1-30: South China Sea From China’s POV

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from South China Morning Post, January 27.]

I remain troubled and concerned by Sino-American double daring in the South China Sea. Consider Friday’s reporting from South China Morning Post’s Liu Zhen.

China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’

Reporter Liu Zhen writes that “China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US” and warns (my word) that “Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.” She goes on to write: the “People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday … that the chances of war have become ‘more real’ amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.”

We rarely read in the American press such strong rhetoric coming from China. Thus, my fear. Liu continues,

The commentary written by an official at the national defence mobilisation department in the Central Military Commission said the call for a US rebalancing of its strategy in Asia, military deployments in the East and South China Seas, and the instillation of a missile defence system in South Korea were hot spots getting closer to ignition.

“Instillation” is her word—not a misspelling of installation—which bears thought, as we think of instilling values in our children not installing them. Liu then paraphrases from an official publication of the Chinese government, People’s Daily:

China’s military [will] conduct exercises on the high seas regardless of foreign provocations. [For example,] China’s sole aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait last month.

More troubling, she adds … to her Chinese readership:

New White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a press conference … that the US would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

Spicer told the press “the US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there” … “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” he said.

From what source do we, the USA, derive unilateral authority to “defend international territories”? China responded quickly and directly to Spicer’s comments.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying [told] the US “to be cautious in what it says and does, so as to avoid harming the peace and stability in the region.”

Warning!

Liu notes: “President Xi Jinping is overseeing massive reforms within China’s military to improve its fighting capabilities.” She also states ominously,

Vice-Admiral Yuan Yubai, the former North Sea Fleet commander, has been promoted to head the Southern Theatre Command, which focuses on the South China Sea. “Promoting naval officers to command theatres is aimed at utilising them to the maximum and getting ready to win wars …”

As I have worried before, openly in this space, our military presence throughout East Asia is not a trifling matter. Without the invocation of trite slogans such as “defending freedom” or “keeping the world safe,” I would genuinely like to hear from our government a concise definition of “American interests.”

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The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

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