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World View: India, China, U.S. React to China’s S. China Sea Military Expansion

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Worst violence in months in Burundi’s capital city Bujumbura
  • China increases South China Sea military buildup
  • India, Japan, U.S. react to China’s military expansion

Worst violence in months in Burundi’s capital city Bujumbura

Men carry away a dead body in Bujumbura on Saturday (VOA)
Men carry away a dead body in Bujumbura on Saturday (VOA)

Residents in several neighborhoods of Bujumbura, that capital city of Burundi, were horrified to leave their homes early Saturday morning and find dozens of corpses scattered in the streets. The military said that they had killed 79 “enemies” who had attack their army base, killing eight soldiers and policemen.

This is the worst violence in Bujumbura since two-term President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek an unconstitutional third term, and then won an election that many observers have said was rigged. Analysts say nearly 250 people have been killed since then, and that some 200,000 residents have fled to nearby countries to escape the violence.

As we wrote just three days ago ( “10-Dec-15 World View — Burundi’s Nkurunziza continues down Mugabe-Assad path of genocide”), Nkurunziza appears to be using an increasing amount of violence to stay in power illegally, and may be going down the same path as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, both of whom have used massive genocidal violence to stay in power. VOA and AP

China increases South China Sea military buildup

China appears on the path of building a massive military presence by means of the artificial islands it has created around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues to use belligerent military operations to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China’s claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing that they would lose.

China already has one airfield, and satellite photos show work on two or three additional airstrips. Having military airbases in this region would significantly change the balance of power in the region.

The airfields would allow Chinese aircraft to refuel, repair and if necessary, rearm without having to fly the more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to the nearest Chinese air base on Hainan island. On the other hand, they would also be highly vulnerable to bombing in an actual conflict.

Just as important, the airbases give China military control over the vast mineral deposits and fishing fields in the region. According to one analyst, “If we start to see satellite evidence of fuel storage going in on a large scale in the artificial islands, that will be the clearest indicator that China is planning to develop them as active air bases.” International Business Times and AP

India, Japan, U.S. react to China’s military expansion

China’s continuing rapid military expansion in the South China Sea is causing countervailing responses on the part of several countries.

The United States has been challenging China by sending surveillance planes and ships into the regions near the artificial islands. China has angrily warned that such incursions are illegal, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has repeatedly said that “The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”

On Monday of last week, Singapore and the U.S. issued a joint statement that a P8 Poseidon spy plane would be deployed in Singapore. The move is clearly aimed at China, and is likely to anger China.

In another development targeting China, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has visited India, and a joint statement with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said:

In view of critical importance of the sea lanes of communications in the South China Sea for regional energy security and trade and commerce which underpins continued peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, the two Prime Ministers noting the developments in the South China Sea called upon all States to avoid unilateral actions that could lead to tensions in the region.

Modi and Abe have issued joint statements before, but this is the first time that they have explicitly mentioned the South China Sea which, once again, is going to infuriate China.

In response to a similar statement in September, China issued this statement, which describes “The Five Persistences”:

China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and their adjacent waters as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant seabed and subsoil,” the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs had told HT in a written statement…

We have always adhered to the principle of ‘Five Persistence,’ which stands for

  • persistence in maintaining the peace and stability of South China Sea;
  • persistence in settling disputes with the party concerned according to the International laws via bilateral negotiation based on respect for historical facts;
  • persistence in relying on rule-based system to control disputes;
  • persistence in sustaining the freedom of flight and navigation in South China Sea;
  • persistence in practicing a win-win policy via cooperation.

It sounds good, and one might almost be tempted to believe some of it, if it were not for China’s aggressive military buildup and belligerent military actions in the South China Sea. China’s message has always been, as far as I can tell: We want to have harmonious relations with you. Just do exactly as we order you to do, and we will have harmonious relations. If you don’t, then we will kill you, and after that we will have harmonious relations that way. Reuters and Indian Express and Hindustan Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burundi, Bujumbura, Pierre Nkurunziza, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, China, South China Sea, Singapore, P8 Poseidon spy plane, Ash Carter, Japan, Shinzo Abe, India Narendra Modi
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