World View: China Speeds Up Rapid Military Buildup in South China Sea

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Subi Reef, South China Sea (DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China speeds rapid military buildup in South China Sea
  • China promises ‘Peace in our time’ at ASEAN conference

China speeds rapid military buildup in South China Sea

ASEAN meeting in California on Tuesday (AFP)
ASEAN meeting in California on Tuesday (AFP)

China’s preparations for war appear to be speeding up, as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is rapidly militarizing the entire South China Sea, developing a network of military bases across the Paracel and Spratly islands.

New satellite pictures show that dredging operations are creating more and more artificial islands in the Paracels and Spratlys, and that the islands that have already been constructed are being armed to the teeth with such things as anti-submarine warfare helicopters, runways, and fuel bunkers. China’s new military buildup appears to be particularly targeting American submarines. With multiple military bases across the entire South China Sea, a helicopter fleet would be unconstrained by fuel range or limited numbers of ship-borne landing berths, creating a continuous and contiguous web of surveillance and response capability. Such a web would also have utility in surface ship and aerial combat strategies in the region.

New satellite imagery shows that, within the past week, China’s military has deployed advanced surface-to-air missile systems and radar systems on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea. This has substantially escalated the level of military tension in the South China Sea, as China prepares for war with its neighbors and with the United States.

The Diplomat and Fox News and Bloomberg

China promises ‘Peace in our time’ at ASEAN conference

The publication of photos showing China’s rapid and aggressive military buildup across the South China Sea comes just as the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was meeting at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California.

A major topic of discussion at the ASEAN summit was China’s South China Sea policy. China is following an extremely dangerous policy that almost always leads to a major war, with the most obvious historical example being Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia and Poland.

China is claiming an enormous region as its sovereign territory, and has been annexing regions historically belonging to Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries.

At the summit on Tuesday, President Obama gave the opening speech and said:

Here at this summit, we can advance our shared vision of a regional order where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means.

This was thought to be a message to China not to continue its military buildup in the South China Sea.

In addition, vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, warned China not to fly jet fighters from runways on its new man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, because that would be destabilizing to the whole region. Aucoin said, “We are unsure where they are taking us. So we are going to sail, fly, operate throughout these waters… Like we have been doing for so long,”

The Obama administration is claiming a bit of a moral victory, because the Chinese agreed to sign a joint statement at the end of the summit:

7. Shared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);

8. Shared commitment to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, ensuring maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce as described in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as well as non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities;

These statements are farcical because China has already said that it will ignore them, despite having committed to them. China has already rejected “legal and diplomatic processes” to settle disputes, and is obviously ignoring the pledges of “non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.”

They say that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes, and we see China repeating the mistakes of Adolf Hitler. After annexing Czechoslovakia, Hitler thought that the UK was too weak to challenge him.

Nazi Germany was then thoroughly humiliated in defeat in which its entire infrastructure was destroyed, split into four regions controlled by four different countries, not permitted to reunite for almost 50 years, and forced to apologize for its behavior for many decades after that.

Now China is doing pretty much the same thing, annexing other countries’ regions, with Obama as the modern day Neville Chamberlain, to whom China is promising “peace in our time.” It remains to be seen who will win the war this time. White House and Reuters and White House

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, South China Sea, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, Woody Island, Joseph Aucoin, Adolf Hitler, Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain
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