Quantcast

China's Warplanes Stalk Japan, Unite Neighbors

On Sunday, the Chinese air force flew more than 40 aircraft through Japan’s Miyako Strait into the Western Pacific Ocean.

The exercise, involving H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters, and tankers, is the largest of its kind for China through this airspace. Previous exercises involved fewer than 20 planes according to Li Jie, a military analyst based in Beijing.

China flew through the strait, an international passageway that separates the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, for the first time in May of last year.

China’s Ministry of National Defense, in a statement quoting air force spokesman Shen Jinke, said the planes Sunday flew “systematically” to conduct early warning, sudden assault, and refueling tasks. Shen noted the exercise was to protect China’s “sovereignty and security” and “maintain peaceful development.”

Making Humanitarian Aid Work in North Korea

North Korea is still reeling from what state media is calling the “worst disaster” since 1945.

Floods caused by Typhoon Lionrock at the end of last month have killed 138 at last count. Some 400 are missing, and 68,900 have been left homeless. The UN estimates 600,000 are in need of clean water and other essentials.

The wind and the rain have also split South Korean politicians and raised critical questions about humanitarian relief for horrific regimes.

On Monday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said, through spokesman Jeong Joon-hee, that Seoul would consider granting aid to the North only if it received a request from Pyongyang and that no such request had been received. Then he said that, even if North Korea asked for aid, it was unlikely the South Korean government would provide it. “God helps those who help themselves,” Jeong added.

US-India, China-Russia Exercises Reflect New Alliances

The US and Indian armies are presently conducting joint exercises in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand, about 100 kilometers from India’s border with China. This is the 12th edition of the Yudh Abhyas drill, and it has never been held in such close proximity to the People’s Republic.

Soldiers often train in regions where conflict is considered most likely to develop. With that in mind, Uttarakhand was not a bad choice. Last July, Chinese troops crossed the border into that state – a border that has been relatively free of such transgressions over the years. Indian defense planners have reason to be alert because the state, which has a 350-kilometer boundary with China, is not far from New Delhi.

India and Vietnam Unite Against China

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, in Hanoi Saturday to discuss their countries’ deepening relationship and sign various agreements. The word “China” rarely passed their lips in public, but that was the topic dominating the get-together. 

Beijing was able to scrub the formal agenda for the G20 of controversial geopolitical issues, like the South China Sea, but that did not mean regional leaders stopped talking about them privately. Modi, before proceeding to host city Hangzhou, stopped off in the Vietnamese capital to discuss the worsening situation in East Asia.

Is the Chinese Military Stirring Conflict in South Asia?

The killing of Burhan Wani, a young militant, on July 8 by security forces has triggered the worst crisis in Indian-controlled Kashmir in a generation. The continuing disturbances—they’ve been collectively called the “Second ‘Intifada”—not only threaten relations between New Delhi and Islamabad but also could draw Beijing into deeper involvement in South Asia.

Kashmir, in ways not evident at this moment, might affect ties between the world’s two most populous states.

China and India are not destined to be adversaries. Madhav Nalapat, the influential Indian thinker at Manipal University, believes they can develop an enduring relationship because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping look like they share that goal.

How Do We Deal With a Self-Isolating China?

“It’s on China not to be isolated,” said Admiral Harry Harris to David Feith of the Wall Street Journal in an interview published this month. “It’s on them to conduct themselves in ways that aren’t threatening, that aren’t bullying, that aren’t heavy-handed with smaller countries.”

The chief of US Pacific Command is correct, of course. His comment, the WSJ noted, “raises a basic question.” As the paper asks, “At what point is it prudent to conclude that China is committed to the path of bullying and revanchism?”

As early as the beginning of the decade, Beijing has engaged in a series of hostile acts that, with abbreviated time-outs, has continued to this day. Even if one argues that China’s commitment to provocative conduct occurred later or has yet to be made, the country is roiling its periphery at this moment, most notably in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Xi Jinping Purge of Military Brass Continues

Two former Chinese generals were taken into custody in recent weeks, according to a report that appeared in the South China Morning Post. The detentions look to be in connection with General Secretary Xi Jinping’s campaign to clean house in the Communist Party’s sprawling People’s Liberation Army.

According to “a source close to the military,” former Generals Li Jinai and Liao Xilong were escorted out of meeting of retired senior cadres in July by “PLA disciplinary officers.” The report states the two generals, who both retired in the first part of 2013, were detained for possible “violations of party discipline,” the ruling organization’s code for corruption.

China's Coming Population Crisis: Guns vs. Canes

“It completely baffles me why they are pushing for taking all those islands now,” a friend wrote to me late last month, referring to Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea.

China’s provocations are frequently attributed to President Xi Jinping’s nationalism, and another reason, almost always ignored, is the ascendance of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing policymaking circles. Howard French, former bureau chief of the New York Times in Shanghai, suggests another often overlooked factor fueling Beijing’s expansionist impulse—China’s accelerated demographic decline.

The End of World’s Rules-Based Order?

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, standing next to Perfecto Yasay, his Philippine counterpart, gave strong rhetorical support to the effort by Manila to negotiate with China over their sovereignty and other disputes.

Kerry’s words followed Monday’s statement issued by Australia, Japan, and the US calling for compliance with the July 12 award of the arbitral panel in The Hague on the South China Sea in Philippines vs. China. The ruling, now known in China as the “7.12 Incident,” essentially invalidated Beijing’s “nine-dash line” claim to approximately 85 percent of that vital body of water.

China Defiant in Wake of Int'l Ruling on South China Sea

On the 12th of this month, an arbitral panel in The Hague rendered its award in the landmark case of Philippines vs. China. The decision, interpreting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, was a sweeping rebuke of Beijing’s position, invalidating its expansive “nine-dash line” claim to about 85 percent of the South China Sea.

Many are hoping that China will bring its claims into line with UNCLOS, as the UN pact is known, and some even think it has actually begun the process of doing so. Unfortunately, a series of hostile reactions in the last few days, including an implied threat to use nuclear weapons to defend its outposts in that body of water, suggest Beijing’s reaction will not be benign.  

China maintains it has sovereignty to all the features—islands, rocks, and low-tide elevations—inside its now-famous dotted boundary. Five other states—Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—also claim those features, and China’s nine-dash line impinges on the exclusive economic zone of a sixth, Indonesia.

Asia Divisions Deepen after South Korean Missile Defense Deployment

On Friday, Seoul’s Defense Ministry and the US Defense Department announced their joint decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system in South Korea. The first battery will be placed to protect American forces on the peninsula against a North Korean missile attack.

China reacted within hours, lodging protests with both South Korea and the US. Then on Monday the Chinese foreign ministry continued its tantrum, threatening, in the words of spokesman Lu Kang, to impose “relevant measures” against South Korea.

South Korea’s deployment of THAAD, as the Lockheed Martin-built system is known, is a setback for Chinese attempts to move Seoul away from Washington and marks an end of President Park Geun-hye’s moves to entice China to abandon North Korea.

Expansionist China and Russia Deepen Ties

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin met on the 25th of last month in Beijing and issued statements bound to upset their neighbors and the US. For instance, the two leaders, who are both using force to expand and secure their borders, drew upon Orwellian logic when they charged that the nations defending themselves are the ones destabilizing the international system, undermining “strategic stability,” as they put it.

Yet Putin and Xi typically issue provocative statements intended to intimidate neighbors and threaten the international order when they meet. The more important story of the one-day get-together is that the two countries remain on course to become “friends forever”—Xi’s words—and they are cementing that friendship with trade.

China Steps Up Provocations

Chinese incursions along its southern and eastern peripheries this month suggest an increase in the pace of territorial provocations.

On June 15, one of China’s intelligence-gathering ships entered Japan’s territorial waters in the wee hours of the morning. The Dongdiao-class vessel sailed near Kuchinoerabu Island and the larger Yakushima Island as it shadowed two Indian warships participating in the Malabar exercise with the US and Japan. The intrusion was the first since 2004, when a Chinese submarine entered Japan’s waters, and only the second by China since the end of the Second World War. Japan filed a protest, but China countered that it was transiting in compliance with international freedom of navigation rules. China's ship lingered for some 90 minutes, possibly in violation of international transit norms.

China Likely Cheating, Again, on North Korea Sanctions

“We are both determined to fully enforce the UN Security Council Resolution 2270,” said Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, referring to China and the US. As hundreds of American and Chinese officials wrapped up this year’s installment of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in China’s capital, America’s top diplomat wanted the world to believe Beijing was complying with international sanctions on North Korea.

Resolution 2270 is the fifth set of coercive measures imposed by the Security Council on Pyongyang for its weapons programs.

So is Kerry telling us what is in fact the case or what he would like to be true? Unfortunately, it’s the latter. 

Beijing has been making the right noises about compliance. President Xi Jinping, for instance, pledged China would “completely and fully” enforce the UN’s coercive measures. 

US Pressures Kim Regime in North Korea

On Saturday, Pyongyang reacted to the Wednesday designation, by the US Treasury Department, of North Korea as a “primary money laundering concern” pursuant to Section 311 of the Patriot Act.

“North Korea is not frightened in the least by the US’s stereotypical method of labeling us as ‘money launders,’ not being content with already branding us as ‘nuclear proliferators,’ ‘human rights abusers,’ etc.,” said a spokesperson for the North Korean National Coordination Committee.

Pyongyang, despite the bravado of the statement, is undoubtedly concerned. The practical effect of the move is that banks and other financial institutions, both American and foreign, will not handle dollar transactions for Pyongyang’s entities and fronts. In all probability, these institutions will also shun dealings in other currencies for these customers.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Gordon G. Chang's blog