors and furrowed brows in Washington. At question is just how the U.S. should respond to a frontal challenge that directly affects the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia without risking escalation or upending the need for broader cooperation between the world’s two great superpowers.

Since early last year, China has pushed drilling rigs into Vietnamese waters, built air-defense zones over disputed islands, and most recently has embarked on a massive land-reclamation effort on a spate of deserted reefs and rocks in the vital waterway. It appears to be part of a pattern of more assertive Chinese behavior that has intensified under the leadership of Xi Jinping, and it has policymakers, military leaders, U.S. lawmakers, and outside experts grappling with just how Washington should respond.

At first blush, it may seem odd that the status of tiny outcrops in the middle of the ocean could threaten relations between the two superpowers who need to cooperate on a spate of challenges such as managing the global economy, fighting nuclear proliferation, and tackling climate change.

But ultimately, it’s not really about rocks or reefs or rigs, or even the prospect of big deposits of oil and natural gas underneath the South China Sea. Rather, it boils down to a vision of the international order and raises the fundamental question of whether a rising China will continue to respect global rules put in place in the decades after World War II — or whether it seeks to undermine them and reshape the global order in its own image, including the use of coercion to advance its diplomatic goals. And the pace and scope of Chinese challenges to the existing order have amplified calls for Washington to move beyond canned condemnations and take a sharper line on Beijing’s behavior.

“The situation on the ground is changing, and U.S. behavior isn’t changing enough,” said Oriana Skylar Mastro, an Asia-Pacific expert at Georgetown University.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Thursday released a Pentagon-commissioned study on future scenarios for cooperation and conflict in the Pacific. It stressed the key role that U.S. strategy, rather than Chinese moves, can play in shaping the next quarter century.

But even Obama administration officials acknowledge that their Chinese counterparts are unreceptive to U.S. pleas for moderation or expressions of concern; Chinese foreign-policy spokesmen repeatedly chide Washington for butting in on what Beijing sees as bilateral disputes.

For years, China has been pushing an aggressive interpretation of its rights in the South China Sea, a vital waterway through which $5 trillion of global trade passes each year. Based on a 1940s-era map, the so-called “9-dash line,” Beijing claims nearly the whole area, while neighbors such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia have their own claims to parts of the sea. Since last summer, China has sought to put muscle behind its legal claims by dredging sand and physically increasing the size of tiny and isolated atolls.

Those actions, which analysts and U.S. officials say go far beyond anything similar carried out by China’s neighbors, worry warriors and wonks alike.

U.S. naval leaders have increasingly sounded the alarm over Chinese antics. Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told a House committee last month that Chinese behavior in the South China Sea, especially efforts to build military installations on abandoned reefs, poses a threat to regional stability. Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, warned this week in Australia that Beijing’s “great walls of sand” raise questions over whether China seeks cooperation or confrontation.

Top U.S. lawmakers, including the heads and ranking members of the Senate armed services and foreign relations committees, wrote President Barack Obama last month urging the administration to craft a strategy to deal with China’s challenge. Beijing’s use of coercion to alter the status quo in the South and East China Seas, in particular, “demands a comprehensive response from the United States and our partners,” wrote Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

The Obama administration recognizes the threat from Chinese behavior, and sees it as, in some ways, a bellwether of where Beijing’s foreign policy is headed.

“China’s behavior on maritime disputes is raising real concerns in the United States and in the region, and the more it proceeds with land reclamation, it will generate insecurity and create the possibility for real long-term instability,” said a senior Obama administration official.

“How China proceeds with these projects will be a key indicator of what its intentions are in the South China Sea, and more broadly,” a senior U.S. State Department official told Foreign Policy.

Many security analysts agree that China’s newfound aggressiveness raises the risk of confrontation and could force the United States to modify the way that it has addressed China’s maritime and territorial challenges so far.

The Carnegie study also underscored the degree to which maritime disputes, like China’s fights with neighbors over barren rocks in the South China Sea or with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, could spark regional tensions and even armed conflict in years to come. The report urged Washington to “sharpen” its response to maritime disputes, perhaps by crafting ways to share the region’s energy resources and so make each reef and sandbar less vital to grab and garrison.

But even as China has flouted international law and regional agreements to build airstrips and other military installations on disputed bits of rock, Washington has largely stuck to the same playbook it has employed for years. That includes urging China to respect the rule of law, and expressing serious concern when Beijing doesn’t play by the rules.

When China does take provocative steps — such as dispatching an oil rig to waters claimed by Vietnam and guarding it with scores of warships, or laying an airstrip on a rock it doesn’t even own — diplomats have repeatedly rapped Beijing’s knuckles both publicly and privately. At the same time, Washington has bolstered the ability of allies and partners in the region, for example by allowing arms sales to Vietnam or beefing up the Philippine navy.

“If China continues its assertive activities, we’ll continue to speak out and work with partners and allies to uphold peace and stability,” the State Department official said.

But critics say those verbal protests largely fall on deaf ears in Beijing, and entreaties to China’s better angels have so far failed to produce a substantive change in Chinese foreign policy. “Trying to convince the Chinese that certain things are or are not in their national interest I think is a dead end,” Georgetown’s Mastro said. “They will always have different strategic priorities.”

The big question is how the United States should respond to China’s maritime aggression even as it seeks greater cooperation across a broad range of other issues, from Iran to North Korea to cybersecurity. “We have no illusions about the complexity of dealing with a rising power like China,” said the administration official. “We have to find the right balance between cooperation and competition, and it’s a shifting balance depending on their behavior.”

When it comes to Beijing’s in-your-face approach to the South China Sea, Washington has sought above all to maintain peace and stability in the region, de-escalating potential conflicts with China, and repeatedly urging Beijing to abide by the rule of law, including the U.N. Law of the Sea and a regional code of conduct, both of which are meant to regulate states’ behavior regarding territorial claims.

At the same time, administration officials say that China itself is learning that its aggressive behavior can be counterproductive. Beijing’s approach in recent years has indeed pushed Japan to jettison its post-World War II pacifism and embrace a more ambitious defense role. It has nudged countries like the Philippines and Vietnam closer to the United States, and has redoubled Australia’s commitment to Washington. Chinese arrogance has to a certain extent unified many countries in the normally fractious Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional security group.

“We highlight to the Chinese that this just pushes countries more toward the United States, who in particular are looking for greater security cooperation with us,” said the senior administration official. He highlighted President Obama’s “historic” reaffirmation of U.S. security guarantees to Japan, which would be activated in the event Tokyo and Beijing came to blows over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Of course, greater support for allies and partners carries its own risks, which make responding to Chinese behavior even more challenging. Backstopping countries such as Japan or the Philippines in their territorial disputes with China could lead Washington into the real Thucydidean trap, where a big power gets sucked into war due to reckless behavior by a smaller ally. The new Carnegie study highlights the risk of a “vicious cycle” where the U.S. backs allies in order to send a signal to China, but only ends up encouraging more risky behavior.

Ultimately, many experts say, the United States won’t be able to chart a good response to smaller irritants like oil rigs and reef reclamation until it comes to grips with the elephant in the room: how can China and the United States find a way to co-exist after seventy years of unquestioned U.S. dominance in the Asia-Pacific?

“The broader, big picture, strategic issues have to be resolved before we can talk about the tactics of dealing with Chinese assertiveness,” Mastro said. “People at the highest levels of the U.S. government have to decide, how are we willing to change to allow for the peaceful rise of China, and are those costs prohibitively high?”

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Abril 4th 2015, 15:37

Crowded Waters

The superpower battle for regional supremacy in the South China Sea is heating up once again.

By Abraham M. Denmark
June 7, 2011
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Crowded Waters

For the last two years, a quiet showdown has played out over the South China Sea, the body of water bordered by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan. This little-known body of water is of vast strategic importance: Fully one-third of the world’s maritime trade traverses the South China Sea, and some optimistic estimates of its untapped stores of oil and natural gas would make it a second Persian Gulf. The South China Sea is also a major highway linking the oil fields of the Middle East and the factories of East Asia, with more than 80 percent of China’s oil imports (and large percentages for Japan and South Korea as well) flowing over its waters. As influential Asia-watcher Robert D. Kaplan has put it, the South China Sea’s importance to the region makes it the "Asian Mediterranean."

Due to these waters’ importance, several countries — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam — claim sovereignty over part of these waters. Yet China claims rights of sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, as detailed in the "9-dash line" included in its submission to the United Nations. While tension in these waters has waxed and waned for several decades, recent years have seen an uptick in tensions. Starting in 2009, two discernable rounds of geopolitical intrigue can be identified, and last week likely marked the beginning of round three.

The first round began in March 2009, when Chinese fishing vessels harassed the U.S. surveillance ship Impeccable in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of China’s Hainan Island. Three months later, a Chinese submarine collided (apparently accidentally) with the towed sonar array of the USS John S. McCain near Subic Bay off the coast of the Philippines. Other aggressive moves followed, including reports that Beijing had declared the South China Sea to be a "core interest," putting it on par with Taiwan and Xinjiang as fundamental strategic priorities. China’s assertiveness was noted around the world and caused a strong reaction.

Round two. In July 2010, the United States and much of Southeast Asia pushed back. At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Hanoi, 12 Southeast Asian countries complained of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared freedom of navigation within the South China Sea to be a national interest of the United States. China initially reacted harshly to this pushback, with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reportedly declaring Clinton’s remarks in Hanoi to be "an attack on China" and not so subtly reminding his Singaporean counterpart that "China is a big country and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact." A subsequent statement by the Chinese military reiterated China’s "indisputable sovereignty" over 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea — which much of Southeast Asia naturally disputed.

The backlash apparently proved too diplomatically costly for Beijing, and China has gradually backed away from its previous assertive behavior. The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Robert Willard, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this April that China’s naval behavior in the first months of 2011 had been less assertive than it was in 2010. Chinese leaders routinely claim that China does not seek to replace the United States as the leading world power, and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo has forsworn a Chinese "Monroe Doctrine." Still, many in Washington and throughout Southeast Asia saw China’s pullback as largely a tactical reaction to the harsh reaction it had caused and not as a strategic decision to abandon its ambitious claims of sovereignty, brazen reinterpretations of international law, and the use of harassment and coercion as tools of policy.

Round three began last week in Singapore, when the leading defense officials of the Asia-Pacific region gathered for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). (Full disclosure: The author is a member of IISS.) Speakers included the Malaysian prime minister, Russia’s deputy prime ministers, and defense ministers from Australia, Britain, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, and Vietnam. All gave official statements, and many participated in open question-and-answer sessions (including Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, who was questioned rather expertly by FP’s Cable Guy). There were also several minister-to-minister meetings on the side of the dialogue, including a meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Liang. More than anything else, the South China Sea was repeatedly mentioned throughout the dialogue as a key issue, and many officials used the dialogue as an opportunity to announce their country’s approach to the region. Based on these remarks, round three on the South China Sea has clearly begun and will likely be defined by three interrelated trends.

First, the United States is backing up its political statements with an increased military presence in Southeast Asia. Delivering his farewell message to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Gates announced that the United States would station littoral combat ships — new, relatively small ships designed to patrol the shallow littoral waters that permeate Southeast Asia — in Singapore, expand cooperation with Australia in the Indian Ocean, and increase the number of exercises and port visits conducted in the region by the U.S. military. Gates also announced the Obama administration’s intention to sustain the United States’ military presence in the region, despite the budget pressures back home. To lend specificity to his claim, Gates promised that the United States would sustain funding for "air superiority and mobility, long-range strike, nuclear deterrence, maritime access, space and cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance" — all technologies needed to contain China. (It should be noted, however, that future procurement decisions will be made by the next defense secretary and Congress.)

Second, China is trying to allay regional concerns, but ultimately will not back down. In Singapore, Liang struck a more conciliatory tone than last year’s Chinese speaker. He disavowed claims that China seeks to challenge U.S. military superiority or limit freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. He called for dialogue and negotiation to resolve disputes and reiterated China’s oft-stated commitment to the region’s peaceful development.

Yet these rather benign statements stand in sharp contrast with recent actions in the South China Sea. Just days prior to Liang’s speech, a Vietnamese survey vessel conducting oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea allegedly had its seismic cables cut by a Chinese ship, and hundreds of Vietnamese subsequently converged on the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi in protest. Similarly, in recent days the Philippines has accused China of "serious violations" in the South China Sea, including the unloading of construction materials on disputed islands. Meanwhile, China continues to makes its neighbors nervous by investing in increasingly capable naval military capabilities. Rumors abound that China’s first aircraft carrier is nearing operational status, and the Pentagon has been tracking China’s burgeoning naval strength for several years.

Finally, regional investment in naval power is expanding, raising the potential for cooperation and the danger of conflict — and not just between China and the United States. Vietnam used the Shangri-La Dialogue to confirm its intention to purchase six Russian-built Kilo-class attack submarines, as well as Su-30 fighters and surface-to-air missiles. Several other states around the region, including Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore have also recently announced plans to beef up their naval capabilities, leading some in the United States to point to an emerging Southeast Asian naval arms race. Although others have pointed out that many of the arms being procured in the region are not targeted at China but rather at other regional powers, the key takeaway is that the waters of Southeast Asia are about to get very crowded.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Asia is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, and the U.S. Navy could use more help when tragedies like this year’s earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast or the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami strike. Yet busy international waters are inherently dangerous. Submarines and surface ships can easily bump into one another, endangering the crews involved and adding a dangerously destabilizing element to the complex overlapping claims that crisscross the South China Sea. Moreover, states with newfound naval capabilities now have the ability to use force, or the threat of force, to enforce claims that could mean billions of dollars in natural resources and a significant boost in national prestige.

Clearly, there is a need to harness this rather raw and nascent naval power into something that contributes to the health and success of the international system, rather than feeding a debilitating cycle of fear, antagonism, and conflict. The United States and China have an opportunity to lead the region down a productive path. A good start would be multilateral efforts to improve the region’s capacity for humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery, which would develop the habits of healthy cooperation and build trust. There is also clearly a need for the region, including the United States and China, to adopt something along the lines of the 1972 "incidents at sea" agreement developed by the United States and the Soviet Union to avoid maritime collisions and manage the potential for crises resulting from accidental collisions.

A disastrous Southeast Asian arms race is not inevitable. The United States should encourage the rise of new naval powers that can help maintain their own independence, provided they do not limit freedom of navigation or threaten regional stability — both of which are of primary importance to Washington. As these powers emerge, they will likely expect continued U.S. assistance and engagement, yet will also seek to retain good ties with China as well. That’s normal. After all, this isn’t the 20th century, when spheres of influence and axes defined great-power competition. Geopolitics in the 21st century recognizes that integration builds stability and allows for states to pursue economic competition rather than territorial aggrandizement. The key for all involved is to allow for such complexity.

We’ll see what round four has to offer.

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Mensaje por ivan_077 Julio 29th 2017, 01:56

China's Window of Opportunity in the South China Sea

Domestic and international stars have aligned to give China a chance to put forward a solution.
By Xue Li and Cheng Zhangxi
July 26, 2017

The South China Sea (SCS) issue has now arrived at a critical point. China should take the advantages of this opportunity to adjust its South China Sea approach – to steer from a “unilateral win” formula to “multilateral win” formula, so as to take lead in the problem-solving process. This new approach should drive the South China Sea problem-solving process to a faster track, in the process clearing out major obstacles to building a Southeast Asian hub for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).

Based on different opinions regarding sovereignty over islands and reefs and maritime interests and rights, the claimant parties in the South China Sea can be divided into two groups: mainland China and Taiwan, and the four ASEAN claimants (Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei). The majority of the ASEAN non-claimants, along with some outsiders — led by European countries, the United States, Japan and Australia — tend to support the claims made by the ASEAN claimants, whereas a minority of the ASEAN non-claimants, Russia, South Korea, and some other outsiders stand neutral. Although there also are some disputes between the ASEAN claimants themselves, for the moment these disputes are considered “minor” in the face of their mutual confrontation with China.

At the moment, the South China Sea is in a relatively peaceful period, but over years of development, it has already been shaped into a trifold game between China and the United States; China and the ASEAN claimants; and China and the ASEAN as a whole. The game between China and the United States is the major conflict, but the game that sees the ASEAN claimants using ASEAN against China is increasingly tense. Because the South China Sea issue is already a flashpoint in China-ASEAN relations, it is considered an indicator for China’s overall foreign policy, as well a major tool to the United States’ Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy. The South China Sea issue is also a key security question for ASEAN countries and seen as a touchstone for the ASEAN security cooperation. China, meanwhile, has called for downplaying the South China Sea issue whilst strengthening political, economic, and cultural cooperation with ASEAN countries, but the outcomes so far are barely visible.

The ASEAN countries believe that China has become increasingly assertive regarding the South China Sea issue over the past few years. Along with China’s rise, this puts them in an even more disadvantageous position. As a response, the ASEAN claimants propelled the internationalization of the South China Sea issue and became more reliant on the United States and other foreign countries to deal with their security concerns. Only when China and the ASEAN agree on a binding working framework for handling the disputes will the ASEAN claimants then begin economic and cultural cooperation with China, and maybe venture attempts to strengthen security cooperation as well.

It is highly unlikely to see the South China Sea issue resolved in the short term. However, the South China Sea issue may not necessarily get in the way of promoting cooperation between China and the ASEAN claimants. Of course, this outcome requires a relatively more relaxed external environment and a smoother internal environment. The external environment mainly concerns the degree of intervention made by outside countries (i.e. major powers). The internal environment on the other hand, mainly refers to the domestic political stance of the ASEAN claimants and the resulting political relationships between these countries. On both fronts, China currently has a unique window of opportunity to improve its relationships with ASEAN claimants.

External Environment

Considering that populism and the anti-globalization trend have made developed countries less concerned about issues abroad, there is currently a relatively relaxed external environment for resolving the South China Sea issue. For the purpose of this analysis, Japan, the European Union, India, and Russia form the major external powers, with the United States taking the lead.

The Asia-Pacific region is in no doubt one of the United States’ most concerned areas. As an experienced hegemon, the United States is well aware that it has to give way to China’s rise, but in the meantime, it is hoping to slow down this process, as well as to increase the cost of the rise of China’s maritime power. In order to achieve this, the Obama administration shifted its military deployments to the Second Island Chain, strengthened the mobility of the First Island Chain, and urged its allies and partners to make further input so as to form an arc (from northern Japan to Darwin, Australia) to counterbalance China. However, the new Trump administration, whilst promising to “make America great again” and emphasizing “America first,” is likely to place more stress on domestic development and demand other countries assume more responsibilities.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration will continue to counterbalance China, but in practice, it might adopt a more tiered approach (e.g. prioritizing the North Korean nuclear issue first, and then the East China Sea and Taiwan, then the South China Sea, and so on) rather than carry on the arc strategy employed by the Obama administration.

If “core interest” is considered as vital to a nation as the brain is to the human body, freedom of navigation, though critical for the U.S. Navy, is not one of the United States’ core interests. The key to the U.S. Navy’s definition of freedom of navigation is the right to conduct military activities (including intelligence gathering) within other countries’ exclusive economic zones. To this end, the United States defined freedom of navigation in its own favor after World War II and promoted its stand with its much superior naval power. The reason behind the establishment of the Freedom of Navigation Program in 1979 is to continuously promote the United States’ maritime claims using its own domestic laws and regulations, even after the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) took effect, and to challenge what the United States regards as “excessive maritime claims.”

The Freedom of Navigation Program in practice carries out out Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) to challenge maritime claims by both allies and opponents. The South China Sea is a major area for carrying out FONOPs, but it is not the only one. In this context, FONOPs in the South China Sea are more of a bargaining chip, just like FONOPs in the Black Sea during the Cold War. Furthermore, after the United States lost its “Filipino arm” when President Rodrigo Duterte scaled back military cooperation with the United States, the significance of FONOPs is also greatly reduced. All told, then, the external environment is more conducive than anytime in recent memory for China to pursue peace in the South China Sea.

Internal Environment

The South China Sea issue involves mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. The six other ASEAN countries are non-claimants; of these, Indonesia and Singapore are more influential on the South China Sea issue.

ASEAN Non-Claimants

Even though Indonesia is not one of the parties claiming disputed islands and reefs, there are about 50,000 square kilometers of exclusive economic zone north of its Natuna Islands situated within China’s nine-dash line. In order to strengthen its claim, not only has Indonesia been sending immigrants to the Natuna Islands for the past 20 years or so, in recent times, it also boosted military deployments to the area. Overall, though, Indonesia seems to be more discrete and realistic about the South China Sea issue.

When Joko “Jokowi” Widodo assumed the presidency in 2014, he put forward a vision for Indonesia to become a “global maritime fulcrum.” With a willingness to promote economic development, he pledged his support to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China regards Indonesia as one of the key players in building the Belt and Road. At this stage, China-Indonesia cooperation has been continuously deepening. More to the point, Jokowi announced publicly during his 2014 election campaign that the South China Sea issue is so complicated that he would not to pay much attention to it unless a good potential solution emerges. That indicates Jokowi will probably keep a sound relationship with China — although during his re-election campaign in 2019, Jokowi might try taking a stronger hand toward the issue in view to fend off his conservative rival, General Prabowo Subianto.

Singapore, as the only developed country of the ASEAN members, with a high dependency on sea trade, is committed to promote ASEAN integration and play a “chief of staff” role. When it comes to the South China Sea issue, Singapore is keen on acting strongly against China. This, in the past few years, has inevitably led to turbulence in the China-Singapore relationship. However, given that Singapore’s economy is highly compatible with China’s, it has neither the ability nor the intention to openly confront China. Vietnam and the Philippines’ preferences to not publicly confront China are also holding back Singapore’s ambitions. These together indicate that Singapore will not pursue a radical SCS policy in the near future.

ASEAN Claimants

Of the four ASEAN claimants, Vietnam and the Philippines clearly have more disagreements with China, and they advocate using a multilateral framework to solve the issue. The Philippines in the past even attempted to pursue its interests through third-party arbitration by filing a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Malaysia and Brunei, in contrast, are more settled about the South China Sea issue. Politically, they are more prone to using a bilateral framework to solve the issue, while managing differences and promoting cooperation.

There are two groups of political elites within the Vietnamese government – the Southern Clique and the Northern Clique. The new Vietnamese government is mainly formed by the Northern Clique, which is by and large China-friendly. Thus China and Vietnam are likely to maintain a relatively friendly relationship until 2021. As history suggests, the delimitation of land borders and the maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin) were all achieved under friendly circumstances. In this sense, Vietnam and China stand a good chance of coming to some common understanding over the South China Sea issue under the current Vietnamese government.

Likewise, there is a window of opportunity with the Philippines. The South China Sea policy adopted by former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III drove China-Philippines relationship to a nadir, and directly caused the “globalization” of the SCS disputes. After Duterte’s inauguration in 2016, the Philippines’ revised SCS policy has made great improvements to the China-Philippines relationship. At present, the prospects for China-Philippines ties are no less optimistic than they were during the Arroyo period, and the impact of SCS issue is kept to a minimum. Until the next presidential election, due in 2022, Duterte is very likely to continue this friendly approach, and limit the impact of SCS issue on bilateral relations.

As for Malaysia, since Prime Minister Najib Razak came to power in 2009, China-Malaysia relations has seen their best era in history. Najib insists on dealing with the SCS issue through a bilateral framework, and quietly resolved the recent Luconia Breakers dispute. Compare that to the previous prime ministers who set foot on Swallow Reef to claim ownership. At the moment, Najib is most likely to continue his premiership for another four years after the next election.

Finally, there has been an obvious increase in economic cooperation between China and Brunei in recent years. When it comes to jointly developing offshore oil and gas resources, Brunei holds a positive attitude and co-signed a joint declaration with China on the subject in 2013. Given that this joint development was hugely delayed due to Malaysia’s objection, a commonly understood solution to the South China Sea issue is in no doubt in Brunei’s favor.


Taiwan’s South China Sea stand mainly comes from the South China Sea Policy Guidelines established in 1993, which clearly stated that the waters within the nine-dash line are its “historic waters.” Although Taiwan is very unlikely to have a seat at the negotiation table over the South China Sea issue, there is still the possibility that it could carry out cooperation with the ASEAN countries. However, given her leanings toward “Taiwan independence” it’s likely that Tsai Ing-wen will be less concerned about the South China Sea issue than Ma Ying-jeou was.

Mainland China

In China, Xi Jinping might be the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. While he is fully capable of making and implementing major foreign policies (e.g. the Belt and Road Initiative), including pursuing a resolution to the South China Sea disputes. The key lies in making the case that such foreign policy initiatives are necessary.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a top-level blueprint for foreign relations determined by the new Chinese government under Xi. Centering on economic development, it emphasizes promoting infrastructure and manufacturing throughout the Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, and even parts of Africa. In the promotion of the BRI, China has shown the leadership and responsibility of a great power to some extent, but at the same time, it also should realize that there still are political, security, and cultural differences slowing down the process. One of those is the South China Sea issue.

As the biggest coastal country of the South China Sea, it falls to China to come up with a “win-win” plan to sort out the SCS issue and take the lead in the process. Other claimants do not have the capacity to do so. At present, China is swinging between “protecting rights first” and “keeping SCS stability first.” The former focuses on China’s own national interests rather than those of the other claimants; the latter focuses on controlling differences, so as to keep the impact of the South China Sea issue to a minimum and carry on cooperation in other aspects. Given that both of these ideas center on China’s unilateral interests, they neither facilitate avoiding tensions nor help resolve the fundamental issue.

In addition to promoting economic cooperation with its neighboring countries, China, as a rising great power, should also take into consideration their security concerns and gain their trust in cooperation with China. Otherwise, China will see its neighboring countries turn to other partners. China must remember that the SCS dispute is the most important regional security issue for ASEAN countries.

As it stands, the SCS disputes have already gotten in the way of building the Southeast Asian hub of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). Not only did the disputes sabotage the enthusiasm of the ASEAN claimants, but also wounded the participation of non-claimants. This is the main reason why Vietnam continuously replies that it “has to further observe” the Belt and Road Initiative before making a decision. The South China Sea issue is now like an infection in the China-ASEAN relationship; the treatment is a binding multilateral working framework.

Based on the above discussion, both the external environment and internal environment for resolving the South China Sea issue are in China’s favor at the moment. Should China miss this time window, there is a good chance that this “infection” will flare up once again at the slightest touch.

The next few years provide a window of opportunity for the claimants to work together to push forward a solution to the South China Sea issue. Rather than settling in to this seemingly peaceful but temporary situation, China should take this opportunity to initiate a new approach to the South China Sea issue so as to take the lead in the problem-solving process and fundamentally end this passive situation. The key to this new approach should be the idea of a win-win, comprehensive plan to resolve the South China Sea issue. Not only is this China’s obligation as a rising great power, but it is also the solution to the security concerns of the Southeast Asian countries, as well as the key the building the Southeast Asian hub of the MSR.

Xue Li is a Professor at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Cheng Zhangxi has a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews.

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