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This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • US-China tensions in South China Sea take another step upward
  • EU rescues 4300 migrants in one day as country quotas are enacted

US-China tensions in South China Sea take another step upward

Sun Jianguo from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy chats with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Singapore on Saturday (AFP)
Sun Jianguo from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy chats with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Singapore on Saturday (AFP)

Secretary of State Ashton Carter gave a speech on Saturday morning in Singapore at a regional security conference. Once again, he implied that the US will militarily challenge China’s plans in the South China sea:

So let me make clear the position of the United States:

First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features. We all know there is no military solution to the South China Sea disputes. Right now, at this critical juncture, is the time for renewed diplomacy, focused on a finding a lasting solution that protects the rights and the interests of all. As it is central to the regional security architecture, ASEAN must be a part of this effort: the United States encourages ASEAN and China to conclude a Code of Conduct this year. And America will support the right of claimants to pursue international legal arbitration and other peaceful means to resolve these disputes, just as we will oppose coercive tactics.

Second, the United States will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight – principles that have ensured security and prosperity in this region for decades. There should be no mistake: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world. America, alongside its allies and partners in the regional architecture, will not be deterred from exercising these rights – the rights of all nations. After all, turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.

Finally, with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both the international rules and norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture, and the regional consensus that favors diplomacy and opposes coercion. These actions are spurring nations to respond together in new ways.

Here is a summary of the main points that will infuriate the Chinese:

  • A demand to end land reclamation projects. China will certainly not comply.
  • America opposes the coercive tactics [of the Chinese].
  • “There should be no mistake: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world.” Other reports suggest that Carter has ordered even more aggressive surveillance around China’s man-made islands.
  • “Turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.”

There have been unconfirmed reports that the Chinese have installed mobile artillery weapons on one of China’s man-made islands. A Vietnam official said, “If it has actually happened it is a very bad sign for what is already a very complicated situation in the South China Sea.”

In response to Carter’s speech, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo said:

Over the past decades, the region has been peaceful and stable, just because of China’s great restraint. So I think China’s activities are … legitimate, reasonable and justified.

I have been puzzling over what this statement means. Zhao appears to be saying that the South China Sea has been China’s sovereign territory for the past decades, but China has been kind enough to let other nations use it, and the only reason that there has not been a war so far is “because of China’s great restraint.” Is he saying that this restraint is coming to an end?

In response my article last week, “26-May-15 World View — China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable”, one web site reader commented: “In 2008, well connected people I know in China said Xi Jinping ‘would not mind going to war with America.’ To-date actions have played out as explained to me.” I have read hundreds of articles about China’s president Xi Jinping over the last couple of years, and everything I have read is consistent with this comment.

When Xi took office in 2013, he gave a number of speeches about “China’s Dream,” in which he called for China to shed its past as a secondary player, and become the world’s top military and economic power. He visited Chinese military bases and told the troops to be ready for war at any time. He vowed that China will take every step necessary to gain control of the East China Sea and South China Sea regions, including areas that have been owned by other countries for centuries.

China has had a major policy change in the last few months. They used to deny that the land reclamation had any military purpose, but now they’re openly acknowledging that the islands are for military purposes.

China is in a massive state of denial, believing that they will win a war quickly, because the US will quickly back down. One possible first step is likely to be to shoot down an unmanned drone, or even a manned surveillance plane, saying that it is an unauthorized entry into China’s sovereign territory. They believe that Obama is so weak that he will not retaliate, and they are completely wrong about that.

It is hard for me to see how the status quo is going to continue much longer. In the worst case scenario, which is the one I expect and the one that Generational Dynamics predicts, the war will go on for several years and engulf the entire world. Dept. of Defense and Xinhua and Defense News and Reuters

EU rescues 4300 migrants in one day as country quotas are enacted

European Union vessels rescued 4300 migrants from waters off the coast of Libya on Friday and Saturday, packed into 9 boats and 13 large rubber dinghies. Seventeen dead bodies were found, people who had died from exhaustion, thirst or exposure.

More than 40,000 migrants and asylum seekers have reached Italy so far this year. An estimated 1,800, including women and children, lost their lives during the journey. Last year, Italy rescued some 170,000 migrants at sea.

The huge surge in arrivals follows a pattern. There were several days with no rescues, because stormy weather prevented boats from leaving Libya. But calm seas on Friday brought a flood of smuggler launches.

The EU government in Brussels enacted a controversial quota system this week. EU countries will accept around 60,000 refugees, and each country will be required to take in a number of refugees, based on a calculation that looked at each country’s size, GDP and unemployment rate. France has a quota of 7,000. Germany has a quota of 8,700. Sweden has a quota of 1,300. A financial incentive of 6,000 euros for each migrant has been offered to member states.

Britain has a constitutional right to opt out of the quota system, and has already confirmed it will do so. Ireland and Denmark are also expected not to take part. Irish Independent and Al Jazeera and The Local (France)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Sun Jianguo, China, Ashton Carter, South China Sea, People’s Liberation Army, PLA, Zhao Xiaozhuo, Xi Jinping, European Union, Libya, France, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Ireland, Denmark
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