Friday, May 29, 2015

• China Warns Of World War 3 Unless The US Backs Down On South China Sea - By: Vikas Shukla

An increasingly assertive China has warned that World War 3 is "inevitable" unless the United States stops meddling in the South China Sea affairs. Earlier this week, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said in a new white paper that it is going to up the ante in the South China Sea. In a sign of its growing self-confidence, Beijing said that it would now focus less on defensive capabilities, and step up efforts to build offensive capabilities.

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China expresses ‘strong concern’ at Japan's involvement in South China Sea

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China ready to use force beyond its borders
China is aggressively building artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands. The construction includes runways and port facilities that could harbor military planes and warships. Islands in the region are also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, who have all protested against China's expansion.

Last week, a U.S. military plane ignored repeated warning from the PLA to fly a reconnaissance mission over the disputed islands. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has refused to recognize artificial islands as "maritime zones control by a nation." He said Washington was determined to protect the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as is allowed under International conventions.

The Chinese military's new white paper notes that it is ready to use force beyond its borders in the air and at sea "to safeguard its maritime possessions." Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said that China does not want a war. But if the United States' bottom line was to make China halt its activities, then a World War 3 was inevitable.

U.S. interference could trigger a World War 3
The newspaper suggests that China will not stop construction of these artificial islands at any cost. Any more interference by "external countries" could trigger a World War 3 and Beijing will "accept" it. Experts say neither United States nor China wants to back down. They fear that even a minor incident around the artificial islands could escalate rapidly into a full-fledged war.

Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Temple University, said that China misjudging the situation is the real concern. Neither country wants a war if it can be avoided, but both countries have some red lines, said Dujarric.

BEIJING — A Chinese admiral said on Sunday that Beijing could set up an air defense zone above disputed areas of the South China Sea if it felt it was facing a large enough threat, according to Chinese news media.

Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, told a regional security forum in Singapore that China had not said it would defintely create a so-called air defense identification zone, but that any decision would be based on an aerial threat assessment and the general security situation. He also said other nations should not overemphasize the issue.

The creation of an air defense zone would be viewed by the United States and Southeast Asian nations as a huge provocation. In recent years, foreign officials have speculated whether one of Beijing’s next moves in the South China Sea would be to set up such a zone, whose existence would further solidify China’s military presence in the waters.

In November 2013, to the dismay of Japan and the United States, China declared an air defense identification zone over disputed waters in the East China Sea. Chinese military aircraft began requiring all other aircraft flying through the zone to identify themselves, and commercial airliners complied, though the United States sent B-52 bombers through the zone without advance warning to challenge Beijing.

In late May, Chinese officials told the United States to stop sending surveillance flights near land formations that China claims are its territory. American officials say the flights had taken place over international waters.

Admiral Sun’s remarks came during a question-and-answer session after he delivered the main Chinese speech at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore. As at previous such meetings, much of the focus of the conference, which ended on Sunday, was on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations all have competing claims to waters, islands, reefs, shoals and sandbars. In recent weeks, the United States has criticized China for island-building and land reclamation efforts on disputed reefs and atolls that were uninhabited until recently.

In his address to the security conference on Saturday, Ashton B. Carter, the United States defense secretary, reiterated an earlier demand for China and other nations to stop such island-building. The United States has said that China is building much faster than any other nation and has completed 2,000 acres of land reclamation in the last 18 months. Vietnam and the Philippines have built structures on some land formations, but much of that construction took place before 2002, when China and rival claimants to territory signed a nonbinding agreement to cease any provocative activity in the region.

About a month ago, the United States military spotted a pair of mobile artillery vehicles on one of the new islands, but those soon vanished, American officials said last week. China has said its islands will be used for maritime aid as well as military defense.

China and the Chinese military have never feared the devil or an evil force, and we are convinced by reason but not by hegemony,Admiral Sun said on Sunday, according to a transcript of his speech posted by the Chinese Defense Ministry. “Don’t ever expect us to surrender to devious heresies or a mighty power. And don’t ever expect us to swallow the bitter fruits that would harm our sovereignty, security and development interests.”

He added that the United States was guilty of hypocrisy, since it had criticized China’s military deployment on the islands while its officials had, at the same time, said they would bring weapons of their own to bear on the regional situation.

China has maintained that its right to construction is based on its understanding that the territory belongs to China. On Saturday, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, released a long, six-point rebuttal to Mr. Carter’s statements, including some phrases that Admiral Sun also used, saying that “the U.S. side made inappropriate remarks on China’s longstanding sovereignty as well as rights and interests in the South China Sea to foment dissension and criticized China’s normal and justified construction activities on islands and reefs.”

Admiral Sun said Sunday that the situation in the South China Sea had been “peaceful and stable” and that there was no problem with freedom of navigation in the sea.

He added that China remained committed to resolving the disputes with its neighbors through talks. But China has long insisted that any such talks be undertaken bilaterally, not by more than two countries at a time.

We can’t enter the 21st century with our bodies alone while leaving our heads in the past, under the limits of colonial expansionism, a Cold War mentality and a zero-sum game,” he said, adding that China wanted to promote “win-win cooperation.”

The United States and countries in the region say China’s actions are taking place at the expense of other nations’ interests and are jeopardizing diplomatic relations. Most notably, in May 2014, China placed an exploratory oil rig near the Vietnamese coast and off the shores of the Paracel Islands, land formations also claimed by Vietnam. That prompted daily clashes between Chinese Coast Guard vessels and Vietnamese boats, along with deadly rioting in Vietnamese cities against factories perceived to have Chinese owners and workers.

In a possible sign of the growing importance of the Chinese Navy, Admiral Sun was the first naval officer appointed by Beijing to lead its delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue since China began attending in 2007. He was also the most senior military officer to lead the delegation since 2011.

Admiral Sun, 63, is the only naval officer in the current eight-person leadership of the People’s Liberation Army general staff headquarters, which oversees the navy. He joined the navy at age 16, when he began a decade of training at the main submarine college. He then served for many years as a captain of both conventional and nuclear submarines, earning the nickname Iron Captain. In 1985, he commanded a crew for a voyage of 90 days straight on a nuclear submarine, breaking a record held by the United States Navy, according to a report on the website of The People’s Daily, the flagship Communist Party newspaper. He was promoted to the rank of admiral in 2011.

Admiral Sun’s submarine background dovetails with the growing emphasis of the Chinese military on open-water force projection. On Tuesday, the Chinese military issued a strategy paper, its first in two years, that said it intended to project naval power in the open ocean in addition to defending coastal waters.

As the admiral was speaking, Mr. Carter departed Singapore for Vietnam, where he spent the afternoon in Haiphong, the port city that is home to the country’s naval and Coast Guard headquarters. Mr. Carter visited both — the first American defense secretary to do so - and went aboard a Vietnamese Coast Guard ship.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Carter said that the United States and Vietnam would on Monday sign a “joint vision statement after he met with his counterpart in Hanoi. The purpose of the statement was to “modernize” the growing ties between the United States and Vietnam, Mr. Carter said, adding that the United States was also planning to give Vietnam $18 million to help purchase patrol boats.

Mr. Carter said he would also discuss with Vietnamese officials an American proposal for all the countries claiming territory in the South China Sea that would halt all land reclamation efforts. But the thrust of Mr. Carter’s comments were about the growing ties between the United States and Vietnam, not the issues that still divide them.

”My whole trip here is a demonstration I think of how far our relationship has come over 20 years, let alone since before that,” he said. The two countries re-established formal diplomatic ties in 1995.


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