China Caucus Blog

Posted by Alex Gray | July 25, 2016

Imagery Shows Chinese HQ-9 Battery Being Removed From Woody Island. Sean O’Connor, Jane’s. “Satellite imagery captured on 10 July shows an HQ-9 strategic surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery on Woody Island in the process of being taken off the island on board a Chinese naval vessel. The Airbus Defence and Space image revealed that the battery had been removed from its deployment site along the northern coast of Woody Island in the Paracels, a move that coincided with the conclusion of military exercises in the area that took place prior to the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA's) 12 July ruling on the South China Sea dispute. Imagery taken on 8 July shows most of the dispersed HQ-9 battery components concealed under camouflage netting. Three transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles and the battery's Type 305A target acquisition radar (TAR) remained uncovered. Imagery captured a day later shows HQ-9 battery components uncovered and garrisoned together near the radar position. On 10 July, subsequent imagery showed a column of vehicles, including probably HQ-9 TELs, parked on a road adjacent to the island's southern harbour. A Type 072A landing ship berthed in the harbour represented a possible transhipment option for the equipment. The HQ-9 battery, present on the island since at least February 2016, is likely to be sent back to China for maintenance. At present, Woody Island lacks garrison facilities sufficient to house the HQ-9 battery. Continued construction on the island may result in a garrison and a prepared SAM site appearing in the near future. China has controlled all of the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, since the mid-1970s and the end of the Vietnam War.”\

China Scores Diplomatic Victory, Avoids Criticism From ASEAN. Japan Times. “Southeast Asian nations overcame days of deadlock Monday when the Philippines dropped a request for their joint statement to mention a landmark legal ruling on the South China Sea, officials said, after objections from Cambodia. Beijing publicly thanked Cambodia for supporting its stance on maritime disputes, a position that threw the regional block’s meeting in the Laos capital of Vientiane into disarray. Competing claims with China in the vital shipping lane are among the most contentious issues for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with its 10 members pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while finding common ground and fostering political and commercial ties with Beijing. China claims most of the sea, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have rival claims. In a ruling by the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration announced July 12, the Philippines won an emphatic legal victory over China on the dispute. The Philippines and Vietnam both wanted the ruling — which denied China’s sweeping claims in the strategic waterway that channels more than $5 trillion in global trade each year — and a call to respect international maritime law to feature in the communique. Calling for bilateral discussions, Cambodia opposed the wording on the ruling, diplomats said. Manila agreed to drop the reference to the ruling in the communique, one ASEAN diplomat said Monday, in an effort to prevent the disagreement leading to the group failing to issue a statement. The communique referred instead to the need to find peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which the court ruling referred. “We remain seriously concerned about recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region,” the ASEAN communique said. It was important to avoid militarization of the region, and for freedom of navigation to be maintained, ASEAN said. Beijing says the court ruling has no bearing on its rights in the sea, and described the case as a farce. Cambodia’s position was the right one and would safeguard unity of ASEAN and cooperation with China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon, according to a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website early Monday. “China greatly approves of Cambodia and other ASEAN countries taking charge of impartiality and safeguarding fairness,” Wang said. Such statements by the grouping have previously been issued, notably after an ASEAN-U.S. summit in California in February, and have led to criticism that ASEAN is becoming a toothless organization. “Certainly, Cambodia’s paralysis of ASEAN … hurts ASEAN’s unity, cohesion, relevance and reputation,” said Malcolm Cook, an analyst at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a Singapore think tank. “It makes ASEAN peripheral, not central, on this issue.” “For Laos and Cambodia, they clearly see relations with China as more important than their membership in ASEAN and are willing to damage ASEAN to aid their relations with China,” he said. China frequently blames the United States for raising tensions in the region and has warned regional rival Japan to steer clear of the dispute. “We will not permit any outside force to seek to exploit and hype up the so-called South China Sea arbitration case and bring chaos to this region,” Wang said. The United States, allied with the Philippines and cultivating closer relations with Vietnam, has called on China to respect the court’s ruling. It has criticized China’s building of artificial islands and facilities in the sea and has sailed warships close to the disputed territory to assert freedom of navigation rights. On Sunday, Wang reiterated his government’s position that it will only accept bilateral negotiations with the Philippines. “Every country has the same position as China, that is that we should fully and effectively implement the regional Code of Conduct, and in that COC it clearly states the dispute should be resolved by peaceful, sit-down talks between the parties directly concerned,” he said. In recent days, China’s military has staged live-firing exercises in the area and said it would begin regular aerial patrols over the sea. It also has asserted that it will not be deterred from continuing construction of its man-made islands. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Laos’ capital Monday. He is expected to discuss maritime issues in a meeting with Wang, as well as in meetings with ASEAN members. Both are in town for the ASEAN regional forum and East Asia summits, which bring ASEAN diplomats together with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and several other countries. Kerry will urge ASEAN nations to explore diplomatic ways to ease tension over Asia’s biggest potential military flash point, a senior U.S. official said ahead of his trip. Barack Obama is set to become the first U.S. president to visit Laos, attending an annual summit in September. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is also in Laos, making her debut at ASEAN meetings as Myanmar’s foreign minister.”

China Bans Internet News Reporting As Media Crackdown Widens. Bloomberg News. “China’s top internet regulator ordered major online companies including Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to stop original news reporting, the latest effort by the government to tighten its grip over the country’s web and information industries. The Cyberspace Administration of China imposed the ban on several major news portals, including Inc. and NetEase Inc., Chinese media reported in identically worded articles citing an unidentified official from the agency’s Beijing office. The companies have “seriously violated” internet regulations by carrying plenty of news content obtained through original reporting, causing “huge negative effects,” according to a reportthat appeared in The Paper on Sunday. The agency instructed the operators of mobile and online news services to dismantle “current-affairs news” operations on Friday, after earlier calling a halt to such activity at Tencent, according to people familiar with the situation. Like its peers, Asia’s largest internet company had developed a news operation and grown its team. Henceforth, they and other services can only carry reports provided by government-controlled print or online media, the people said, asking not to be identified because the issue is politically sensitive. The sweeping ban gives authorities near-absolute control over online news and political discourse, in keeping with a broader crackdown on information increasingly distributed over the web and mobile devices. President Xi Jinping has stressed that Chinese media must serve the interests of the ruling Communist Party. The party has long been sensitive to the potential for negative reporting to stir up unrest, the greatest threat to its decades-old hold on power. Regulations forbidding enterprise reporting have been in place for years without consistent enforcement, but the latest ordinance suggests “they really mean business,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies. Xi is cementing his power base and silencing dissenters ahead of a twice-a-decade reshuffle at next year’s party congress. Lam said that he "is really tightening up his crusade to silence opponents in the media." The regulator will slap financial penalties on sites found in violation of the regulations, the Paper cited the official as saying. A representative of Sohu declined to comment on the report. Tencent, Sina and NetEase didn’t respond to messages and phone calls seeking comment. The cyberspace administration has yet to respond to a faxed request for comment. The government is now considering ways to exert a more direct form of influence over the country’s online media institutions. In recent months, Chinese authorities have held discussions with internet providers on a pilot project intended to pave the way for the government to start taking board seats and stakes of at least 1 percent in those companies. In return, they would get a license to provide news on a daily basis. China’s online giants serve content, games and news to hundreds of millions of people across the country -- Tencent’s QQ and WeChat alone host more than a billion users, combined. Online news services however have always operated in a regulatory gray area. They’re not authorized to provide original content and technically aren’t allowed to hire reporters or editors. Still, outlets have recently published investigative stories on official corruption cases, and covered sensitive social issues from demonstrations to human rights. For instance, NetEase ran a feature in April after the party announced an investigation into a senior Hebei provincial official, Zhang Yue. The story was later removed from the internet. “Current-affairs news” is a broad term in China and encompasses all news and commentary related to politics, economics, military, foreign affairs and social issues, according to the draft version of China’s online information law. The amended draft of the regulation is currently seeking public feedback on the CAC’s official website. The change in the guidelines on original reporting also comes weeks after China replaced its chief internet regulator. Xu Lin, a former Shanghai propaganda chief who worked briefly with Xi during his half-year stint as Shanghai party boss in 2007, succeeded Lu Wei in June as head of the cyberspace administration. The regulator has since tightened its grip on online news reports, such as by warning news or social network websites against publishing news without proper verification. In another sign that the government is exerting influence over information, the publishers of a private purchasing managers index suspended that popular gauge without explanation.”

Discord Between China’s Top Two Leaders Spills Into the Open. Lingling Wei and Jeremy Page, The Wall Street Journal. “Earlier this month, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang both delivered forceful instructions on how to reform China’s state-owned sector. Their messages directly contradicted one another. On July 4, officials of the State Council, China’s cabinet, were read remarks by Mr. Xi calling for “stronger, better, bigger” state juggernauts, with a central role for the Communist Party in their management. Mr. Li’s prepared comments stressed the need to “slim down” state companies and to “follow market rules” in remaking them. Party insiders and China experts say the conflicting messaging and other recent episodes, including thinly veiled criticism of Mr. Li’s policies from the Xi camp, show how discord between the top two Chinese leaders is increasingly spilling into the open, a remarkable departure from the unified front China’s leaders traditionally seek to present. In the short term, the disunity is adding another layer of uncertainty over leaders’ promised restructuring of the Chinese economy, which has appeared stuck in recent months. Officials involved in overseeing the state sector have gathered in recent days to “study the spirit” of the conflicting July 4 instructions. Some remained confused. “There is a lack of clear direction from the top,” said an official at the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission who attended the study session. “Everybody is waiting to see what others might do,” he said. The result: “inaction.” Press officials at the commission didn’t respond to inquiries. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal on Friday, the State Council’s Information Office said “the speculative questions” raised by the Journal are “baseless.” It didn’t address the relationship between Messrs. Xi and Li but said China has adopted “consistent and steady” macroeconomic policies since late 2012 and has made “big progress” in economic and social development. It said China is determined to meet economic challenges under the leadership of the party and the State Council. The longer-term concern is any political impact of a split. Conflict within the leadership has been a feature of modern China’s most tumultuous periods, from the Cultural Revolution to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The party’s legitimacy rests in large part on being able to project an image of uniform and levelheaded decision-making at the top. Mr. Xi, like China’s last two top leaders, is president, party chief and head of the military. The premier heads the cabinet and for most of the last four decades has managed the economy, with other duties divided among other senior party figures. Mr. Xi has reversed that collective leadership model and centralized decision-making within a number of small committees he heads, including over the economy. His supporters say the party leadership had become weak and corrupt in the previous administration and now needs a strong central figure to maintain public support while overhauling the economy. Detractors say Mr. Xi has taken on too much to govern effectively, while stripping authority away from Mr. Li and other more qualified economic stewards. Mr. Li has acquiesced to that treatment for the last two to three years, but in recent months, supporters say, he has been actively undermined.  Rumors now abound within the party about whether he will be replaced as premier in next year’s reshuffling of key party posts. Messrs. Xi and Li are the only two members of the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee—the top leadership body—not due to retire. The two men have very different backgrounds and public personas. Mr. Xi, 63 years old, whose father was a revolutionary hero, has close personal ties to other descendants of the party elite and has cast himself as a paternalistic, if aloof, authoritarian. The bookish and affable Mr. Li, 61, came to prominence as a star student of law and economics. He rose through the ranks of the Communist Youth League, becoming a favorite of the previous party chief, Hu Jintao. The first episode of the discord came in May, when the official People’s Daily published a lengthy front-page interview with an unidentified “authoritative person,” which criticized the heavy role of credit in driving first-quarter growth. Mr. Xi’s top economic advisers drafted the article under his instruction, according to people familiar with the matter, who said Mr. Xi was upset that China unleashed 4.6 trillion yuan ($697 billion) in bank credit from January through March, even exceeding stimulus in 2009 during the depth of the financial crisis. Mr. Xi was worried that his plan to pare debt and industrial overcapacity was “on the line,” one of the people said. While the article didn’t mention Mr. Li by name, the people said it was meant as a public rebuke of the premier’s stimulus policies. In addition, the article poured cold water on a debt-for-equity swap program publicly touted by Mr. Li in March, saying such a program shouldn’t be used to keep alive “zombie” firms—money-losing companies in industries with excessive capacity. People sympathizing with the premier say he was simply trying to meet the growth target set by the leadership, and to ensure sufficiently high growth for economic reforms to succeed. Mr. Xi has advocated overhauls while also insisting growth stays on target, and he has backpedaled on his 2012 pledge to embrace market forces. His decrees on the state sector in the past year, for example, have centered on strengthening the party’s control. “Li Keqiang has been placed in an impossible position,” wrote Barry Naughton, an expert on China’s economy at the University of California, San Diego, in a paper published this week. ”Economic policy has moved in a fundamental way into Xi Jinping’s shop, and out of Li Keqiang’s shop. Li cannot be happy with this, and it is hard to see how the Xi-Li relationship can be maintained under these conditions.” A big risk from the policy uncertainty, said Arthur Kroeber, co-founder of China-focused research firm GaveKal Dragonomics, is that needed changes, such as the closing of money-losing factories, stall. “It’s increasingly clear to me that China’s economic program is not very coherent,” he said. The report last week of second-quarter growth of 6.7%— the same pace as in the first quarter, despite multiple headwinds—was seen as a sign that leaders continue to use an old stimulus playbook of credit expansion and state spending rather than tackling inefficiencies. Some state-company executives are confused. “Can we be a big state employer and at the same time profitable?” asked a senior official at a state-backed shipping company in Shanghai. “It would be very hard to do in reality.” It isn’t clear to what extent the tension reflects deeper differences in outlook of the kind that caused previous leadership clashes. “Xi and Li may disagree over specific policies, but their differences are minor in the grand scheme of things and the result of political jockeying, not principle,” said Scott Kennedy, a deputy director at Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank. China’s social-media users are cautious in discussing the divide, using coded references to a split between the southern and northern parts of the party and government’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound, where Messrs. Xi and Li work, respectively. In what people familiar with the matter depict as a subtle response by Mr. Li to criticism in the People’s Daily article, four words were added to a state-media news report about a May 9 conference call led by the premier. The words, which these people say weren’t part of the call, were xiang ren wei guo, an idiom loosely translated as “the premier endures for the nation.” They say Mr. Li personally vetted the media report before it went out. This month, Mr. Xi held a meeting with more than two dozen of the country’s top economists and analysts. Mr. Li wasn’t invited, according to people with knowledge of the matter. “It’s a meeting held by Xi Dada,” one of the people said, using a popular nickname for Mr. Xi. “It’s not necessary for Li to attend.” Two days later, Mr. Li held his own round-table discussion with a separate group of economists, according to state media reports. Despite growing challenges this year, he said, China’s economy has performed “steadily and within expectation.”

China Says South Korea's THAAD Anti-Missile Decision Harms Foundation Of Trust. Jack Kim, Reuters. “Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has criticized South Korea's move to deploy an advanced U.S. anti-missile defense system to counter threats from North Korea, saying it harmed the foundation of their mutual trust, news reports said on Monday. The announcement by South Korea and the United States this month that they would deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) unit has already drawn protests from Beijing that it would destabilize regional security. The decision to deploy THAAD is the latest move to squeeze the increasingly isolated North Korea, but China worries the system's radar will be able to track its military capabilities. Russia also opposes the deployment. "The recent move by the South Korean side has harmed the foundation of mutual trust between the two countries," Wang was quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency and KBS television as telling South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. Wang and Yun met late on Sunday on the sidelines of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference of foreign ministers in Vientiane. Yun told Wang that the move was aimed at protecting South Korea's security and that it would not damage China's security interests, Yonhap said. At a separate meeting in Beijing, Fan Changlong, one of the vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission that controls China's military, told U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice that the THAAD deployment would only worsen tensions on the Korean peninsula. "The United States must stop this kind of mistaken action," China's Defence Ministry paraphrased Fan as saying. South Korea and the United States have said THAAD would only be used in defense against North Korean ballistic missiles. North Korea has launched a series of missiles in recent months, the latest last week when it fired three ballistic missiles that it said was a simulated test of preemptive strikes against South Korean ports and airfields used by the U.S. military. The missiles flew 500-600 km (300-360 miles) into the sea off its east coast and could have hit anywhere in South Korea if the North intended, the South's military said. North Korea came under the latest round of United Nations Security Council sanctions in March after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket the following month.”

South China Sea Air Strips’ Main Role Is ‘To Defend Hainan Nuclear Submarine Base.’ Minnie Chan, South China Morning Post. “China’s underwater military strategy in the South China Sea, which remained concealed for the past two decades, suddenly emerged after an international tribunal rejected most of Beijing’s territorial claims in the hotly contested waters. On July 12 – the same day the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague announced that China’s claims over the resource-rich and strategically vital South China Sea region had no legal basis – a photograph of China’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarine was “leaked” and published on many mainland military websites. The photograph, revealing the expanded type 094A “Jin-class” submarine, led to speculation that the vessel might be capable of delivering China’s new generation, intercontinental-range ballistic missile, the JL-3, whose estimated range of 12,000km would enabling it to reach the United States from the South China Sea. “I believe the type 094A, which has been closely monitored by the U.S., was deliberately ‘leaked’ to warn the U.S.,” Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong told the South China Morning Post. On Monday Admiral Wu Shengli, of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, told visiting U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson in Beijing that China would not compromise its sovereignty and would press ahead with construction of facilities in the South China Sea. Wu also warned that “the Chinese navy is fully prepared to cope with military provocation.” As Beijing’s state media repeatedly attacked the ruling of the tribunal – which Beijing has refused to recognise – President Xi Jinping said that China’s “territorial sovereignty and marine rights” in the seas would not be affected. The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest trade routes, through which more than U.S. $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. However, Beijing has another – arguably more important – reason for prizing the 3.5 million square km area of waterway. It regards the waterway as crucial for providing its expanded submarine fleet, stationed the Yulin naval base in Hainan, with unrestricted access to the waters of Pacific Ocean. The East China Sea has only a few, narrow underwater channels, which means its submarines can easily be monitored. But the South China Sea features underground submarine facilities with a tunnel access, shielding Chinese submarines that enter the South China Sea from the prying eyes of U.S. reconnaissance satellites. “No matter what the international arbitration rulings said, China will keep pushing ahead with its maritime ambitions in the South China Sea because it regards it as a ‘fortress’ that will enable its military expansion,” Beijing-based military commentator Song Zhongping told the Sunday Post. “The South China Sea provides the only route for China to establish itself as a real maritime power. The area has several underwater channels and straits, which will allow China’s submarine fleet to break through the United States’ first and second island-chain blockades, which have been attempting to keep China’s maritime forces contained in the Asian continent. “That’s why Beijing carefully chose [to centre] its naval and submarine headquarters in Hainan province many years ago.” China declared a U-shaped nine-dash line, which includes 80 per cent of the area of the South China Sea, in 1953, with James Shoal, located about 80km off the coast Malaysia’s Sarawak state, at the bottom. Before 2000, Beijing built Asia’s biggest nuclear-powered submarines base in Yulin, Hainan’s southernmost port. In June, the British-based IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that state-owned China State Shipbuilding had proposed constructing a sonar surveillance system, nicknamed the “underwater great wall” project, featuring a network of ship and submarine surface sensors that could significantly erode the undersea warfare advantage of U.S. submarines to help Beijing control the South China Sea. Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said China’s underwater network and facilities on Woody Island and other artificial islands were aimed at enhancing Chinese navy’s control of the South China Sea. “If China can use its military installations in the South China Sea to defend its submarines from air, sea, underwater, and outer space threats – a very big if – it may succeed in turning [the waterway] into a bastion for its nuclear-armed submarines,” he said. Even mainland naval experts have acknowledged that the airstrips and other defence facilities on the artificial islands in the Spratly Islands are part of efforts to expand Yulin naval base’s power over the South China Sea , which includes the 2,000m-deep Bashi Channel. However, the waterway also serves as an important thoroughfare for U.S. naval vessels from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean region, said Alexander Neill, a Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia-Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia. “U.S. aircraft carriers regularly transit the South China Sea on their way to operations in the Middle East,” he said. “So to challenge freedom of navigation of U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines that protect them interferes with some key national security concerns for the U.S. as well as active operations. “Chinese submarine deployments in the Spratly Islands would defeat the purpose of stealth, and expose them to further detection by the U.S.. Given that China is placing some of its strategic nuclear deterrent on submarines, this is a risky proposition ... Submarine deployments in the Spratlys could also be used as part of China’s ‘self-defence’ requirement in response to U.S. naval freedom of navigation operations.” Last October, the Pentagon sent the destroyer USS Lassen to within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of Chinese artificial islands in the Spratlys, on a so-called “freedom of navigation” operation. Washington and Beijing accused each other of escalating tensions and militarising the disputed waters, which are claimed wholly or in part by mainland China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. “China’s long-term goal is to build a real ‘blue’ water navy with global reach,” Song said. “It is starting to expand its influence further from the region. He said the submarine base, and other construction projects in the Spratly Islands, were parts of its bigger overall strategy to fully control security in the region “through traditional and non-traditional military means.” U.S. defence officials said China had deployed two ­J-11 fighter jets and bolstered its advanced surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island, known as Yongxing in Chinese, while four of eight shipped based HQ-9 short range missile launchers deployed to the area were ­operational. Woody Island is the largest island in the Paracel chain of islands in the South China Sea and is the adminstrative centre of Sansha provincial-level city created in 2012 and includes much of the South China Sea claimed by China. Beijing installed a runway on the island in the early 1990s, which lies about 330km southeast of the Yulin submarine base. The U.S. Navy operated 75 nuclear-powered submarines in 2014, including 15 of the more modern Virginia or Seawolf-class designs, according to the World Nuclear Association. However, it deploys only four Los Angeles-class submarines in the Asia-Pacific region, which are stationed at the U.S. naval base on Guam. The PLA Navy now has about 70 submarines, 16 of them are nuclear-powered, which were based mostly in Yulin, according to the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress. “The South China Sea is the fortress protecting China’s access to the India Ocean route, which is also Beijing’s oil lifeline, with Woody Island serving as the bridgehead of Xi’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ development initiative,” Wong said. “That’s why so many advanced weapons have been deployed there.”

US Shipments Of Vehicles Delayed. Luo Tien-pin and William Hetherington, Taipei Times. “Deliveries of US amphibious assault vehicles have been delayed, with the US military supplier citing technical difficulties. In a bid to improve the nation’s amphibious assault capabilities, 36 AAV-7A1s were purchased from the US, with the first shipment to arrive in the second half of this year and the remainder to be received by the end of 2019. Sources said that even though payment for the first shipment has been sent, the vehicles are to be delayed until 2020. One source said the military has been in contact with the US in an attempt to resolve the situation, expressing concern that LVTP-5 amphibious vehicles in service have exceeded their useful life and that continued use would compromise Taiwan’s amphibious assault capabilities, but the US has remained resolute in its position. The US cited technical difficulties for the delay, saying that it is waiting on other orders. Military officials said they had settled the issue with the US in 2013, adding that the delay might be because of a political issue. “The AAV-7A1 plays a pivotal role in modern amphibious warfare. Whether in defense of the perimeter of the Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島] or Itu Aba Island [Taiping Island, 太平島], in a mission to safeguard Taiwan’s southern coast or the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, or even in conducting rescue missions following major natural disasters, the AAV-7A1 plays a crucial role,” the source said. “Delaying shipment of the 36 vehicles will be a major blow to the military’s ability to maintain combat readiness,” the source said. Navy Command Headquarters yesterday said that “because the US has to conform to a production schedule that allows it to complete several orders simultaneously, shipments will be postponed.” The navy said that the shipment would be accomplished in two installments, with 24 units arriving in 2020 and the remainder in 2021, adding that it would make amendments to its investment network because of the delay. The navy has used the LVTP-5 in amphibious landing exercises, but as the vehicles are beyond their service lifespan, finding replacement parts has become increasingly difficult. In 2006, the navy commissioned the US to produce 54 AAV-7A1s to replace its outdated fleet. A military official said that although it has already procured 54 AAV-7A1s, that is far from its target, which is to procure 36 more. The navy plans to use four of the AAV-7A1s as command vehicles, while two are to be assigned for use in disaster relief operations. The official said the 36 vehicles cost NT$5.3 billion (US$165.26 million), with the purchase contract signed by both sides on May 12 and funds transferred on June 24. “It was completely unexpected that the US would suddenly announce a three-and-a-half-year delay. The sudden, unexpected nature of the decision was a great shock to the military — we are unable to accept this turn of events,” the official said.”

India Expels 3 Chinese Journos For Un-Journalistic Activities. Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times. “India has expelled three journalists of the Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, by refusing to renew their visas to work in the country, a move that could worsen the already strained relations between the two countries. The three journalists have been ordered to leave India by July 31. Journalists Wu Qiang and Lu Tang head Xinhua’s bureau in New Delhi and Mumbai respectively. The third, She Yonggang, is a reporter based in Mumbai. Lu Tang has an India connect as she studied in universities at New Delhi and Gujarat. She graduated in International Relations from New Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru University. No official reason was given for the Indian government’s decision, but sources said the three had come under the “adverse attention of security agencies” for allegedly indulging in activities beyond their journalistic brief. The sources, however, said the action did not imply that Xinhua journalists are not welcome in India. “The agency can replace them with others. There is nothing here to construe that Xinhua has to wind up its news operations in India,” a source said. HT reached out to Xinhua in Beijing but an official said nobody could be immediately contacted for a comment. Commenting on the expulsion, Mohan Guruswamy, chairman of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, said that not extending visas of journalists is a needless aggravation. He posted his comments on Facebook. “Lu Tang, whom many of you FB users might recognise and who has done so much to provide China’s opinion makers with a better understanding of India is among the three Chinese journalists not to get their work visas extended,” he wrote on the Chinese correspondent’s Facebook wall. “We can now expect some tit for tat for no rhyme or reason. If Indian scribes are turned out of China we too will lose our eyes and ears in that country. Not extending visas of journalists is a needless aggravation. I am sure the [Ministry of External Affairs] would be clueless about this as this is now under the exclusive purview of the largely clueless Ministry of Home Affairs.” Ranjit Kalha, a former secretary in the MEA said that the move seems to have been “done without thinking through [the] outcome,” reported The decision comes at a time when relations between New Delhi and Beijing have been under strain following China’s refusal last month to back India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Beijing has been wary of New Delhi’s growing bonhomie with Washington. Non-renewal of visas is a common practice followed by governments to expel foreign journalists whose writing is seen as critical of official policy. In December, China expelled a French journalist for writing a piece questioning the government’s handling of the situation in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), describing the reporting as fabricated. The mode of expulsion was similar: The journalist’s visa wasn’t renewed. Wu has been working in India for seven years while the other two were posted in Mumbai last year. Xinhua works directly under the jurisdiction of the State Council, or the Chinese Cabinet, headed by Premier Li Keqiang. The two countries have a history of delaying granting of journalist visas, but this is possibly the first time that an extension or renewal of visas has been denied. The journalists’ visas had expired earlier this year but they were asked to wait. However, their passports were returned to them without the visa, effectively ensuring that they could not move out of the cities of residence. On July 14, all three were informed that they had to leave India by July 31 as their visas will not be renewed. Analysts said the possibility of China carrying out tit-for-tat expulsions of Indian-journalists could not be ruled out. Five Indian journalists work out of Beijing at present. Additionally, a number of Indians work for China’s English state media like China Central Television, China Daily and China Radio International. Two more New Delhi-based Indian journalists are currently on a fellowship to China at the invitation of the communist government.”

Gov. Deloso Claims Chinese Military Presence In Zambales. Franco G. Regala, Manila Bulletin. “As tension over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) continues following The Hague ruling, Gov. Amor Deloso of Zambales cautioned yesterday that there allegedly is Chinese military presence in his province. Deloso told the Manila Bulleting that the Chinese military has allegedly occupied a mountain area in Sta. Cruz municipality, where their missile is supposedly stationed. He said this 500-hectare area was allegedly sold to the Chinese by former Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. “Pinagbili nila (Gov. Ebdane) sa Chinese and tatlong bundok at nakabuo sila ng 500 na hectare of island at dyan ngayon na-station ang missile ng China kaya binabantayan ng American warship yan lalo na’t naging pabor sa atin ang ruling ng arbitration court (They sold it to the Chinese – three mountains that compose a 500 hectare island area where they have stationed their missile; that’s why an American warship has been keeping an eye on it since the ruling favorable to the Philippines by the arbitration court),” Deloso said. Previous reports say that three Chinese conglomerates namely, Jiangxi Rare Earth & Metals Tungsten Group, Wei-Wei Group, and Nihao Mineral Resources Inc. also operate in the same municipality, and have put up five “minahang bayan (small-scale mines)” through Filipino dummies. The governor noted that Beijing has already established itself not only in Panatag/Scarborough Shoal (formerly Bajo de Masinloc) but also in the mountains and the mainland. The disputed island is 85 kilometers from Sta. Cruz municipality but only 65 km more or less from Masinloc. He added: “Pumosisyon ang China sa (Bajo de) Masinloc kasi unang unang may oil sa ilalim. Malaki ang source ng oil diyan. (The Chinese occupied Scarborough Shoal because there’s oil underneath. There’s a big source of oil there),” he said.”

As Mugabe Fights For His Political Future, Why Is China So Silent? Simon Allison, ISS. “As Zimbabwe teeters on the brink of economic and political crisis, there’s one voice that has been conspicuously silent: China. Despite the mutual professions of admiration and everlasting friendship, it seems that President Robert Mugabe has been abandoned by his Chinese counterpart in his hour of need. It wasn’t meant to be this way. At last year’s China-Africa forum in South Africa, Mugabe described Xi Jinping in glowing terms: ‘Here is a man representing a country once called poor, a country which was never our coloniser. He is doing to us what we expected those who colonised us yesterday to do… We will say he is a God-sent person.’ Mugabe has good cause to be grateful to Xi, and to China, which has been a staunch ally over the years. Infamously, in 2004, ignoring the spate of political violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at the time, China’s Deputy Commerce Minister Fu Ziying observed: ‘It’s apparent that his Excellency has been very good.’ This quote is rather typical of the kind of whole-hearted support that China has offered the Zimbabwean president over the years. Not only has China turned a blind eye to Zimbabwe’s assorted governance issues, but it has also been an important economic partner. As well as being the biggest importer of tobacco, Zimbabwe’s largest cash crop, recently China forgave some US$40 million in debt. Even more significantly, last year the Asian superpower promised to plough some US$4 billion into the stagnant Zimbabwean economy through a series of ‘megadeals’ in energy and infrastructure. But maybe these ties were never as impressive as they looked on paper. Take the debt forgiveness: while a nice gesture, it is meaningless in comparison to the US$1.8 billion that Zimbabwe owes the IMF in arrears (against total international debts topping US$9 billion). And while those megadeals may sound impressive, they have so far failed to get off the ground, for the most part – even though Zimbabwe’s stuttering economy could use an injection of cash right about now. Zimbabwe is facing a potentially crippling liquidity crisis, with banks restricting cash withdrawals and government imposing ever-tighter restrictions on foreign exchange. The country’s economic woes are driving increased political instability. #ThisFlag, a citizen-led campaign for government reform, is gaining unprecedented traction, while calls for Mugabe to resign or be removed from office are getting louder and louder, especially in urban communities. Sources within his ruling party, the Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) suggest that the 92-year-old leader has also lost support of key players within the party. What Mugabe needs right now, more than anything, is a bit of help from his friends – preferably in the form of a timely cash injection. But none has been forthcoming from China. This comes as no surprise to long-time China-Africa observers. ‘One should make a distinction between rhetorical and financial support in the China-Africa relationship. Just because China rolls out the red carpet and reiterates a friendship between the countries doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing to lend support in other ways,’ explained Cobus van Staden, a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand and co-host of the influential China in Africa podcast. This is especially true when it may not be in China’s financial interest to do so, according to Ross Antony, Interim Director of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Chinese Studies. ‘China seems to be getting donor fatigue when it comes to Zimbabwe. Although Xi Jinping had a state visit last year… investing in Zimbabwe has become an increasingly risky enterprise for Chinese firms. ‘Although originally exempt from Zimbabwe's indigenisation laws, Chinese diamond mining firms, for instance, have come under increasing pressure to relinquish a 51% stake to local actors. Additionally, Mugabe's continued hold on power, and the political uncertainty it is causing, has implications for Chinese investors banking on long-term stability of their interests,’ said Antony. Antony also emphasises that China’s support for Zimbabwe should not be confused with support for Mugabe himself. ‘From a financial point of view, it may make sense to simply hold back and let internal political changes take their course,’ he said. And this appears to be exactly what China is doing. China has more than just money at stake in Zimbabwe, however. ‘China’s extensive investments in Zimbabwe’s crisis-ridden economy and rhetorical support for Mugabe’s isolated regime are crucial to its broader strategy for expanded influence in Africa. If China can engineer a marked improvement in political and economic conditions in Zimbabwe, it will be able to profit economically from a country that Western powers have very limited leverage over and set a precedent for other sub-Saharan African countries to pivot towards China,’ explained Samuel Rabani in The Diplomat. In this context, China’s current lack of support for Mugabe might suggest that he is now viewed as actively detrimental to China’s interests in Zimbabwe. China’s controversial policy of ‘non-intervention’ in the internal affairs of African states has made them a favourite ally for autocrats and dictators across the continent (although, increasingly, this policy is coming under pressure, most notably in South Sudan where China contributes peacekeeping troops and is mediating tensions). But as Mugabe is finding out, non-intervention is a double-edged sword: just as China won’t intervene against him, it won’t intervene for him either. This should serve as a warning too for other African leaders who have grown accustomed to taking Chinese support for granted.”

Posted by Alex Gray | July 21, 2016

What’s Next For Manila Following South China Sea Ruling? Armando J. Heredia, USNI News. “The long-awaited tribunal ruling on China’s territory grab of the Western Philippine Sea finally emerged on July 12. As expected it was a mostly clean sweep for the Philippines government – judging that the claims under the PRC’s Nine-Dash Line vision were invalid, and its current activities of island reclaiming and resource grabbing were both illegal and harmful to the environment. However, the hard part has just begun. For the two years that the case slowly made its way through the court, China repeatedly stated that the court had no jurisdiction, and in no way would Beijing recognize the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision. So where does that leave Manila now? It’s been a storm of uncertainty for the embattled Philippines. The tribunal’s decision came right on the heels of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential inauguration. The new leader is arguably a wild card for the how the United States and other claimants will handle the regional disputes. Duterte is a study in contrasts compared with his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. The Aquino administration was marked in large part by a return to closer ties with the U.S., as the Philippines reeled under the pressure of China’s intrusive expansion in the region’s maritime space. Aquino recognized the weak state of the Philippine military, and chose to accelerate the modernization process while taking the fight to China. Simultaneously his administration opened the way for American forces to return to the Philippines through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). As the hard-charging, tough-talking mayor of Davao City, Duterte rode to power on a plurality vote. Known for his brusque, no-nonsense – at times crude – personality, Rodrigo Duterte views the United States with a certain level of hostility. He has at times considered the Philippines as simply a pawn between great powers, in a game that he would rather see the nation exit cleanly and quickly. While he has carved a reputation as an effective small-government leader, Duterte has little experience in dealing with foreign policy at a national level. His choice of Perfecto Yasay as foreign affairs secretary, a noted businessman with no foreign service qualifications and a controversial former chairman of the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission, has already resulted in policy statement bungles that may have weakened the Philippines’ position following the tribunal’s decision. While it’s unclear who solicited whom, Duterte was briefed on the complexity of the decision by three prominent members of the Philippines legal team that presented the case – including Supreme Court Judge Antonio Carpio, arguably the foremost knowledgeable expert on the case. It is unknown what, if any, recommendations emerged from either of those sessions. But the muted response from Malacanang Palace immediately following the tribunal decision is likely a reflection of several factors. First, the Philippines remain weak in terms of kinetic responses to China’s incursions. While the Aquino administration consistently refused to “rock the boat” and make provocative moves that it felt might negatively influence the PCA’s decision process, both presidents are held hostage by the poor material and qualitative state of the Philippines military. Despite a modernization effort that outspent several previous administrations put together, the acquisitions made under Aquino barely put a dent in the so-called “death spiral” effect of the Philippines armed forces that started just after the evacuation of U.S. forces in the wake of Mount Pinatubo’s eruption. Any confrontational action by the Philippines would have to leverage the country’s poorly equipped Coast Guard to mitigate clashes leading to general war with China. The branch lacks sufficient hulls to establish presence operations, and the boost of Japanese-made patrol boats comes too little, too late to make a difference. The loss of Scarborough Shoal, which indirectly led to the filing in the court, is once again a flashpoint. Located in what the PCA has determined to be the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Chinese Maritime Agency continues to deny Filipino fishermen access to the grounds. Judging by the recommendations of local government units for those affected to find other means of living, it’s clear that a there is little appetite or capability to impose a kinetic solution. While Foreign Secretary Yasay’s latest negotiations reflect a more assertive approach that leverages the PCA decision, Duterte is quite simply in a bind. China is one of the Philippines’ largest trading partners, and the prolonged conflict over territorial sovereignty has affected economic ties – everything from bananas and mangos to tourism. The newly installed president has even openly mulled the idea to trade concessions on the Spratlys in return for a Chinese-made transportation system. Only a strong Cabinet and trusted subject-matter counsel can guide Duterte at this point through these unfamiliar waters. Duterte’s campaign promises to resolve a perceived national drug problem and bring peace to a war-torn insurgent-laden Southern Philippines is also competing with foreign policy objectives for resources. The controversy around extra-judicial killings and rampant corruption aside, the armed forces of the Philippines will have to use its meager resources to supplement, and in many cases, perform basic law enforcement actions that the even more destitute Philippine National Police cannot execute. By populating his Cabinet with prominent leftist and insurgency-aligned political figures, Duterte is calculating that he can co-opt most of the remaining rebel movements in the troubled southern end of the nation. However, he has also directed incoming Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana to realign the armed forces modernization back to counterinsurgency operations as needed in order to strike what is hoped would be a fatal blow to hard-line terror groups such as Abu Sayaaf. Given the challenges that already plague the military’s upgrade efforts, this immensely sets back a credible external defense and further limits kinetic options to enforce the PCA ruling. While on the campaign trail, Duterte indicated he would consider letting the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (EDCA) with the United States stay in place, acknowledging that the U.S. presence mitigated the Philippine’s weak defense status. Given that cold marriage of convenience however, it’s entirely possible that a diplomatic solution with China over the Spratlys might require the Philippines to severely curtail or even sever the burgeoning U.S. military presence. After all, EDCA was established via executive order, and could easily be reversed using the same power. Such a move would be a blow to the U.S. pivot to Asia, as well as a reputational win for China. If America’s most erstwhile figurehead ally in the maritime dispute could turn to Beijing, it would seriously undermine the confidence of other regional claimants in putting stock with Washington. Despite the cheers heard around the globe following the court decision, no other nations have really stepped forward to change the equation with regard to accessing the Spratlys or mitigating the Chinese presence. For all intents and purposes, the Philippines continues to stand alone despite its legal victory. The courses of actions are scant if any, and freedom to maneuver severely curtailed.”

South China Sea: Beijing Calls KFC, Apple Protests 'Irrational.' Shen Lu and Ben Westcott, CNN. “Nationalist sentiment has swept China in the wake of last week's international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea, with protests targeting KFC, Apple and Filipino fruit. But the Chinese government has had enough, telling protestors through the the state-run People's Daily newspaper Wednesday that they are being "irrational and disruptive." On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines, saying there was no legal basis for China's claim to a large part of the South China Sea. China strongly rejected the decision. In the week after the ruling, videos and pictures of nationalists boycotting U.S. food chains -- the ultimate U.S. symbol in their eyes -- have been posted on social media in several Chinese cities. Chinese news portal reported that residents from an estimated 11 Chinese cities launched a boycott movement against KFC on Monday. In Changsha in Hunan province, residents held up a banner outside a KFC restaurant that reads: "Get out of China, KFC and McDonald's." On Tuesday, police in central China's Henan province detained three people outside a KFC outlet over organizing a disruptive boycott. Meanwhile, a campaign of smashing iPhones has taken off on social media, in protest against U.S. tech giant Apple. Since the South China Sea ruling was handed down, a musical video compiling Chinese citizens rapping "South Sea arbitration, who cares?" has gained nearly 4.9 million views on social media platform Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter. At one point the video, which was backed by the Chinese Communist Party Youth League, shows two young women in camouflage clothing repeat the lyrics while showing off daggers. Anti-Philippines sentiment can even be felt on China's largest online shopping web site Taobao, with sellers offering locally grown dried mango instead of fruit grown in the Philippines. "We only sell domestic dried mangoes! .... Safeguard the South China Sea," one seller wrote. In recent days the government has begun to indicate protests should cease, similar to when when mass rallies across China following a similar territorial dispute with Japan in 2012 were strongly discouraged by the Chinese government. State media has begun to criticize the protests as "irrational," saying they could harm China's reputation. "Any action that promotes national development can rightfully be called patriotic. But so-called patriotism that willfully sacrifices public order will only bring damage to the nation and society," a People's Daily editorial said Wednesday. "Pragmatic and effective patriotism only counts If we can all rationalize our actions, converting patriotic concept into action, contributing to the national development by fulfilling our own duties," state news agency Xinhua commented. Analysts say the ruling has sparked an outburst of nationalism among Chinese. "It will further escalate nationalist sentiment in a big nation like China, which is might is right," Wang Jiangyu, law professor with the National University of Singapore, said. "In fact, it has immediately forced many of China's moderates to become hawks." But not all Chinese social media users are in favor of this type of behavior. "I am Chinese; I think the boycotters are idiots and I am boycotting them," Weibo user @Age_AVR commented. Calls to Yum! China, the company that owns KFC, and Apple, went unanswered.”

China Eyes Eight Cruise Ships To Serve South China Sea. Ben Blanchard, Reuters. “Up to eight Chinese ships will offer cruises to the South China Sea over the next five years, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday, as Beijing continues to promote tourism to the disputed waters. Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd, a joint venture by COSCO Shipping, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corp and China Communications Construction Co Ltd, will buy between five and eight ships, the official China Daily reported. It will also build four cruise liner docks in Sanya, a Chinese resort city on the southern island province of Hainan, the paper added. Liu Junli, chairman of Sanya International Cruise, said the company is already operating the "Dream of the South China Sea" cruise ship and plans to add another two cruise ships by next summer, the report said. The ships will travel to the Crescent group of islands, part of the Paracels, and is also "considering a cruise around the South China Sea at the appropriate time,” it added. Hotels, villas and shops will all be built on the Crescent group, the paper said. It is not clear if foreigners will be allowed on these cruises or if they will be allowed to visit China's holdings in the South China Sea. China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which passes about $5 trillion of trade a year Countries competing to cement their rival claims have encouraged a growing civilian presence on disputed islands in the South China Sea. The first cruises from China to the Paracel islands were launched by Hainan Strait Shipping Co in 2013. Beijing has also said it wants to build Maldives-style resorts around the South China Sea. China has refused to recognize a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.”

Japan's Defense Paper To Show Wariness Over China's Muscle Flexing. Kyodo World Service. “Japan will express its wariness over China's muscle-flexing in the South China Sea in this year's defense white paper, warning Beijing's militarization of the disputed waters is making its territorial claims a fait accompli, according to an outline of the paper obtained by Kyodo News on Wednesday. The white paper, which the Cabinet is expected to approve early next month, will say China's activities in the South China Sea could be called high-handed, unilateral action to change the status quo, the outline indicates. The South China Sea remains a source of friction with neighboring countries as China claims sovereignty over most of the sea, a vital shipping lane and believed to have rich fishing grounds and possibly large oil or natural gas deposits. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. The outline also says that China's activities are intensifying near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China also claims those uninhabited islands, which it calls Diaoyu. It notes that a Chinese navy ship last month sailed in a contiguous zone just outside the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. And it says the number of times that Japan has scrambled its Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets against Chinese aircraft approaching its airspace is rising sharply. As for North Korea, the white paper will criticize Pyongyang's repeated provocative actions, including its test in January of a nuclear explosive device. North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Referring to Pyongyang's launch in February of a long-range rocket that utilized banned ballistic missile technology, the white paper will assert that North Korea has obtained the technology to bring mid- and long-range ballistic missiles to the stage of practical use, and is keen to pursue more advanced missile development, the outline indicates. The outline restates, as last year's paper did, that there is a possibility that North Korea may have succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear weapons for warheads. Regarding terrorism, in the wake of the terrorist attack on a restaurant in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka earlier this month, in which 20 people including seven Japanese were killed, the outline says the threat of terrorism is spreading globally, and Japan must face this as its own challenge. The white paper is also expected to devote a new chapter to the country's new security legislation, which came into effect in March. It enables Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of friendly nations under attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.”

Turnbull Must Walk Tightrope Between US Ally And China. Editorial Board, The West Australian. “One of the many balancing acts Malcolm Turnbull will need to negotiate in this prime ministerial term is the nation’s relationships with the United States and China. While he walks the domestic tightropes of a slim majority government and an unpredictable Senate, Mr Turnbull must also keep a focus on ensuring Australia does not get caught in the crossfire between two of the nation’s most important friends. Tensions have continued to rise over the South China Sea, where the US has been conducting so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises around the artificial islands created on reefs in the Spratly Islands, which China has claimed as its territory. This month, China rejected an international court ruling in favour of the Philippines that said it had no legal basis to claims of sovereignty over large parts of the South China Sea. Australia has urged all parties to act with restraint and abide by the court’s ruling. Labor’s defence shadow minister Stephen Conroy again showed his lack of diplomatic sensibilities, reacting to the international court’s decision with unnecessary aggression. He accused our largest trading partner of “bullying” and called for Australian forces to both sail into and fly over the 12-mile limit around the islands. Mr Turnbull rightly repudiated the errant Opposition spokesman, saying that while everyone else in the region was calling for calm consideration, only Senator Conroy appeared to be calling for an escalation of tensions. Yesterday, the Prime Minster again struck the right tone by encouraging all sides to reach a peaceful solution during a meeting with visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden. Mr Biden reaffirmed the US presence in the Pacific region in a muscle-flexing message that appeared to be aimed at Beijing. “The United States is going nowhere,” he said. “The United States is here in the Pacific to stay. “We are a Pacific nation. We are a Pacific power and we will do our part to maintain peace and stability in the region.” Mr Turnbull cited the many important aspects of our close alliance with the US, including the fight against terrorism and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that will hopefully be ratified soon. He told Mr Biden that Australia has no stronger alliance than the one we have with the US. That may be so, but even the best of friends should be able to agree to disagree.”

The US-ROK Alliance Needs A Boost On Regional Challenges. Randall G. Schriver and Samuel J. Mun, The Diplomat. “Since the signing of the U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Mutual Defense Treaty on October 1, 1953, the U.S.-ROK alliance has been the bedrock of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula for over 60 years. The alliance has since gone “global,” focusing on issues such as non-proliferation, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping. The U.S.-ROK alliance is as robust and dynamic as ever, but in its transformation, it appears to have skipped a stage: a U.S.-ROK alliance focusing on regional challenges beyond the peninsula. As tensions rise in the South China Sea over maritime claims, the need for the U.S. and South Korea to look regionally is more crucial than ever. Both countries have an enormous stake in international law, free flow of trade, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes. In light of these facts, why hasn’t the alliance taken concrete steps toward coordinating its approach toward regional issues as it has toward North Korea and other global challenges? There are three reasons. First is the opportunity cost of diverting attention and resources from defending against North Korea. As North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests have shown over the past six months, the North Korean threat is persistent and growing. North Korea also continues to develop and deploy cyber and other asymmetrical capabilities that pose significant threats to the U.S. and South Korea. The alliance must therefore dedicate a large share of its attention and resources toward a contingency on the Korean peninsula. Second, fraught ties between Japan and South Korea have hindered the U.S.-ROK alliance from bringing Japan into the fold when it comes to addressing regional issues. But the United States cannot affect security in Asia, including the Korean peninsula, without the U.S.-Japan alliance and the U.S. deployed forces in Japan. Japan’s central role in this matter may make some in South Korea uncomfortable, but a regionally focused U.S.-ROK alliance requires coordination with Japan. On a positive note, the Japan-ROK relationship is on the mend after the resolution of the “comfort women” dispute. Additionally, the U.S.-Japan-ROK missile defense exercise this summer was an encouraging sign that the U.S.-ROK alliance is capable of having a regional agenda and incorporating other like-minded countries in the region. The third reason is perhaps the most awkward, which is the divergence of U.S. and ROK views of China. Understandably, antagonizing China or pushing back against China’s destabilizing behavior touches a sensitive nerve among the South Korean public. From the South Korean perspective, realities of geography, bilateral trade, and China’s leverage in influencing North Korea are central to South Korea’s calculus. But China’s leverage over North Korea should not cloud our judgment when it comes to assessing China’s intentions with regard to the Korean peninsula and the region at large. It should not be forgotten that 70 years ago, China sent “volunteer” forces across the Yalu in 1950 to support North Korea, preventing unification of the Korean Peninsula and an end to the Korean War. Fast forward to the 21st century and China continues to prop up its North Korean ally. President Park Geun-hye’s efforts to shore up Seoul-Beijing ties in her administration were rewarded with disappointing results from Beijing, which chose not to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Seoul after Pyongyang’s nuclear test in January. Similarly, in 2010, North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and artillery shelling of a South Korean island brought about no meaningful change in Chinese policy toward its North Korean ally. There is no doubt that Kim Jong-un is unpopular in Beijing, but none of this should reassure the U.S. and ROK that China will pursue a drastic change toward North Korea in favor of U.S. or ROK interests. In fact, it’s unlikely that China plans to accommodate U.S.-ROK interests in the region at all. Xi Jinping shed light on these ambitions when he gave a speech at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in 2014, calling for the establishment of a “new regional security cooperation architecture” and declaring that “A military alliance which is targeted at a third party is not conducive to common regional security.” An achievement of this “Asia for Asians” vision would be devastating to the U.S.-ROK alliance and the broader security network that maintained peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region for the past 70 years. In this light, how consequential can the U.S.-ROK alliance really be if the two governments can’t be on the same page when it comes to China? This is not to say that South Korea shouldn’t pursue a dynamic economic relationship with China. And this is not to say that South Korea’s alliance with the United States should preclude efforts by Seoul to strengthen political and diplomatic relations with Beijing.  But, this does mean that the U.S.-ROK alliance requires a serious assessment of China’s strategic ambitions in the region. There are at least three steps that Seoul and Washington should take in order for the alliance to remain consequential going forward. First, the U.S.-ROK alliance should conduct a joint net assessment of China. What are their capabilities and intentions? What do their military modernization programs mean for the region and the U.S.-ROK alliance? Second, the alliance should develop a regional strategy. Both countries have an enormous stake in freedom of navigation, the peaceful resolution of disputes, democracy, and international norms. And third, the U.S.-ROK alliance should develop infrastructure to respond to regional events, not just peninsular events. In light of China’s rejection of the Permanent Court on Arbitration’s ruling on July 12, the U.S. and South Korea should coordinate freedom of navigation (FON) operations in the South China Sea. By any objective measure, the U.S.-ROK alliance is rightly judged as a shining success. We stand ready to “fight tonight” on the Peninsula and would surely prevail despite Pyongyang’s continuing investments in offensive capabilities. And our alliance can claim success on global issues such as cooperation in fighting terror, proliferation and mutual contributions to international peacekeeping. These virtues notwithstanding, we should also note the danger to the health of our alliance going forward should there be a divergence of views on the most consequential challenge facing the Asia-Pacific region for as far as the eye can see—namely, how to approach a more powerful and more assertive China that seeks to revise the political and security architecture in the region.  Our countries should not sit idly by as the regional security environment deteriorates. Taking these steps will add the necessary dynamism and flexibility for the alliance to tackle the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.”


Posted by Alex Gray | July 20, 2016

Is It Time For The U.S. To Take a Position On Scarborough Shoal? Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt, USNI News. “Starting in early 2016, Scarborough Shoal suddenly became an issue of serious concern for U.S. officials.According to articles in the press reports information was obtained that strongly suggested that China was about to start turning Scarborough into another artificial island, similar to what they had done in the Spratlys. Apparently, one of the factors that suggested Beijing was about to act was a posting found on a Chinese website that included satellite photographs based on a construction bid proposal that would turn Scarborough into an island base similar to what China has constructed on seven Spratlys Islands. A modern Scarborough airfield with radar and other modern information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) facilities so close to Philippine bases where U.S. has been granted rotational access by the Philippine government possess obvious strategic issues. As shown in the graphic below from the office of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), turning Scarborough into a base with air search radars would allow China to have full-time radar coverage over most of Luzon. Whether this is China’s intent is not known, but Washington reacted as though they thought it was. Whatever information the Department of Defense has it was deemed credible enough to trigger a “full-court” press aimed at dissuading Beijing from taking those steps. Given that Scarborough is ideally located to “control” the northeast exit of the South China Sea and is only 150 nautical miles west of Subic Bay, if it was turned into a PLA base with a jet capable airfield it would enable among other things a credible Chinese South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. The U.S. response included beginning the rotational deployment of a small task force of US Air Force tactical aircraft to the Philippines, the presence operations of the USS John Stennis Carrier Strike Group in the South China Sea for much of March, April and May of 2016, along with a many high-level public statements, the most dramatic of which came from the Secretary of Defense in testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee. Carter was quoted as saying that Scarborough is “a piece of disputed territory that, like other disputes in that region, has the potential to lead to military conflict…That’s particularly concerning to us, given its proximity to the Philippines.” According to New York Times reports, President Obama also mentioned Scarborough Shoal to President Xi Jinping during their meeting on March 31st on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit: The stakes are so high that Mr. Obama warned the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, during their recent meeting in Washington not to move on the Scarborough Shoal or invoke an air defense zone, said an American official who was briefed on the details of the encounter and spoke anonymously because of the diplomatic sensitivities. In essence, the flurry of activity regarding Scarborough in March, April and May of 2016 was meant to send a clear signal to China that the United States sees Scarborough as being different from the Paracels and Spratlys. Although official U.S. policy of taking no position on the merits of disputed sovereignty claims to features in the South China Sea includes Scarborough Shoal, recent US action suggests that it does in fact have a different unofficial view. Since Scarborough is not in either the Spratly or Paracel chains and is not also claimed by any littoral state other than China and Taiwan, and for almost 50 years was treated as though it was under US jurisdiction, changing the US position on sovereignty over Scarborough would not be a stretch. It is the author’s view that the evidence supports Philippine sovereignty over the Shoal. To this point: When comparing the Chinese and Philippine cases, evidence of effective occupation is not overwhelming in either case – but, of the two, the Philippines’ case is stronger. Most mariners charted this feature only in order to remain well clear of it since it was a hazard to navigation. Similarly, the presence of itinerant fishermen from either China or the Philippines is legally insufficient to establish a legal presence. But, past activities by the U.S. Navy and Philippine authorities to survey the Shoal so that it could be safe for shipping, constitute some positive occupation, along with its contemporaneous appearance on Philippine charts. Past actions by the Philippine armed forces to exercise law enforcement jurisdiction in the 1960s, both to eject smugglers and to monitor future movement, show intent to exercise jurisdiction over the atoll. The past uses of the shoal by the U.S. Navy for military activities and its legal assessment that the atoll was part of the Philippines also support the case that the Republic of the Philippines was exercising sovereignty over the atoll. Even though the Philippines today asserts that its current claims are independent of the territory that was ceded by Spain to the United States, the key point is that the U.S. government considered it to be part of the Philippines, and any “occupying” activities which it undertook can be vicariously attributed to the Philippines because the United States was the legal proxy for the Philippine people until full independence in 1946. In short, it would not be legally difficult for the U.S. government to persuade itself that the Government of the Philippines does have a superior claim to sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal. The obvious political and security implication of such a judgment would be the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty could be interpreted to cover Scarborough Shoal; an act that hopefully would deter Chinese island building. It is probably not the best time to actually do this while Beijing is still reeling from the Hague arbitral panel findings, and before we learn if Philippine President Duterte is trying to reach a deal with Beijing over access to Scarborough. But, this is a card that Washington should keep close at hand while waiting to see how things play out. Unless the almost three months of recent US naval and air posturing around Scarborough was simply a bluff, it suggests that Washington has already decided that Scarborough is important enough to the security of the Philippines (and to the United States position in the Philippines) to accept the risks associated with doing something that will really irritate Beijing.”

The Wisdom Of The Hague’s South China Sea Decision. Jerome Cohen, The Wall Street Journal. “The July 12 arbitration award in the Philippines case against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) isn’t only significant for East Asia and maritime law. It will also have implications for public international law and the peaceful settlement of international disputes generally. Until now, arbitration hasn’t enjoyed much prominence in international relations. Cannon fire, even from water cannons, makes headlines. The tragic, albeit accidental, death of a single foreign fisherman produces more television coverage. Even important arbitration awards, such as the 2014 Unclos tribunal’s decision to award 80% of the disputed area in the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh rather than India, barely receive international media coverage at all. This helps China to argue that arbitration, like international court adjudication, is inconsistent with Asian values and not an accepted mode of peacefully settling disputes. China’s argument is refuted by the U.N. Charter and many treaties ratified by Asian countries, including China, requiring compulsory arbitration or adjudication. Moreover, as Singapore’s Ambassador Tommy Koh, who played an important role in the 1982 adoption of Unclos, has emphasized, a surprising number of Asian countries have chosen third-party decisions to resolve disputes. Diplomats tend to play down international legal decisions. When in October 2012 I urged East Asian states to use arbitration or adjudication to help settle their territorial and maritime disputes, some diplomats dismissed the idea as unrealistic. I was therefore excited when, a month later, Japan’s departing Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba challenged China to sue Japan before the International Court of Justice to determine sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. Yet the Abe government has only hinted at following Mr. Gemba’s initiative. It took the stunning Philippine arbitration case against China brought in 2013 to illustrate the value that international legal institutions can have for weak countries with no other defense against overwhelming power. The skillfully crafted Philippine legal briefs won my admiration. Although rejected not only by China but also Taiwan, the tribunal’s elaborately researched and scrupulously reasoned responses proved just as impressive. They were even more so given the difficulties imposed by China’s nonparticipation and the tribunal’s mistaken refusal to permit Taiwan’s participation, out of exaggerated deference to Beijing’s “one China” policy. Learned books will soon analyze the complex jurisdictional and substantive issues discussed. Here one can only mention the decision that has drawn the most immediate fire from both Chinas: the determination that the Spratly islands aren’t entitled to the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Unclos Article 121 grants an EEZ to all islands except “rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own.” The words of this confusing but crucial exception aren’t self-defining. They were a compromise among Unclos drafters who, unable to agree upon a more precise formulation, left these vague terms to be given concrete meaning case by case. Despite Taiwan’s formal exclusion from the proceedings, the Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law managed to submit a strong “friend of the court” brief. It tried to demonstrate that Itu Aba (Taiping Dao), the largest of the Spratlys and the only one occupied by Taiwan, is a fully entitled island that doesn’t fall within Article 121’s exception. But the tribunal decided that islands that lack a history of supporting settled human communities without substantial outside aid shouldn’t enjoy the enormous special rights to maritime and seabed resources that EEZ/continental-shelf status confers. To do otherwise, the tribunal declared, would violate the underlying purpose of Article 121 “to prevent States from claiming for themselves potentially immense maritime space . . . to the detriment of other coastal States and/or the common heritage of mankind.” The tribunal conducted an extraordinarily exhaustive and frank examination of the language and drafting history of Unclos and previous law-of-the-sea negotiations. It also considered the limited extent to which practice and earlier decisions had shed light on the issue, relevant Asian historical developments, the region’s geography and geology, and the practical consequences of narrowly or broadly defining the exception. Although initially sympathetic to Taiwan’s brief, I found the tribunal’s bold, lengthy and informative application of Article 121 more persuasive and a much-needed authoritative addition to the law of the sea. It embodies the admonition of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties that international agreements must be interpreted in light of their major purposes. The tribunal erred in not allowing Taiwan adequate opportunity to state its case, but its decision on the merits was surely wise.”

Things Heat Up Near South China Sea: Two U.S. Aircraft Carriers, B-52s And EA-18G Growler Detachment. David Cenciotti, The Aviationist. “Some interesting photographs have been arriving from the troubled waters of Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The most recent ones, released on Jun. 18, show the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) carrier strike groups (CSG 3 and CSG 5) crusing close each other during dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea. Such operations included air combat training, long-range strike training, air defense drills as well as sea surveillance. The CSG 3, that started operations in the Western Pacific on Feb. 4, consists of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9. CSG 5, begun its summer patrol of the Indo-Asia Pacific, on Jun. 4, and consists of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and guided-missile destroyers from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Benfold (DDG 65); the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and routinely, patrols the Western Pacific. According to the U.S. Navy, the CSGs (Carrier Strike Groups) began coordinated operations in international waters to demonstrate “the United States unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups in close proximity.” U.S. Navy aircraft carriers regularly conduct dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific and sometimes also in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea: this occurs when carriers deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the U.S. West Coast are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan. When it happens a force of 12,000 sailors, 140 aircraft, six combatants and two carriers operates in the same sea: an impressive “show of force.” Previously, in Sept. 2012, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) strike groups conducted combined operation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. In 2001, USS Constellation (CV 64) and Carl Vinson operated together in the South China Sea. A few days before the two carriers started combined operations, a joint service bombing exercise at the targeting island Farallon de Medinilla, an uninhabited small island in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean located 45 nautical miles north of Saipan, saw two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers launched from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, fly over USS Spruance (DDG 111) in a maritime attack training sortie. Along with the two carrier strike groups and the B-52 providing extended deterrence, Washington has also deployed to the Philippines the first temporary detachment of Navy EA-18G Growlers. The electronic attack aircraft have arrived at Clark Air Base, on Jun. 15. Even though they are officially there to train with the local FA-50, the detachment, made of 4 aircraft and 120 personnel with the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138, “will support routine operations that enhance regional maritime domain awareness and assure access to the air and maritime domains in accordance with international law.” Therefore, the strategical deployment brought not far from the disputed waters in the South China Sea some cutting-edge aircraft capable to perform electronic escort missions on both U.S. ships and spyplanes that are frequently shadowed by Chinese spyplanes or intelligence gathering ships. Furthermore, the Growlers could jam, if needed, the Chinese radars on the Spratly, Paracel, Pratas and the rest of the islands, including those that have been artificially created, decreasing Beijing ability to establish an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) similar to that in the East China Sea and to support its warplanes in the area. The presence of (some more…) EA-18Gs could theoretically limit the operations of the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) and Navy (PLANAF) that, according to “Flashpoint China: Chinese air power and regional security” published by Harpia Publishing and written by Andreas Rupprecht, one of the most authoritative sources on Chinese Air Power, “are able to ensure virtually continuos, round-the-clock aerial coverage and combat air patrols over the area during a crisis or a conflict.” In particular, the PLANAF is pretty active in the area with a regiment each of H-6 bombers and JH-7 fighter-bombers and no fewer than three regiments of J-11 interceptors covering the South China Sea . “The availability of long-range J-11s and aerial refueling assets implies that much of the SCS [South China Sea] is now de-facto Chinese airspace,” says Rupprecht. It’s not a coincidence that a recent close encounter in the area involved few weeks ago two Chinese J-11 tactical aircraft that carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft on a routine mission in international airspace over the South China Sea.”

China And US Conduct Joint Submarine Rescue Drill. Franz Stefan-Gady, The Diplomat. “The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and U.S. Navy conducted a joint submarine rescue drill on July 13 as part of the 2016 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise, held biennially in June and July of even numbered years in waters around the Hawaiian Islands and southern California. The practical exercise involved the Dalao (Type 926)-class submarine rescue ship Changdao of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet and U.S. Navy submariners who, aboard the Changdao, participated in launching a LR7 deep submergence rescue vehicle. According to a U.S. Pacific Command press release, Chinese and U.S. sailors successfully launched the rescue vehicle and conducted a successful mating with a faux-NATO rescue seat. Deep submergence rescue vehicles are designed to rescue personnel from disabled submarines. They do so by attaching themselves to the hull of the submarine and land on a so-called rescue seat—the submarine’s escape/rescue trunk, through which crew members of the disabled boat can be evacuated. Participants of the drill noted that it confirmed that the PLAN and U.S. Navy can jointly conduct a rescue exercise in the event of an accident. “This exercise was an important part of China’s participation in the RIMPAC-2016 multinational maritime exercise,” China Military Online states. “It was a completely successful exercise on both sides,” said Bill Orr, technical advisor for the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office. “The rescue vehicle mating exercise was a culmination of a very detailed and well-planned bilateral and multilateral submarine rescue vignette within the RIMPAC training evolution.” “I was very impressed with how engaged the Chinese officers were towards enabling a cooperative rescue effort, if needed,” added Orr. “Having everyone ready to jump into action and demonstrating the readiness displayed today is very satisfying. Of course, you hope you never have to use these kinds of skills in a non-training scenario, but I feel very comfortable knowing we can succeed if and when it’s needed.” According to a U.S. Navy diver, who served as a liaison during the drill: “It’s been great collaborating with both the Chinese and the other nations who were on hand for the training symposiums and briefings we did surrounding this exercise. We’ve found that most countries’ submarine rescue assets are very similar, which makes it that much easier should we ever need to come together to perform a submarine rescue.” For the 2016 iteration of RIMPAC, the PLAN dispatched a guided-missile destroyer, a guided-missile frigate, a hospital ship, and a replenishment vessel, along with the submarine rescue ship Changdao. The world’s largest international maritime exercise will conclude on August 4.”


More J-20 Stealth Fighters Built In China. Mike Yeo and Chris Pocock, AIN Online. “China’s Chengdu Aircraft Company (CAC) has built more Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) J-20 stealthy jet fighters, with another new aircraft featured in flight on Chinese websites over the past week. This is the second known J-20 LRIP aircraft, after the first example serialed 2101 was shown in late December 2015. They follow two prototypes and six known development aircraft that featured a successive series of refinements. The latest aircraft is painted in shades of gray and carries toned down national insignia, but unlike all previous J-20s has no identifying serial numbers. Reports from China suggest that this latest aircraft may in fact be the fourth LRIP aircraft, but verifiable evidence of this has yet to surface. Most information about the J-20 has emerged from unofficial Chinese websites, and the type has never been shown in public. The appearance of LRIP aircraft suggests that the type is nearing introduction into service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. A number of J-20s have been seen on satellite imagery at the China Flight Test Establishment base at Xi’an-Yanliang. The latest report to Congress on Chinese defense developments by the U.S. Department of Defense suggests that the J-20 could become operational in 2018. The J-20 appears to be designed for long-range interception with an emphasis on frontal-aspect low-observability. It has an infrared search and track sensor and possibly also an electro-optical distributed aperture system (EODAS), the latter a Chinese-designed system similar to that on the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. The weapons are carried internally, with a central bay expected to contain four beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs). There is also provision for two short-range AAMs in two separate weapons bays on each side of the fuselage. The main question that is left for the design is the powerplant, with all J-20s built so far being powered by two Russian Saturn AL-31 engines. China hopes eventually to install 180-kN (40,000-pound-thrust)-rated WS-15 turbofans. But China’s jet engine development program has been stymied by manufacturing and reliability issues. Even the less ambitious WS-10 turbofan is yet to fully enter service with the single-engine Chengdu J-10 fighter, although it has been flying on the twin-engine Shenyang J-11 Flanker since 2010. Meanwhile, Chinese websites have also shown what appears to be a second J-31 stealth fighter leaving the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation factory by road, covered in tarpaulins. The prototype J-31 was similarly recorded, before its first flight in October 2012. This type is being marketed for export as the FC-31. At the Dubai Airshow last November, a Chinese official told reporters that the FC-31 would be powered by Chinese engines. The prototype was powered by two Russian RD-93s.”

Sorry For Having Insulted China? Here’s Your Chance To Apologize. Didi Kirsten Tatlow, The New York Times. “Chinese leaders have often accused those who disagree with them of “hurting the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese.” Getting into the spirit, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers are responding enthusiastically to a satirical Facebook page calling on them to say “sorry” to China. Sorry for anything, and everything. The reasons for contrition so far have included living under a blue sky (China’s skies are chronically polluted); eating clean food (food safety is a major challenge in China); and locking the door when using the toilet (not always done on the mainland). “I’m sorry, I don’t write simplified characters,” wrote Ziyou, referring to the writing style of mainland China, but not Hong Kong or Taiwan, in apologizing for being different from Beijing. The commenter’s name is itself a clever pun. It means “character travel,” but is a homophone for “freedom.” The Facebook page comes as actors and other celebrities across Asia and the United States find themselves the target of rising Chinese nationalism, their careers vulnerable to the scrutiny of thousands of “patriots” ready to sniff out perceived disloyalty to the Communist Party. They may be accused of being “poisonous,” “traitors” or “anti-China elements,” often for gestures or statements that are considered normal in their places of birth. Some have been pressured to issue videotaped or written apologies. On Facebook, the person identified as a founder of the #FirstAnnualApologiseToChinaContest described himself as a farmer and philosophy student in Taiwan named Wang Yikai, according to the mainland transliteration for the characters in his name. Mr. Wang did not respond to a request for comment, and the preferred rendering of his name could not be confirmed. “If you have any thing want to apologize to China, Welcome to attend the first annual ‘Apologise to China’ contest,” the page reads in English. The contest began Saturday and expires July 30 and the winner will be crowned ‘The first king of apologize to China!’” the page said. In one video on the page that is proving a popular contender for the title, several men prance around a room in what look like rubber wet suits, slapping themselves on the face and bottom, apologizing. Most of the video is in Cantonese, the language spoken in Hong Kong and southern China, but one set of apologies is sung in Japanese. Japan is another target for Chinese online patriotic ire because of a territorial dispute over the islands known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan. Here are some of the lyrics:

“My fault, my fault, my fault, my fault.

Don’t, don’t, don’t be angry,

I pity you, glass-hearted baby.

I’m sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.

You aren’t wrong. It’s all my fault.

I am sorry, I am sorry.

I pity you, patriotic baby.”

Recently, the trolling reached saturation point for Kiko Mizuhara, 25, a Japanese-American model and actress who, separately and in earnest, apologized to those who said she had expressed anti-China sentiments. She stood accused of “liking” an image by the artist Ai Weiwei of a lifted middle finger on Tiananmen Square, among other things. Online, some sprang to Ms. Mizuhara’s defense: “China really is a damnable pile of mentally ill people and crazy dogs,” wrote Chuang Viki underneath the video broadcast on YouTube, which is blocked by Chinese censors. Another recent high-profile target who has been obliged to issue an apology is the Taiwanese actor Leon Dai. Tens of thousands of Weibo posts have accused him of supporting independence for Taiwan and Falun Gong, a spiritual group that is banned on the Chinese mainland. “You are not good enough to be Chinese,” wrote one person, in a typical comment. “You Taiwan independence separatist won’t have a good death.” Last week, Zhao Wei, a mainland Chinese actress and director also known as Vicki Zhao, said she was dropping Mr. Dai from her movie “No Other Love” over the uproar. In January, the Taiwan pop singer Chou Tzu-yu, a member of a South Korean band, apologized after being excoriated by Chinese commenters online for holding a Taiwanese flag during presidential elections on the island. For many Asian artists, the Chinese market has become a core part of their sales, exposing them to threats of boycott. “Apologized yet today?” a person wrote on the Facebook page, summing up the mood. Online wrath for those who cross China surged after a ruling last week by an international tribunal rejecting the country’s claims to most of the South China Sea. On its official Weibo site, the Communist Youth League praised the waxing patriotic fervor. “The Leon Dai scandal and the South China Sea tribunal ruling have flooded China’s social media,” it wrote. “The young people rushing onto center stage are changing the rules of the game of social media.” “They have built a path of national territorial integrity and sovereignty that are core interests of the country, and that constitute a red line that cannot be crossed,” it added. “And that’s the own choice of a new generation.” Over the weekend, a popular Beijing-based Taiwan journalist, Gong Ling, committed suicide, leaving a note saying, “There is nothing in China that is not political.” Ms. Gong had reportedly had depression, but she said she had also been the target of criticism by mainland Chinese who applied “trumped-up labels” to attack her pro-Taiwan politics. But even that was an occasion for nationalistic criticism online, with some on the mainland Chinese site Zhihu saying that Ms. Gong lacked resilience, and that the tragedy reflected that China was becoming powerful and Taiwan weaker.”

China’s Failure In The South China Sea. Orville Schell, The China File. “The recent Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague’s long-awaited ruling on conflicting Chinese and Filipino claims in the South China Sea has delivered a stunning rebuke to Beijing. By insinuating international law into what essentially had been a standoff, many hoped that the Court’s decision would provide an off-ramp for the disputants. But, far from accepting the Hague’s ruling as Indian Prime Minister Modi graciously had in 2014 after losing in a different UNCLOS arbitration with Bangladesh over the Bay of Bengal, Beijing rejected the court’s judgment out of hand and began lashing back defiantly against the Permanent Court of Arbitration, calling it a “puppet tribunal” and its decision a “farce directed by Washington” with no legal standing. By reiterating its policy of “no acceptance, no participation, no recognition, and no implementation,” China has painted itself into a difficult corner and diminished the chances of resolving the myriad maritime disputes—involving Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and now even Indonesia as well as the Philippines—in a peaceful manner. What is more, by continuing to press its claims with such belligerence, Beijing also throws up a huge obstruction in the way of better U.S.-China relations. After all, the only force that stands between the weaker South East Asian countries and China is the U.S. Pacific Fleet. What makes the Hague ruling so sensitive for China right now is not just the humiliating rebuke it gives to Beijing and President Xi Jinping, but the fact that it comes as one more in a string of already embarrassing, if largely unnoticed, other reverses that China has recently suffered in its relations with Asian countries. Together they form a striking tableau of foreign policy ineptitude, examples of China’s misreading the real balance of power and politics in the region and then acting either to propitiate nationalistic sentiment at home or to defend what Xi may imagine is part of a larger restoration of China to a position of greatness in Asia and the world. However, if looked at from a somewhat different perspective, it is difficult to see how these serial setbacks have done anything but harm to China’s global standing, diminish its security, and undermine the long term interests of the Chinese people. Whereas only six or seven years ago China’s relations with almost all neighboring countries in Asia, particularly those in South East Asia, were quite good, now, as a result of these maritime disputes and other missteps, China cannot boast a single true ally, even obedient client state, in the region today. A list of the recent reverses China has suffered includes: The Philippines: Manila, a U.S. treaty ally, has not only just won a milestone international law case against Beijing, but also, because of China’s expansionism into Philippine claimed waters, U.S. forces, expelled from the Republic in the 1990s, have now been invited back into the country, reconsolidating the Philippine-U.S. alliance. Vietnam: Because of an increasingly conflicted relationship with China over island claims in the South China Sea, Communist Party-ruled Vietnam has not only given rise to anti-Chinese riots, begun hosting a growing number of visits by the U.S. President, Secretary of State, and other officials; agreed to join the Trans Pacific Partnership; but also even begun discussing turning over old Vietnam War era naval bases to the U.S. Navy. Japan: Although during the 1970s most WWII grievances were resolved so that a period of real Sino-Japanese amity ensued in the 1980s, in the past two decades Beijing has revived its dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands with Tokyo, another U.S. treaty ally. By harping again on the inadequacy of Tokyo’s apologies for wartime abuses, Beijing has increasingly strained relations between the world’s second and third largest economies and excited conservative anti-Chinese forces within Japan, recently helping Prime Minister Shinzo Abe win a sweeping electoral victory. South Korea: It was not so many months ago that South Korea, also a U.S. treaty ally, found its President, Park Geun-hye, sitting on Tiananmen Gate making nice with Chinese President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in hopes of cementing better trade relations with China and winning President Xi’s support for more Chinese pressure on North Korea, or the DPRK. However, upon returning home, not only were there few signs of Chinese reciprocity, but when President Park called President Xi and did not get a response for a month, and when the DPRK began testing hydrogen weapons and long range missiles as China stood by, President Park not only turned to the United Nations for a stricter regimen of sanctions, but began pivoting back toward the U.S., even requesting, and getting (over strenuous Chinese objections), Washington’s agreement to provide the ROK with a THAAD missile defense system. Myanmar: Once ruled by a military junta that made it a reliable authoritarian client state, in the last three years Myanmar not only has become an increasingly democratic country, but also has become more independent, more suspicious of China’s big power intentions and drifted closer to the U.S. orbit. Taiwan: Once in an accomodationist mode of interaction under former President Ma Ying-jeou, the Taiwan presidency and legislature, captured in January by Tsai Ying-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—a party long committed to independence—now puts this already insubordinate island into a heightened state of tension with China. Indonesia: Long friendly to China, Indonesia’s recent disputes over fishing grounds within its Exclusive Economic Zone have introduced new animosities and conflict into its bi-lateral relations with Beijing. Even though these reverses have largely been self-inflicted by China, if the past is any guide to the future, Beijing leaders once again will blame “hostile foreign forces,” just as the New China News Agency started to do when it called the recent international court ruling “a bundle of fairy rope the West has tossed out at a strategic moment in a vain attempt to terminate China’s development.” Also militating against a Chinese course correction is the ever widening abyss between Xi Jinping’s florid rhetoric about the birth of a new New China that is wealthy, powerful, and invincible, and the actual reality of the world now arrayed around him. After extolling Mao Zedong and his socialist revolution in his recent speech commemorating the 95th Anniversary of the Party, President Xi launched into a peroration on his ambitions to “realize the China dream of bringing about a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” However, he also pointedly reminded neighboring countries that, “Although China does not covet other countries’ rights and interests and is not jealous about other countries’ development, it definitely will not give up its own legitimate rights and interests… The Chinese people do not provoke matters, but are not afraid to confront provocations. No country should expect that we will trade away our own core interests. No country should expect that we will eat the bitter fruits of undermining our country’s sovereignty, security, and development interests. ”In such a grandiose notion of national revival, for a proud and thin-skinned leader like Xi there is no tolerance for the indignity of appearing weak. And so, while a Hague ruling may on the surface seem only to be about rocks, atolls, and shoals in the South China Sea, for Xi it is about dignity and face. And in his playbook of grand pretension, yielding to an international court in The Hague, in a case brought by the weakling Philippines, or anyone else for that matter, is unthinkable. As the phrase now found on billboards around China puts it, “When it comes to Chinese territory, not one inch will we yield.” Xi is jousting in the international lists of greatness, and for him manifestations of vacillation or compromise, much less surrender, are intolerable signs of weakness. So, precisely because China has quietly endured a series of self-induced, although unwelcome, setbacks around its peripheries, Xi is all the more allergic to being tarred again with the big brush of failure, especially on such a grand and public stage as the South China Sea has now become. Thus, it will be more than a little surprising if Xi and China now somehow do the sensible thing by reversing rudders, prudently seeking compromise, and getting on with their far more important and already perilous task of economic reform and building better relations with their Pacific neighbors.”


Posted by Alex Gray | July 19, 2016

China Begins Air Patrols Over Disputed Area Of The South China Sea. Michael Forsythia, New York Times. “China said Monday that it had begun what would become regular military air patrols over disputed islands and shoals of the South China Sea, highlighting its claim to the vast area a week after an international tribunal said Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis. China’s air force flew a “combat air patrol” over the South China Sea “recently,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported, citing Shen Jinke, an air force spokesman. The patrol consisted of bombers, fighters, “scouts” and tankers and would become “regular practice,” Mr. Shen said, according to Xinhua. The announcement of the air patrols, plus a separate statement that China would conduct military exercises in the South China Sea off the coast of Hainan Island, came as Adm. John M. Richardson, the chief of United States naval operations, was in Beijing to discuss the South China Sea and other issues that arose after the tribunal rebuked China’s claims over the waters on July 12. The landmark decision rejected China’s assertion that it enjoys historical rights over a huge area of the South China Sea encompassed by a “nine-dash line.” China had argued that the court had no jurisdiction in the matter. China’s announcement of military exercises and patrols as a response to the ruling had been expected by analysts. But Beijing also moved to contain any public anger over the tribunal’s decision. The angry mobs of people demonstrating outside of embassies in the Chinese capital, a regular feature in the past when China wanted to vent its grievances, never materialized. On Monday, Admiral Richardson’s Chinese counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli, said China would continue construction in the South China Sea. In the past two years, China has reclaimed thousands of acres on seven features in the Spratly Islands, an area where Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims, building ports, large airstrips and radar installations. “We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands halfway,” Xinhua, in a separate report, quoted Admiral Wu as saying, using the Chinese name for the Spratly chain. “The Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful.” Significantly, the Xinhua report on the air patrols said the flights encompassed the Scarborough Shoal, a fishing ground far to the north of the Spratlys off the coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines. China seized control of the shoal in 2012, using coast guard vessels to bar Filipino fishermen. The tribunal ruled that China had violated what it said were the “traditional fishing rights” of Filipino fishermen in the area. The Xinhua article did not say when the air patrol took place and did not provide any details, other than saying that the bombers were H-6K aircraft, a modification of a decades-old Soviet design that carries cruise missiles. China has not reclaimed land on Scarborough Shoal, a move that would probably inflame tensions with the Philippines as well as with the United States. And while Admiral Wu reminded Admiral Richardson about China’s position on the South China Sea, his remarks, coming only days after one of the most stinging rebukes to Beijing’s foreign policy in years, were moderated with calls for more cooperation between the world’s two biggest navies.”

China To Continue Construction On Disputed Islands. Chun Han Wong, The Wall Street Journal. “China’s navy chief told his U.S. counterpart that Beijing would continue construction work on disputed South China Sea islands regardless of foreign opposition, state media said, underscoring Chinese defiance toward an unfavorable international-arbitration ruling. Adm. Wu Shengli’s comments on Monday came days after a July 12 arbitration tribunal at The Hague rejected Beijing’s historic and economic claims over much of the South China Sea, handing a legal victory to the Philippines, which had brought the case. The ruling also excoriated China’s efforts to build artificial islands in the Spratlys chain, known as Nansha in Chinese. “We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands matter what country or person applies pressure,” Adm. Wu told U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson during a meeting in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Adm. Wu defended the construction—spanning land reclamation and the building of lighthouses and airstrips—as “justified and lawful,” and warned that efforts to coerce China “will only have the opposite effect,” Xinhua said. Monday’s meeting was part of Adm. Richardson’s first visit to China as U.S. Navy chief. “The overall tone of the meeting was positive, but the discussions were certainly candid and frank,” U.S. Navy Cdr. Chris Servello said. “Admiral Richardson conveyed the importance of adhering to international laws and norms and reiterated that U.S. forces will sail, fly and operate where [the] laws allow.”  China has boycotted the arbitration and said it would ignore the ruling, but some observers say the verdict could prompt Beijing to start reclaiming land and building facilities on Scarborough Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop also claimed by the Philippines. Monday’s meeting coincided with a Chinese air force statement saying that it recently flew long-range bomber aircraft near Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited clump of rocks, sandbars and coral reefs near valuable fishing grounds, also known as Huangyan Island in Chinese.  The People’s Liberation Army Air Force didn’t specify when the “air combat patrol” took place, or whether it was before or after the tribunal’s ruling. The patrol featured the H-6K bomber—a Chinese variant of a Russian-designed jet—as well as fighter, reconnaissance and tanker aircraft, the air force said Monday on its verified Weibo microblog. Such patrols over the South China Sea will become “regular” practice, and are part of the PLAAF’s efforts to carry out more realistic combat training, air force spokesman Sr. Col. Shen Jinke said in the Weibo statement. The statement didn’t say how many aircraft were involved in the patrol, nor did it reveal how close they came to Scarborough Shoal, control of which China seized from the Philippines in 2012. It wasn’t clear whether the patrol was linked to PLA exercises in the South China Sea that ended on July 11. China’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment on the patrol. It wasn’t clear if Adm. Wu and Adm. Richardson discussed the patrol in their meeting, which also broached bilateral naval cooperation. The PLA Navy is participating in U.S.-led joint naval drills held in waters near Hawaii, which end in early August. Washington has publicly warned China against reclaiming land around Scarborough Shoal, located 120 nautical miles from the Philippines and some 250 nautical miles northeast of the artificial islands Beijing has built in the disputed Spratlys archipelago over the past two years. In April, the U.S. flew three different air patrols near the shoal as a signal of its concerns about possible Chinese plans for the area.”

Philippines Rejects China Talks Not Based On Sea Feud Ruling. Jim Gomez, Associated Press. “The Philippines' top diplomat said Tuesday he had rejected a Chinese offer to hold talks "outside of and in disregard" of an international tribunal's ruling last week that debunked Beijing's claim to ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said he told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that China's condition "was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest," adding Wang warned that if the Philippines insists on China's compliance to the decision, "we might be headed for a confrontation." During talks on the sidelines of last weekend's Asia-Europe meeting in Mongolia, Yasay said Wang insisted that the Philippines should not even "make any comments" on the landmark decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Wang "asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside of and in disregard of the arbitral ruling, so this is something that I told him was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest," Yasay told the ABS-CBN network. "They said that if you will insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation," he said. Despite the seeming impasse, Yasay said he was still hopeful both countries can find a way to resolve the long-seething dispute, suggesting China's publicly issued positions may still change. Yasay said he asked that Filipinos be allowed to fish in the Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese coast guard ships have blocked and turned away fishing boats since effectively seizing the disputed fishing area after a tense standoff with Philippine government ships in 2012. Wang responded by saying China was open to discussing that possibility with the Philippines "but not in the context of the arbitral tribunal ruling," Yasay said. Two days after the tribunal issued its ruling, Chinese coast guard ships again blocked Filipino fishermen from approaching the shoal in scenes documented by an ABS-CBN news crew. The Philippines decided to take its dispute with China to international arbitration in 2013 after China took control of Scarborough Shoal and reneged on a U.S. State Department-brokered deal for both countries to withdraw their ships from the area to ease a dangerous faceoff, according to former President Benigno Aquino III, who brought the case against Beijing. With the Philippines' anemic military dwarfed by China's forces, Aquino bolstered relations with the United States and other allies to deter China's increasingly assertive actions in the disputed waters and modernize its air force and naval fleets, further straining ties with Beijing. Rodrigo Duterte, who took over as president last month, has been seen as more conciliatory toward China and critical of U.S. security policies, saying during an election campaign that he would be willing to "shut up" on the disputes if China would finance railway projects in his impoverished country. When the tribunal issued its decision, Duterte's government purposely avoided any high-profile celebration to avoid antagonizing China, which refused to take part in the process and declared the tribunal's ruling "null and void." The ruling, which was welcomed by the U.S. and other countries, invalidated China's sprawling territorial claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, regarded as the constitution governing the use of the world's oceans. It said that China violated the 1982 maritime treaty by building up artificial islands in the South China Sea that destroyed coral reefs and by disrupting Philippine fishing and oil exploration. Yasay took an assertive tone Tuesday. "Let me say that the arbitral tribunal had really debunked in no unmistakable terms the position of China in so far as the nine-dash line is concerned," Yasay said, referring to Beijing's expansive sea claims demarcated by dashes on its maps.”

China To Close Part Of South China Sea For Military Exercise. Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press. “China is closing off a part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week, the government said Monday, days after an international tribunal ruled against Beijing's claim to ownership of virtually the entire strategic waterway. Hainan's maritime administration said an area southeast of the island province would be closed from Monday to Thursday, but gave no details about the nature of the exercises. The navy and Defense Ministry had no immediate comment. Six governments claim territory in the South China Sea, although the area where the Chinese naval exercises are being held is not considered a particular hotspot. China's navy and coast guard operate extensively throughout the South China Sea and regularly stage live firing exercises in the area. The announcement of the drills came in the middle of a three-day visit to China by the U.S. Navy's top admiral, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, to discuss the South China Sea dispute and ways to boost interactions between the two militaries. Although the tribunal's ruling was likely to be raised in Richardson's discussions, the head of the Chinese navy, Adm. Wu Shengli, did not mention it directly in opening remarks before reporters at a meeting Monday between the two men at navy headquarters in Beijing. State broadcaster CCTV later reported that Wu reiterated China's determination to defend all of its territorial claims in the South China Sea and would not permit its interests to be infringed on, a standard position for Chinese officials. China rejected last Tuesday's ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case initiated by the Philippines, and refused to take part in the arbitration. It asserts that islands in the South China Sea are "China's inherent territory," and says it could declare an air defense identification zone over the waters if it felt threatened. In the days following the ruling, Beijing landed two civilian aircraft on new airstrips on disputed Mischief and Subi reefs and dispatched its coast guard to block Philippine fishing boats from a contested shoal. In a further development, Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by state media as saying that air force fighters and bombers had recently conducted patrols over the South China Sea and would make that "a regular practice" in future. The tribunal ruled that China violated international maritime law by building up artificial islands in the South China Sea that destroyed coral reefs, and by disrupting fishing and oil exploration. China's island development has inflamed regional tensions, with many fearing that Beijing will use the construction of new islands complete with airfields and military facilities to extend its military reach and perhaps try to restrict navigation. Several times in the past year, U.S. warships have deliberately sailed close to one of those islands to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge the claims. In response, China has deployed fighter jets and ships to track and warn off the American ships, and accused the U.S. of threatening its national security.”

China Vs. Vietnam: Next Up At The International Court On The South China Sea. Anders Corr, Forbes. “Now that the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration voted resoundingly in Philippines’ favor on the South China Sea, it is Vietnam’s turn to bring an arbitration case. China has interfered massively in Vietnam’s economic development — not only against its fishing, but against its offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction. China justifies its interference in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) based on China’s recently-claimed 9-dash line — the same 1930s line that the Court invalidated yesterday in the Philippine legal victory. In 2012, China cut the cables of seismic equipment used by Vietnam to explore its own EEZ for oil and gas. Starting in 2014, China repeatedly explored for oil within Vietnam’s 200 nautical mile EEZ, with its high-tech $1 billion HS 981 drilling rig. Subsidized Chinese steel-hulled boats regularly sink wooden Vietnamese fishing boats in disputed areas of the South China Sea, most recently last weekend. In what the Vietnamese describe as a “merciless and pitiless” incident, Chinese boats tried to prevent rescuers from retrieving fishermen thrown overboard. With the Court’s ruling yesterday, nothing stops Vietnam from bringing a similar arbitration case against China — and getting an almost certain win. Vietnam has done a great job of patching up its differences with countries more reasonable than China. Vietnam even submitted a joint submission with Malaysia on their shared continental shelf — a model of cooperation and reason. Vietnam still claims all of the Spratlys and Paracel Islands, but one senses none of the stridency and intensity regarding these claims that was exhibited by China on their 9-dash line claim. My prediction is that Vietnamese leaders simply want — and will soon petition — the Court to ascertain the limits of their EEZ, based on 200 nautical miles from the coastline, plus additional continental shelf. Once this is settled, Vietnam will be theoretically free to fully utilize its EEZ. Enforcement of Vietnam’s claim is another matter. China’s reaction to the Philippine’s successful case over the coming months will help Vietnam know what to expect after a new ruling in its favor. But there is now every reason for Vietnam to bring an arbitration case. As President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines discovered, there is no reason to bargain with China prior to a PCA ruling, as the PCA ruling strengthened the bargaining position of the Philippines. China knew this, which is why China was so desperate for bilateral negotiations prior to yesterday’s ruling. Vietnam’s bargaining position with China will be similarly strengthened by bringing a case and receiving a ruling from the Hague tribunal. Let’s hope Vietnam now takes action.”

The Curious Case Of Okinotori: Reef, Rock, Or Island? June Teufel Dreyer, CSIS PacNet. “The July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in favor of the Philippines’ case against China’s claim to sovereignty over large portions of the South China Sea created ripple effects that went far beyond the area involved. In denying that many of the entities claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were islands, which would entitle them to exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of 200 nautical miles from their base lines, but rocks, which are entitled to only a 12-mile exclusion zone, the tribunal also undermined the Japanese government’s claim that Okinotori is an island. These distinctions are not trivial. If Okinotori were recognized as an island, Japan would be entitled to an additional 116,474 sq. nautical miles, or about 400,000 sq. km, of EEZ. This is larger than the total land area of the rest of Japan. The Japanese government, which had previously transferred coast guard vessels to the Philippines to assist Manila in patrolling areas claimed by China, immediately affirmed the PCA’s decision, but also reiterated Japan’s claim to Okinotori’s status as an island, Okinotorishima. Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio noted that the court’s verdict applied only to the issues between China and the Philippines, adding that Okinotori had been regarded as an island since 1931 – presumably because the Japanese government’s declaration of sovereignty over it as a shima, island, in that year was uncontested – and, further, that the court had not set the standards for what constitutes a rock. Earlier, Kuribayashi Tadao, a highly regarded Japanese expert on the law of the sea, had argued that there was no legal definition of a rock, and since rocks are not coral reefs, a country can claim an EEZ based on its possession of the latter. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide essentially repeated Kishida’s points the following day. Located about midway between Guam and Taiwan, the entity, whose name translates “Distant Bird,” is 1,050 miles from Tokyo, making it Japan’s southernmost possession. Part of the Ogasawara (Bonin) island chain, Okinotori is so small that that it is not even marked on most maps. The first mention of its existence was recorded in the log of the British ship Iphigenia in 1789, under the name Douglass Reef. It is noteworthy that the British record refers to the outcropping as a reef, which is defined as a ridge of rock, sand, or coral, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea. By contrast, an island is a naturally formed area of land surrounded by water that stays above water at high tide, and which can sustain human habitation. According to Article 121 (3) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), entities that are above water at high tide but cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own are not considered islands but rocks, and are not entitled to an EEZ. The British did not claim Douglass Reef, and the next known visits were from a Japanese ship, the Manshu, in 1921 and 1925. After ascertaining that no other claimants to the area existed, the Japanese government in 1931 declared sovereignty over what it called Okinotorishima, placing it under the jurisdiction of Tokyo municipality, along with the rest of the Ogasawaras. The impetus for the annexation is believed to have come from the imperial navy, since the area, in the midst of the Philippine Sea, is strategically located and surrounded by deep water. Plans for a hydroplane base, a lighthouse, and a meteorological observation site were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. After the war, the US occupied the Ogasawaras, including Okinotori, returning them in 1968 to little notice and no recorded objections. In 1983, Japan became a signatory to UNCLOS and, based on its possession of Okinotorishima, claimed the aforementioned 154,000 sq. mile EEZ.   Whatever its condition in 1789 and the 1920s – during the latter, the navy referred to it as five entities above sea level – erosion had by the 1970s reduced Okinotori to two, typically described as the size of king-sized beds. In the 1980s, perhaps in response to Chinese hydrographic mapping activities in the area, the Japanese government began to literally shore up its claims. Okinotori’s remaining natural features were surrounded with 82-foot thick concrete floors and steel breakwaters to stave off further erosion. Slits were cut in the concrete casing to comply with the UNCLOS stipulation that an island must be surrounded by water, and the smaller outcropping was covered by a titanium net to shield it from debris thrown up by waves. The site was seeded with calciferous micro-organisms. In 1988, Japan’s Marine Science and Technology Center installed a marine investigation facility, and regularly repairs it after typhoons. The total expenditure exceeded $600 million. The Chinese government expressed its displeasure. In April 2004, at a meeting of mid-level diplomats from both sides after the Japanese government objected to China’s hydrographic exploration activities in the area, Beijing declared for the first time that it considered Okinotori a rock, not an island, and therefore not entitled to an EEZ. The Japanese government did not respond, incentivizing the Nippon Foundation a private organization that has sponsored nationalistic causes as well as charitable and other activities, to take action. An investigative delegation landed on the rock/reef/island the following February, later proposing projects designed to create the conditions for self-sustaining economic activity and, eventually, human habitation. Under international law, while the EEZ waters beyond the 12-mile territorial sea are regarded as international, the state possessing the EEZ has the right to exploit, conserve, and manage its natural resources, whether living or nonliving, of the seabed and the waters lying immediately above it with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents, and winds. The state also has jurisdiction over the establishment and use of artificial islands, installation and structures, marine scientific research, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.  With the world’s fishery stocks rapidly depleting due to rising demand from growing populations and overfishing, who has jurisdiction has been an increasingly contentious issue. Fishing rights became an issue between Taiwan and Japan in April 2016, when Japanese authorities seized and fined a Taiwanese fishing boat within the former’s claimed EEZ. Taiwan, whose fishing associations constitute a strong lobby group, also objects to the existence of an EEZ in the area. An EEZ extending from Okinotori has strategic significance as well. The area is potentially rich in oil, other energy resources, and rare metals, and lies along the route US warships would likely take from bases in Guam to defend Japan and/or Taiwan in a confrontation with China. apan and Taiwan’s newly inaugurated government, more Japan-friendly than its predecessor, have already established a negotiating framework that is likely to resolve their dispute. It concerns fishing rights alone, and already in 2013 the two sides reached agreement on similarly contested fishing waters elsewhere. Since China’s interests are broader, encompassing other resources as well as security issues, it will doubtless continue to object.  Since Okinotori cannot, at least at present, sustain either significant economic activity or human habitation, Tokyo’s case would appear to be weak. The only other comparable case involved the United Kingdom’s claim to the eroded remains of an extinct volcano aptly named Rockall, whose EEZ, if recognized, would establish a claim to the rich fishing grounds of the area. After the ratification of UNCLOS, London agreed to four-way talks with Dublin, Reykjavik, and Copenhagen, in essence backing away from its claim. Still, one must ask what country would want to submit Japan’s claim to Okinotori as an island to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Taiwan, barred from entering the United Nations due to the PRC’s opposition, has no standing, and little incentive, to bring such a case. China, having already announced that does not believe ITLOS has jurisdiction over such matters, would have difficulty justifying what would seem a complete turn-around in its position. And thus far no other state has expressed interest in doing so.   Hence, weak or not, Japan’s stance seems likely to remain legally untested. Chinese fishermen are likely to fish in these troubled waters, as elsewhere, and Beijing will continue to defend their right to do so, reserving the right to defend it by force if need be. In other words, the significance of the court’s decision notwithstanding, little will change in the waters surrounding Okinotori(shima).”

Shaping China’s Response To The South China Sea Ruling. Bonnie Glaser, The National Interest. “China’s national pride as well as its ambitions to exert control over the South China Sea were dealt a heavy blow by the July 12 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in the case filed by the Philippines. As expected, Beijing firmly rejected the ruling, declaring the award null and void with no legally binding force. In a string of official statements, including a new White Paper, China reiterated its positions and warned that it would decisively respond to any provocations against Chinese interests in the South China Sea. In a sharp rebuke to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s call for China to abide by the verdict and her assertion that Australia would continue freedom of navigation exercises, China’s foreign ministry spokesman cautioned Australia against treating international law as a 'game' and threatened that unwelcome actions by Canberra could result in a setback in bilateral relations. Beijing’s policy response to the ruling is not yet clear, however. After venting its anger and shoring up the legitimacy of the Communist Party by pledging to the Chinese people that the CCP will protect and defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Xi Jinping will likely review his country’s approach to the South China Sea disputes. The result will be either a decision to double down on its assertive and coercive actions, or to revise its South China Sea strategy in favor of a more accommodating approach. If Xi opts to double down and forge ahead with Chinese efforts to control the sea and air space in the South China Sea, tensions will increase along with the attendant risk of military conflict. China could land fighter jets on its three new airstrips in the Spratlys and further militarize the artificial islands it has built by dredging sand from the bottom of the ocean. In contravention of the ruling and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China could draw straight baselines around the Spratlys as an island grouping and declare internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. An Air Defense Identification Zone could be established mirroring vast China’s nine-dash line claim. In what would be an especially provocative move, Beijing could proceed with an apparent plan to dredge and build another military outpost on Scarborough Shoal, only 123 miles from the Philippine island of Luzon. In addition, the Chinese could continue their unlawful behavior of interfering (through use of Coast Guard vessels, imposition of fishing regulations, etc) with foreign fishing boats and exploitation of energy in portions of the South China Sea where China claims 'historic rights.' Alternatively, Xi Jinping could decide to gradually adjust China’s policy, comply with parts of the ruling, and seek accommodation with the neighborhood. For example, China could negotiate an agreement with the Philippines that allows fishermen from both countries to fish within the territorial waters of Scarborough Shoal. This would be a true win-win: Beijing could highlight the agreement as vindicating its long-standing preference for bilateral diplomacy and Philippine fishermen could return to securing their livelihood in the waters from which they have been excluded for more than four years. China could signal that it will not prevent Manila from exploiting oil and gas fields at Reed Bank. Beijing could stop declaring annual no-fishing zones in the Paracels and refrain from harassing Vietnamese fishermen. Future activities on Chinese-built islands in the Spratlys could be strictly limited to provision of public goods, the absolute minimum necessary for self-defense. China could refrain from dredging new islands. Cooperation between China and ASEAN could advance with an agreement on applying the protocols and procedures under the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) to regional coast guards and the conclusion of a legally binding Code of Conduct. An escalatory response by China is more likely if Beijing feels cornered by the US and its allies. For this reason, it is essential that the Philippines be humble in victory and that other countries resist the temptation to shame and isolate China. It is unnecessary (and incorrect) to humiliate Xi Jinping by declaring that China’s nine-dash line is invalid. The ruling has left open the possibility that the nine-dash line can endure as a representation of China’s claim to sovereignty over land features and maritime entitlements permitted under UNCLOS. Washington and Canberra should strongly support dialogue between Beijing and Manila to work out their differences. We should also encourage other countries to exercise self-restraint and ensure that their law enforcement vessels and fishing boats abide strictly by UNCLOS to deny China any pretext for future violations. Freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea should continue, but their timing and conduct should be carefully considered. Moreover, such missions should be carried out quietly, without fanfare. If the details of a US FONOP are leaked to the media, the Pentagon should simply state that the operation was a routine enforcement of freedom of navigation and overflight, and was not intended to challenge Chinese sovereignty. If Chinese rhetoric and actions over time indicate that Beijing is not making 'excessive claims' to maritime jurisdiction that are inconsistent with 'high seas freedoms' under UNCLOS, such FONOPS may no longer be necessary. The next US administration should make it a priority to seek Senate ratification of UNCLOS. Centering US policy toward the South China Sea on a rules-based order has proved correct. The contradiction, if not hypocrisy, of the US insistence that China abide by the Convention while the US refuses to accede to it is evident, and undermines US moral authority. If the principles and practices embodied in UNCLOS are critical to American interests, then the US should ratify the Treaty. Now that the ruling has been issued, the South China Sea disputes will enter a new phase that contains both challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum meetings and the G20 Summit in September, which Xi Jinping is hosting and wants to be a resounding success, provides a respite. The US, Australia, and other like-minded countries should actively seek to use the next few months to help facilitate a shift in Chinese policy toward the South China Sea that is based on accommodation with its neighbors and conformity with international law.”


Posted by Alex Gray | July 15, 2016

China Vows 'Decisive Response' To South China Sea Provocations. ChannelNews Asia. “China warned Thursday of a "decisive response" to provocations in the South China Sea, as it faced mounting pressure to accept an international tribunal's ruling against its claims to most of the strategically vital waters. The Philippines, which launched the legal challenge, called for China to respect the decision and defied Chinese objections by saying it would raise the issue at a summit of Asian and European leaders in Mongolia starting on Friday. China, which had already vowed to ignore Tuesday's verdict by the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague, responded with another firm warning that it was in no mood to back down. "If anyone wants to take any provocative action against China's security interests based on the award, China will make a decisive response," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. China claims nearly all of the sea - which is of immense military importance and through which about US$5 trillion worth of shipping trade passes annually - even waters approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations. China justifies its claims by saying it was the first to have discovered, named and exploited the sea, and outlines its territory using a vague map made up of nine dashes that emerged in the 1940s. However the tribunal sided with the Philippines in ruling China's claimed historic rights to resources within the nine-dash map had no legal basis. It also declared that China had acted unlawfully by violating the Philippines' sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone - waters extending 200 nautical miles from the Filipino coast. China had done so by interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration within the exclusive zone, as well as by building artificial islands there. China has in recent years undertaken giant land reclamation works in the Spratlys archipelago, one of the biggest island groups in the sea which partly falls within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. The United States and Australia were among Philippine allies this week to quickly call on China to respect the ruling, pointing out it was legally binding. The Philippines had initially refrained from asking China to abide by the verdict - in line with new President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to achieve a "soft landing" with Beijing on the issue. The Philippines filed the legal challenge against China in 2013 under Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino. Relations between Beijing and Manila plummeted over the row. Duterte, who took office on Jun 30, has said he wants better relations with China and to attract Chinese investment for major infrastructure projects. Unlike Aquino, Duterte has said he wants to talk directly with China over the issue. Beijing also wants to negotiate, but at the same time insists it will never concede on sovereignty. But the Philippines hardened its stance Thursday with a statement detailing Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay's priorities when he attends a two-day Asia-Europe summit, known as ASEM, in Mongolia along with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. "Secretary Yasay will discuss within the context of ASEM's agenda the Philippines' peaceful and rules-based approach on the South China Sea and the need for parties to respect the recent decision," the foreign affairs department said in a statement. Even just raising the issue at the summit would anger China, which has long bridled at Philippine efforts to have the dispute discussed at multilateral events. Chinese assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou insisted on Monday the ASEM meeting was "not an appropriate venue" to discuss the South China Sea. But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said Thursday as he left for Mongolia that he wanted the sea to be discussed at the summit. Vietnam, another claimant in the sea, added to the pressure on Beijing. "Vietnam asks China to immediately end moves that violate Vietnam's sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh told reporters in Hanoi. The Chinese government and state media have this week unleashed a tirade of vitriol against the tribunal, and vowed never to give up claims to the sea. "Do not turn the South China Sea into a cradle of war," vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday in a warning to rivals. He also said China may introduce an air defence zone over the sea, which would give its military authority over foreign aircraft, depending on the "threat" level. China and the United States, which insists it must help ensure freedom of navigation in the sea, had already deployed significant naval firepower into the disputed waters ahead of the verdict. Taiwan, which has a very similar claim to the waters as China, sent a warship into the waters on Wednesday to protect its interests.”

Judge Selection Was Fair, Japan’s Yanai Insists To Critical China. Suzuki Akiko, Asahi. “A former Japanese diplomat has rebuffed China’s claim that he was biased in his selection of judges at the international tribunal that ruled against China’s claims in the South China Sea on July 12. “I selected the judges fairly based on the procedures stipulated under a treaty,” Shunji Yanai told Asahi on July 14. After the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague made the ruling, China said that four of the five judges who made the decision were selected by Yanai, who was the president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at the time of the appointments. Mentioning Yanai by name, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said: “He influenced the process of court procedures.” However, Yanai rejected Liu’s view. According to Yanai, the two parties in the dispute can select one judge each. The Philippines, which filed the suit with the court, selected a German judge. However, China did not exercise its right to choose a judge. Consequently, based on the stipulations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Yanai appointed a Polish judge. Yanai said that he made the selection on the grounds that “the judge is neither a citizen in the countries of the dispute nor a citizen in countries related to the dispute and therefore is in a neutral position.” The remaining three judges should have been selected by the Philippines and China through bilateral talks, but China did not take part in them. Because of that, based on the stipulations, Yanai appointed judges from France, the Netherlands and Ghana. “I chose fair and sincere people who were capable lawyers and have knowledge on the law of the sea,” Yanai said.”

China Has Been Killing Turtles, Coral And Giant Clams In The South China Sea, Tribunal Finds. Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times. “China struck back loudly and forcefully Wednesday after an international tribunal invalidated many of its claims in the South China Sea. But Beijing largely has been silent about some of the tribunal’s most damning findings: that its activities there have “caused devastating and long-lasting damage to the environment.” The Permanent Court of Arbitration investigated the Philippines’ claims that China has been doing grave harm to the region’s ecology, in violation of its commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The panel of five judges consulted numerous experts, and what they found shocked even them, the tribunal wrote in its final ruling of more than 500 pages. Damage to the coral reefs in the Greater Spratly Islands spread for 48 square miles, and China was responsible for 99% of that, they said. The tribunal found that China not only failed to prevent Chinese fishing boats from harvesting endangered species, including sea turtles, but also provided armed protection for those vessels. And it concluded that China was “fully aware of” and “actively tolerated” a practice called propeller chopping to harvest endangered giant clams — an activity that kills coral reefs. The South China Sea is one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions — home to 76% of the coral species and 37% of the reef fish in the world. Because coral reefs provide crucial habitats for fish and fish larvae, widespread loss can have a major economic and social effect. Professor John McManus of the National Center for Coral Reef Research at the University of Miami, one of the experts the panel referred to, called on China and other countries in the region that have been fighting for years over territory in the South China Sea to set aside their differences and declare the region an international protected zone, the way Antarctica is managed. “If we don’t do this, we are headed toward a major, major fisheries collapse in a part of the world where [that] will lead to mass starvation,” he warned in remarks Tuesday to a panel in Washington organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He noted that such a collapse would hurt not just China but also many countries in the region. “Talk about military instability,” he said. Although some of the damage was caused by dredging and island-building, the majority was blamed on the giant-clam harvesting using propellers. Mc-Manus called the practice “more thoroughly damaging to marine life than anything he had seen in four decades of investigating coral reef degradation,” the tribunal noted. Many of the clam shells are taken to the Chinese island of Hainan, where they are carved into decorative items and sold to tourists. “There is no hope for many of these reefs to recover in the coming decades or centuries,” Kent Carpenter, a professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia and another coral expert consulted by the tribunal, said Wednesday from the Philippines, where he’s on a research trip. “China is trying to solidify its claims, and they obviously have decided not to worry about the environmental aspects.... The environment there is now just written off.” China issued a white paper Wednesday in response to the tribunal’s ruling, but it did almost nothing to rebut the tribunal’s findings on the environmental issues. Before the court’s ruling, the state-run China Daily newspaper ran a commentary Tuesday saying that “some countries slander that China developing the South China Sea islands and reefs has caused extensive damage of coral reefs. On the contrary, the truth is, China insisted on developing ‘green engineering and ecology reefs’ as the concept of environmental protection.” The newspaper claimed that China had “conducted thorough in-depth research” and “applied dynamic protective measures during the whole process, to complete projects as well as achieve environment protection, to accomplish sustainable development” in the area. “After China completes the construction activities, it will greatly enhance the reefs’ environmental protection capability,” the paper added. “These practices can stand the test of time.” China refused to participate in the tribunal’s proceedings and did not respond to requests from the court to provide evidence of its efforts to protect the environment in the South China Sea or proof that it had conducted an environmental impact assessment — as required not only by the U.N. convention but also Chinese laws. Dan Liu, a researcher at the Center for Polar and Deep Ocean Development at Shanghai Communications University, told the panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the Philippine claims were “some kind of political mask” and questioned how the experts could evaluate the reefs unless they visited them personally — something nearly impossible given China’s non-cooperation with the tribunal. But Carpenter said that satellite imagery and other available data made assessments relatively straightforward. The tribunal said that it and the experts it consulted found many of China’s public statements about its environmental stewardship in the South China Sea to be “contradicted by the facts” and that Beijing’s assessments of the effect of its construction was “largely in disagreement with the available information.” Ashley Townsend, a visiting fellow at the Center for Asia-Pacific Cooperation and Governance at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the tribunal’s strong language on the environmental effect of China’s activities could shift the political dynamics, which until now have been dominated by strategic, military and economic concerns. “Environmental degradation and depletion of endangered species by Chinese activities and island construction ... essentially has been a background story to what’s been happening in the South China Sea,” he said. “Now there is a strong legal grounding” to criticize China on its environmental stewardship and open a “second front.” “There’s a capacity to ... leverage global environmental activist networks to make this not just an issue about sovereignty and geopolitics but about the health and well-being of the global commons,” he said. “That’s more likely under the ruling.”

China White Paper On South China Sea. China Daily. “The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Wednesday published a white paper titled "China Adheres to the Position of Settling Through Negotiation the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea."

China Media Again Touts Plans To Float Nuclear Reactors In Disputed South China Sea. Kathy Chen and David Stanway, Reuters. “China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote development in the South China Sea, state media said again on Friday, days after an international court ruled Beijing had no historic claims to most of the waters. Sovereignty over the South China Sea is contested by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and any move to build nuclear reactors is bound to stoke further tension in the region. The China Securities Journal said 20 offshore nuclear platforms could eventually be built in the region as the country seeks to "speed up the commercial development" of the South China Sea. "China's first floating nuclear reactor will be assembled by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation's (CSIC) subsidiary, Bohai Heavy Industry, and the company will build 20 such reactors in the future," the newspaper said. "The marine nuclear power platform will provide energy and freshwater to the Nansha Islands," it said, referring to the disputed Spratly Islands. The newspaper was citing a social media post by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), which has since been deleted. The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, announced similar news in April and said the nuclear power platforms could "sail" to remote areas and provide a stable power supply. "The news is old," an expert with the China Nuclear Energy Association said. "It is repeated in reaction to the latest South China Sea disputes," the expert, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. "Little progress has been made on building such a small reactor." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked at a daily news briefing, said he did not know anything about the plans. Floating reactors were first proposed in the United States in the 1970s but then abandoned. The first demonstration of the technology is due to be launched in Russia next year. "This will need several years of design and safety analysis before it can go into full construction," said Li Ning, Dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University. China's claims over around 85 percent of the South China Sea, swept by frequent typhoons in the summer months, were declared unlawful by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Tuesday, a decision that Beijing has rejected. A spokesman for CNNC told Reuters the floating reactors plan had been drawn up by its affiliate, the Nuclear Power Institute of China, and a final decision would be made by CSIC. CSIC was not immediately available for comment.”

CNO Richardson Heading To China. Sam LaGrone, USNI News. “The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations is headed to Beijing next week to meet his Chinese counterpart, a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday. Adm. John Richardson will spend three days in China starting on July 17, will meet with his People’s Liberation Army Navy counterpart Adm. Wu Shengli, tour the PLAN’s submarine academy and its lone carrier Liaoning, according to a release from the service. It will be Richardson’s first trip to China since becoming CNO. His predecessor – retired Adm. Jonathan Greenert – met with Wu several times during his tenure and developed a close working relationship. “I have been looking forward to this trip and to meeting Admiral Wu for some time,” Richardson in a statement. “These are important times for our two navies and for maritime forces throughout the region. As we seek to learn from each other, there is no substitute for these types of face-to-face meetings.” Richardson’s visit will come a week after an international tribunal issued a ruling that invalidated many of Beijing’s claims to extensive holdings in the South China Sea – a ruling Chinese leadership said they would not recognize. According to the service, South China Sea issues will be a topic of conversation between Richardson and Wu. While the rhetoric between Washington and Beijing over Chinese actions in the South China Sea have been high, the tenor of the military-to-military interaction between the PLAN and the U.S. Navy is mostly professional, USNI News understands. Wu and Richadson have held three video teleconferences since Richardson took the CNO position in September. During the last conversation in January, Wu outlined the Chinese position on installations built on artificial island in the South China Sea. “Our necessary defensive step of building on islands and reefs in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands is not militarization, but this has been maliciously hyped up by certain countries and media,” Wu said during the teleconference, as reported by newswire Reuters at the time. “We will certainly not seek the militarization of the islands and reefs, but we won’t not set up defenses. How many defenses completely depends on the level of threat we face.” The following is the July 14, 2016 statement from the Navy on CNO Richardson’s trip to China.”

As China’s Economy Slows, Beijing’s Growth Push Loses Punch. Neil Gough and Owen Guo, The New York Times. “Mo Ping for years made his living by tending the mango and jujube trees that he grew on less than an acre on this tip of land in the far south of China. Then last year Mr. Mo and others in his village near the city of Leizhou received what they considered a lowball offer to sell their land to make way for a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant. Most rejected it, but the local government sent in bulldozers anyway. “There were several hundred police on the scene, and they wouldn’t allow us to get anywhere near the farm,” said Mr. Mo, a 51-year-old with dirt caked under his close-trimmed fingernails. “My heart ached and I cried because I was really upset.” The coal plant is part of a huge and expensive government push to reinvigorate the Chinese economy. Officials have fast-tracked the plant in recent months along with scores of bridges, railways, factories and other construction projects to counter an economic slowdown. China on Friday reported that its economy grew 6.7 percent in the quarter ended in June compared with a year ago, a level that matches the slowest pace since the global financial crisis. Such revival efforts have worked before. Seven years ago, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, China unleashed a lending-and-spending binge that spared the country the painful recessions that struck the United States and Europe. But times have changed, economists say. With China’s debt levels mounting and its industries plagued with unneeded factories, China’s traditional tactics don’t pack the same punch. Instead of new growth, “we’re going to continue to see a rise in debt levels, and credit not really having the impact that it could to support the economy,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics. Late last year, as China’s economy slowed, officials ramped up project approvals to stir up more economic activity. At the same time, the country unleashed a lending spree through its state-controlled banks. Credit in China is now growing four times as fast as the broader economy, estimates George Magnus, an associate at the China Center at Oxford University and a senior adviser at UBS, the Swiss bank. But thanks in part to the post-crisis stimulus effort, China’s corporate debt now amounts to 160 percent of its economic output and is growing fast, according to a recent International Monetary Fund report. With so much debt on their books, Chinese companies are less able to spend on new projects, even with generous government aid, because they face large outlays for interest costs. After the financial crisis, as now, a lot of the government money went into areas where China already has too many idle or underused factories, like steel, manufacturing and coal-fired power plants. “Credit creation is driving a rising misallocation of resources,” Mr. Magnus said. The Leizhou plant is one of scores of new coal-fired plants being built across China, representing about 200 gigawatts of generating capacity, according to estimates from Greenpeace, or about twice the total capacity of Britain. Coal-fired power plants, in particular, look increasingly unnecessary. Last year, China’s coal plants — which generally aim to operate an average of about 5,500 hours per year — operated at an average of about 4,300 hours, according to Alvin Cheng and Jenny Huang, energy analysts at Fitch Ratings. Fitch expects average use to fall to fewer than 3,600 hours by next year. Beijing, worried about waste and the country’s pernicious pollution problems, in April published guidelines that would halt approvals for new coal-fired plants in many areas of the country. But that ban would not apply to projects already under construction, like the plant in Leizhou. “There’s so much overcapacity, there is no point in building a plant like this,” Lin Boqiang, an energy expert at Xiamen University, said in a telephone interview. “This would be a waste of investment,” he added. “It’s as simple as this.” Built by an arm of the state-run company China Datang Corporation, the Leizhou plant will be able to produce up to 2 gigawatts of power — more than the total coal-fired power generation capacity installed in the state of New York. Datang had been trying to build the plant for a decade but started construction in earnest only in December, after receiving final approval around the time that many other infrastructure projects around China were getting the green light or expedited. Officials said antipollution equipment will make it a “near zero emission” plant that will be “internationally advanced.” It will also, they say, help the local economy. The plant will “kick off a big industry era locally,” said Liu Xiaohua, a local Communist Party secretary, at a ceremony in December. (Mr. Liu has since committed suicide, according to Chinese state media. There is no evidence that his suicide was connected to the plant or his work in Zhanjiang, which includes Leizhou in its jurisdiction.) Local officials and Datang executives did not respond to requests for comment. Leizhou is one of the poorer places in Guangdong Province, according to official data. Industry is scant here, although the province includes one of China’s main manufacturing hubs. In Leizhou’s main urban area, giant billboards tower over street intersections warning against the dangers of taking drugs — locals say methamphetamine and ketamine are most common. Mr. Mo is one of hundreds of villagers who say their livelihoods and the local environment are at risk. For generations, people in villages here along the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin have lived off the land and the sea, farming, fishing and processing sea salt. The ample summer rains and subtropical climate lend themselves to growing fruit. Some residents are skeptical that the plant will bring jobs for locals, saying that most likely it will import workers from other areas.”

Philippines' Official Hails South China Sea Ruling A 'Crowning Glory.' Neil Jerome Morales and Ben Blanchard, Reuters. “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday that his country should stop interfering and hyping up the South China Sea issue, as the dispute took center stage at a key regional summit in Mongolia. China has refused to recognize Tuesday's ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague invalidating China's vast claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings. It has reacted angrily to calls by Western countries and Japan for the decision to be adhered to. Meeting in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, Li told Abe that China's stance on the South China Sea was completely in line with international law, state news agency Xinhua reported. "Japan is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue, and thus should exercise caution in its own words and deeds, and stop hyping up and interfering", Li said, according to Xinhua. Japan's Kyodo news agency said Abe told Li that a rules-based international order must be respected. The agency also said Abe and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had agreed the ruling must be observed. Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Yasuhisa Kawamura said Abe "reiterated the fundamental positions regarding the South China Sea" in his meeting with Li. "The situation of the South China Sea is the concern of the international community. The tribunal award of 12 July is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute," Kawamura told reporters. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims. Speaking at the meeting of Asian and European officials in Mongolia, Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said Manila "strongly affirms its respect for the milestone decision" while reiterating his call for "restraint and sobriety". China's Foreign Ministry on Friday said Beijing's position on the case had the support of Laos, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional bloc long dogged by discord over how to deal with China's maritime assertiveness. The verdict was discussed on Thursday between Li and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ahead a regional summit in Mongolia. "Thongloun said that Laos supports China's position, and is willing to work with China to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region," the ministry said in a statement. The statement did not elaborate. Laos' foreign ministry did not responded to Reuters' request for comment and its state media made no mention of Thongloun's comments to Li. Land-locked Laos, which is boosting economic ties with China, will be hosting a security meeting later this month at which the South China Sea is expected to dominate. ASEAN has not issued a statement about the ruling and its members have not said why. China's Foreign Ministry later said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had told Li that Cambodia would uphold a "fair and objective stance" on the South China Sea issue and work to maintain friendly China-ASEAN relations, according to a statement. Asked about Cambodia's position, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn told Reuters: "We are not involved in this arbitration case and just wish to stand by our policy of neutrality." The court decision invalidating China's claims was a "crowning glory" that renews faith in international law, the Philippines' top lawyer said on Friday, in Manila's strongest comment yet on its sweeping win. The remarks by Solicitor General Jose Calida follow two days of carefully calibrated responses from the Philippines and are almost certain to irritate China further. Manila has so far been keen not to rock the boat in the hope of starting dialogue toward Beijing allowing it to exercise what the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled were its sovereign maritime rights. "It confirms that no one state can claim virtually an entire sea. The award is a historic win not only for the Philippines ... it renews humanity's faith in a rules based global order," Calida told a forum. "The award opens a horizon of possibilities for all stakeholders. The award is a crowning glory of international law." China has previously said it has widespread support for its rejection of the case but many countries have stuck to cautious comments about resolving disputes peacefully and respecting international laws. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ended his unusual silence at a private function late on Thursday and said he wanted dialogue with China and was considering sending former President Fidel Ramos to Beijing to get the ball rolling. "War is not an option," he said. "So, what is the other side? - Peaceful talk." Immediately after the ruling, the normally brash and outspoken Duterte privately told his ministers to be magnanimous and not to pique Beijing, according to one minister. But the cautious tone appears to be changing in the Philippines, where there are signs of public disgruntlement with the subdued government response to a decision that most of the country was celebrating. The United States, a key Philippines' ally, is urging Asian nations not to move aggressively to capitalize on the court ruling, according to U.S. administration officials. The chief of its naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, will discuss the South China Sea among other issues when he meets China's navy commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, from Sunday on a three-day trip to "improve mutual understanding", according to a U.S. Navy statement. Chinese state media on Friday reported again that China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote development in the South China Sea. Experts said little progress had been made on the plan, which would likely stoke further tensions.”

Did China Just Clarify The Nine-Dash Line? Andrew Chubb, East Asia Forum. “Beneath its surface-level bluster, China’s authoritative response to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration this week contained welcome hints that China may be subtly, and under cover of a strong stance on its South China Sea territorial sovereignty, bringing its South China Sea maritime rights claims into line with UNCLOS. The statement of the Chinese government, released in direct response to the arbitration, strongly implied that China does not in fact claim historic rights over the whole area of the nine-dash line. This expansionist reading of the nine-dash line was never an official policy position. But it has underpinned a great deal of the most worrying Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea, especially its program of patrols and coercive actions along the outer edge of the nine-dash line. The statement contained five numbered points, each explaining a different aspect of China’s position. It restated China’s historical claim to territorial sovereignty and ‘relevant rights and interests’ over islands in the SCS, and reemphasized the government’s actions to uphold said sovereign rights and interests since 1949. China also identified four elements of China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea: sovereignty over islands together with the internal waters, territorial seas and contiguous zones based on the Spratlys, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf rights based on the Spratlys, and other historic rights. The statement reiterated China’s opposition to other countries’ occupation of some of the Spratlys, but voiced China’s commitment to freedom of navigation for international shipping. This was probably the most comprehensive encapsulation of China’s claims ever made in an official document. None of the elements are new, but they have never appeared side-by-side in one document before. The claim to ‘historic rights’, for example, is included in China’s 1998 EEZ and Continental Shelf law, but that document does not refer to the nine-dash line. A diplomatic note to the UN in 2009 included the nine-dash-line map for the first time officially, but didn’t mention historic rights. And another 2011 note to the UN specified that the Spratlys were entitled to an EEZ and continental shelf, but didn’t include the nine-dash-line map or ‘historic rights’. The nine-dash line, according to the new statement, was created to ‘to strengthen the administration over’ the Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea. It makes no mention of ‘historic rights’. The omission of a link between the nine-dash line and China’s ‘historic rights’ wouldn’t on its own mean much if they weren’t mentioned elsewhere in the statement. But they are: they are on the list of four elements that comprise China’s maritime claims, where they are once again listed separately from the territorial claims represented by the nine-dash line. By referring to the nine-dash-line map as evidence of China’s territorial sovereignty over islands — but not linking it to the EEZ, continental shelf and ‘historic rights’ it also discussed — the statement effectively decoupled the map from China’s maritime rights claims in the area. The implicit link between the two was the basis of one of the tribunal’s major findings against China. China’s White Paper on the South China Sea dispute released on the same day provides another authoritative, and even more detailed, statement of China’s claims in the South China Sea. Perhaps its greatest significance is found in an extremely subtle piece of language: the designation of Nanhai Zhudao as the source of China’s EEZ and continental shelf claims. This phrase, meaning ‘various islands of the South China Sea’ in Mandarin, was rendered in pinyin, rather than translated, in the English version. The background is crucial. China explicitly claimed in a 2011 diplomatic note to the UN that the Nansha Qundao — that is, the Spratlys — are ‘fully entitled’ to an EEZ and continental shelf. The White Paper does not repeat this claim, instead citing Nanhai Zhudao, the collective term for all of China’s claimed offshore islands in the area, as the basis of its EEZ and continental shelf claims. This tiny tweak allows for a reading of China’s position that does not contradict the Tribunal’s finding that the Spratly Islands are rocks: the Nansha Zhudao include the Paracel Islands and also the Pratas Islands, whose island or rock status the tribunal did not rule on. Woody Island, the largest of the Paracels, is about 4–5 times bigger than Itu Aba, the biggest Spratly, as well as being located much closer to both Chinese and Vietnamese coastlines. For that reason it has probably been subject to a much more intensive human presence historically. It therefore stands a much better chance of avoiding the ‘rock incapable of sustaining human habitation’ designation, and sustaining an EEZ and continental shelf claim. So even as the Party-state condemns the ruling as a ‘farce’ and loudly proclaims China’s non-acceptance, non-compliance and non-implementation, these subtle clarifications raise the possibility of a Chinese maritime rights claim in the South China Sea that looks something more like the UNCLOS-compliant one illustrated above. Of course, this doesn’t imply they are going to start drawing new lines on maps to make all these suggestions explicit — more likely, they’ll want to avoid precisely that kind of visual depictions of a backdown. Chinese public opinion seems generally unaware of (and probably uninterested in) the distinction between sovereignty and maritime rights. But the distinction is crucial because it’s overwhelmingly the enforcement of China’s maritime rights claims — not its territorial sovereignty claims — that have caused so much tension and concern since 2007. So far major Chinese news portals have all led with variations of the headline: ‘Xi Jinping says South China Sea Islands have always belonged to China’ — a statement that the UNCLOS-mandated tribunal did not in any way challenge. Driving attention towards this tough-sounding stance on territorial sovereignty provides good political cover for the quiet clarification of China’s maritime rights claims that may be underway.”


Posted by Alex Gray | July 14, 2016

The South China Sea Arbitration Decision: China Fought the Law, And The Law Won….Or Did It? Jacques deLisle, Foreign Policy Research Institute. “When the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague issued its unanimous decision on July 12 in the case that the Philippines had filed against the People’s Republic of China two and a half years earlier, the Court set forth: a stunning repudiation of several of China’s key legal arguments and much of its real-world behavior in the disputed South China Sea; a remarkable affirmation of the core elements of US policy and strategy toward the contested maritime region and China’s claims and actions therein; and a striking assertion of the reach and capacity of international law and formal dispute resolution procedures. Yet, as with so much else concerning the South China Sea, China’s relations with its neighbors, US policy toward China, and international law, the implications of the decision are a good deal more ambiguous and ambivalent. In the aftermath of the decision, China is faced with difficult choices, the US with complex dilemmas, and international law with substantial peril. While most observers expected a significant partial victory for the Philippines, the scope and the sweeping rejection of China’s positions were a surprise. Where the Court initially had found jurisdiction over seven of the Philippines’ claims and reserved judgment on jurisdiction over seven others (and required further briefing on one other), the Court’s final decision asserted jurisdiction over all of the Philippines’ diverse and wide-ranging claims. In doing so, the Court accepted the Philippines’ artful pleading and rejected China’s contrary analysis. It was not persuaded by China’s arguments that various claims would require the Court to resolve questions of sovereignty over contested landforms (an issue that clearly falls outside the ambit of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and which provided the basis for the Court’s authority). The Court was equally unmoved by China’s assertions that ruling on the Philippines’ claims would require the tribunal to decide three types of issues that had been placed beyond the Court’s reach by a lawful reservation China had imposed as a condition of subjecting itself to UNCLOS and its dispute resolution procedures: delimiting potentially overlapping maritime zones between China and the Philippines  (of which there were none, given the Court’s finding on the merits that the relevant landforms claimed by China were too insignificant to generate zones large enough to overlap significantly with the Philippines’ maritime zones); passing judgment on military activities (a category that the Court found did not include China's moves to build up landforms into areas with harbors and airstrips used by elements of the Chinese armed forces), or deciding on claims of historic title (given the Court’s conclusion that the type of history-based rights asserted by China were not recognized under the relevant law of the sea).The Court also refused to accept China’s alternative argument that the Philippines was bound by what China claimed was an agreement that informal bilateral negotiations were to be the exclusive means by which the two parties would address their dispute. On the merits of Beijing’s claims to maritime rights in South China Sea areas near the Philippines, China’s defeat was more jarring. The Court declared several of the disputed landforms—including ones on which China had undertaken massive land reclamation and construction of facilities for military use—to be merely low tide elevations (LTE) and thus not entitled to any maritime zone of their own (although some were located close enough to larger landforms to permit a modest extension of maritime zones derived from the latter). The Court concluded that other maritime features were merely rocks (naturally occurring landforms that were above water at high tide), which—even if under Chinese sovereignty—could provide the basis for nothing more than a twelve nautical-mile-wide territorial sea. Such sea areas are far more modest than the vast expanse inside the convex 9-dash line that Beijing has long claimed (albeit with ambiguous and weak legal basis) to mark the extent of its sovereign rights over the bulk of the South China Sea. These conclusions entailed and required one of the more unexpected and controversial determinations reached by the Court: Even Taiping Island / Itu Aba—the most substantial of the naturally occurring landforms in the area—failed (like all the other relevant land forms) to qualify as an island capable of supporting an economic life of its own or human habitation and, therefore, to provide the basis for an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of up to 200 nautical miles. This decision about Taiping Island is especially fraught, for at least a few reasons. First, Taiping Island is the landform that could most plausibly ground a claim that China (or whichever state other than the Philippines held sovereignty over the island) had maritime entitlements reaching significantly into the areas that the Philippines asserted to the tribunal were part of the Philippines’ EEZ or continental shelf. Second, Taiping Island is the one South China Sea landform controlled by Taiwan, and Taiwan—which was barred from the proceedings because its own disputed international legal status has left it unable to join the UNCLOS regime and participate in its dispute resolution institutions—had submitted an unsolicited amicus curiae brief to the Court that argued strongly for a key position that Beijing (which derives many of its claims from pre-1949 Republic of China claims) and Taipei (as the guardian of the original ROC claims) share: Taiping Island is entitled to full, EEZ-generating status. Thus, the often contentious issues of cross-Strait relations and Taiwan’s state-like status (or lack thereof) were implicated as well. Third, the Court’s decision concerning the application of UNCLOS’s vague language to the facts of Taiping Island at least implies a more general legal interpretation—a precedent in a previously extremely sparse area of law—that casts greater doubt on the status of other, somewhat similar landforms that have been relied upon as bases for disputed or potentially disputed maritime claims around the world. In another of its most striking and not so widely expected decisions, the Court rejected expansive or assertive PRC interpretations of the notorious 9-dash line.  The tribunal declared that China’s claims to maritime areas within the 9-dash line are unlawful to the extent that they are claims of “historic rights” or other “sovereign rights” or purport to have any other basis outside of the ordinary UNCLOS provisions (essentially, territorial sea or EEZ rights based on landforms). And the relevant landforms, in the geographical context of the South China Sea as evaluated by the Court, are mere rocks and LTEs that cannot collectively sustain claims to rights over much of the sea zone enclosed by the 9-dash line. What all of this amounts to is a determination that the South China Sea area that was the object of the Philippines’ arbitration claim is entirely (or almost entirely) part of the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf. This, in turn, means—as the Court further found—that many of the controversial actions that China has undertaken, encouraged, or failed to prevent in areas of the South China Sea near the Philippines are improper under the law of the sea and violate the Philippines’ rights and China’s obligations under UNCLOS. This now-declared-unlawful behavior includes: China’s interference (through dispatch of Coast Guard vessels, imposition of fishing regulations and so on) with the Philippines’ exclusive right to control the exploitation of the natural resources of its EEZ and Continental Shelf; China’s failure to take required steps to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from exploiting resources within the Philippines’ EEZ without the Philippines’ permission; China’s interference, after it took control of the area around Scarborough Shoal in 2012, with Filipinos’ exercise of their legally valid “traditional” fishing rights; China’s impermissible destruction or toleration of impermissible destruction of the marine environment in the Philippines’ zones, including through extensive harvesting of endangered species. China’s partly military-use-related land reclamation activities also drew condemnation from the Court. Here, the offenses included, in essence: severe physical destruction of resources that the Philippines was entitled to control; destruction of evidence of the natural condition of landforms, complicating the task of evaluating such landforms’ legal status and, thus, their capacity to provide a basis for lawful claims to maritime zones and related rights; and taking steps (including ones after the case was already pending) that aggravated the dispute between the parties and could impede the execution of an eventual decision by the Court. he sweepingly adverse and unanimous decision puts China to a newly acute set of choices. Beijing can continue its already adumbrated policy of “four noes” toward the Court and its process and verdict: no participation, no acceptance, no recognition, and no enforcement. China can continue to assert that the Court lacked jurisdiction (because issues of territorial sovereignty, maritime zone delimitation, military activities, or historic rights—as defined eccentrically and expansively by China—were involved, or because the Philippines had ostensibly agreed to an alternative method of dispute resolution). The PRC can continue to insist that the views of the content of relevant international law adopted by the tribunal and applied to the facts of the case are simply wrong as a matter of law, and that China’s conflicting interpretations—some of which had support from some other states—are correct. PRC sources can continue to assert or imply that the tribunal was biased. Beijing can continue to undertake or permit—and expand or escalate—the activities that the Court condemned as unlawful in the South China Sea areas near the Philippines. In the run-up to the decision and in its immediate aftermath, this seemed to be a major component of China’s approach. But the meaning and implications of such statements and actions have changed in light of the decision. If China’s approach remains relatively unchanged, it will have doubled down on a posture that had already spawned charges that Beijing was being an international scofflaw and revisionist in its approach to major components of the international legal order. Where Beijing previously could claim it was taking one side in debates over the meaning and application of vague or contested principles of international law, it now must reject an authoritative determination by a major international tribunal. Where the PRC could until recently hope for a mixed verdict from a divided tribunal that could lend credence to post-decision arguments that the issues were close ones and still subject to reasoned disagreement, debate, and challenge, China now had to reject a clear and strong decision nearly in its entirety. Where China might earlier have expected that its uncompromising refusal to participate in the process—even in the very limited and segregable form of appearing to contest the tribunal’s jurisdiction—would undermine the legitimacy of any subsequent decision on the merits, that line of argument now has to coexist with the related counterargument that China was showing itself to be contemptuous of international legal procedures from soup (determining jurisdiction) to nuts (implementing or enforcing a final judgment). And China was taking this stance toward a dispute resolution process to which it had consented—at least in a “wholesale” way—as a party to UNCLOS. It remains possible—and it is to be hoped—that after some initial period of surely strident and likely ardently nationalist reaction, the leadership in Beijing will find it prudent not to make this high-stakes “double or nothing” bet. China still could—and for its own interests and broader regional and international interests should—refrain from a range of provocative and destabilizing activities such as stepping up land reclamation or patrol activities, declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone over the South China Sea, dislodging Filipinos from landforms on which they are stationed, or confronting, in a more threatening or risky way, the United States Navy when the latter engages in operations in the areas the Court has awarded to the Philippines. Further, China might take the outcome of the arbitration and the advent of the newly hard or risky choices it faces—as a reason and an opportunity to turn the page. Beijing might reinvigorate efforts to set aside sovereignty questions and seek cooperation on concrete issues with the Philippines and with the other rival claimant states that are surely contemplating what bringing arbitration claims might now do for them.”

Why The U.S. Should Ratify The Law Of The Sea Treaty. Bonnie Glaser, The Cipher Brief. “Although the United States participated in the negotiations that culminated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in 1994, it has not yet ratified the treaty. While it is true that the U.S. recognizes UNCLOS as a codification of customary international law, failure to become a signatory to the Treaty is increasingly harmful to American political, military, and economic interests. UNCLOS provides a legal framework for governing navigation on the sea and use of ocean resources. With the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world that contains 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean, the United States can reap advantages by becoming a signatory. Joining the Convention would enable the U.S. to safeguard its claim to an extended continental shelf (ECS) of over one million square kilometers—an area approximately twice the size of California. International recognition of both its EEZ and ECS would secure U.S. sovereign rights to fishing, mineral, and hydrocarbon resources in those waters. It would also provide legal protection to American companies that seek to invest in deep seabed mining, telecommunications operations, and commercial shipping lanes in the Arctic. By joining the Convention, the U.S. will be better positioned to respond to Russian efforts to exert influence over the new passage that is opening in the Arctic as the ice melts, which will provide a maritime trade route that shortens transit to Asia by over 30 days. Assuming a seat at the UNCLOS table will allow the U.S. to have a voice in establishing ground rules for how the Arctic Ocean will be governed. Ratification benefits the United States militarily as well. The U.S. Navy has long supported and adhered to the treaty, because it preserves navigation and overflight rights and high seas freedoms for its fleet, which remains the largest in the world. UNCLOS grants the right of innocent passage for all vessels on the high seas, including within other countries’ 12nm territorial sea. The U.S. Freedom of Navigation (FON) program that asserts navigation and overflight rights and freedoms globally, including in the South China Sea, can gain further legitimacy and support if the United States is an UNCLOS signatory. Joining the treaty would enable the United States to participate in dispute resolution mechanisms, including an arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS like the one formed to rule on the Philippines' case against China's nine-dash line claim.The U.S. request to send a delegation to observe the hearing in that case at The Hague was denied because it is not a party to the Convention. As a party to UNCLOS, the U.S. would be able to nominate members to the Law of the Sea Tribunal and the Continental shelf Commission, both of which provide a platform to defend territorial claims and discuss freedom of navigation. The Obama administration has rightfully emphasized the importance of establishing a rules-based international order and shaping norms for managing and resolving territorial disputes. Since treaty provisions can become customary law, the U.S. cannot watch from the sidelines while precedents are established that will affect American interests. Ratifying UNCLOS would bolster American moral authority and legitimacy on international maritime issues at an important time. Doing so would eliminate one of Beijing’s justifications for rejecting the July 12 international Arbitral Tribunal ruling against China’s claims in the South China Sea—that the U.S. is hypocritical since it is not a party to the treaty. Frankly, it also confounds America’s allies that the U.S. calls for all nations to uphold the values, principles, and rules-based order that has produced security, stability, and prosperity for all, but refuses to ratify UNCLOS. The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, noted the cost to America’s reputation in a House Armed Services Committee hearing last February: “I think that in the 21st century our moral standing is affected by the fact that we are not a signatory to UNCLOS.” Becoming a treaty member would help advance U.S. interests in promoting multilateral cooperation on a range of issues globally. For example, it would aid in building coalition partnerships in the Global War on Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative, and help support multinational efforts to combat piracy. Introducing their bipartisan resolution (H. Res. 631) last March, Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK), rightly stated: “As our country continues to challenge excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, or jockey for standing in the increasingly competitive Arctic region, we risk being left on the sidelines during these important negotiations unless we are a party to this agreement.” Arguments against the United States becoming a party to UNCLOS are not persuasive given the evident and rising costs of remaining outside the treaty. Reservations based on the deep seabed mining regime, which was the basis for President Ronald Reagan’s rejection of the treaty in 1982, were addressed by the 1994 revisions made to UNCLOS during the Clinton Administration. Other objections are based on concerns that ratification would expose the U.S. to broad liability for environmental damage in international courts; obligate the U.S. to transfer technology; require the U.S. to transfer royalties to the International Seabed Authority and give the United Nations the ability to impose taxes on U.S. citizens; and damage U.S. national security by restricting the ability of the U.S. to conduct activities such as maritime interdiction operations and gathering maritime intelligence. Treaties by their very nature impose some constraints as part of the process of establishing international norms and rules. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama backed the treaty and urged Senate ratification, to no avail. Supporters of UNCLOS ratification include a broad American constituency composed of the U.S. military as well as actors in the energy, shipping, fishing, shipbuilding, and communication industries, as well as environmental groups. The clear benefits of becoming a party to the treaty outweigh the potential costs. It’s well past time to leave the small group of countries that refuse to join treaty, which includes North Korea, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Venezuela, and side with the 167 countries that are UNCLOS state parties.”

The South China Sea Ruling Is Actually Good for Taiwan. Gerrit van der Wees, The Diplomat. “Many in Taiwan termed the July 12, 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the case of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China “unacceptable” because in passing the Court also decided that Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba is legally not an “island” but a “rock” – and therefore does not generate an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf. However, a closer look shows that the decision by the Court in the longer run will actually turn out to be good for Taiwan. Here are some of the reasons why: First, the Court decided that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided for by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line.” In other words, the nine-dash line has no legal standing under international law. This is of existential importance to Taiwan, as the PRC has even included Taiwan in the area covered by the nine-dash line. The Court has thus rendered China’s claims null and void, which is beneficial for Taiwan and its quest to enhance its international standing. There are those in Taiwan – particularly among the diehards in the right wing of the Kuomintang — who still base the Republic of China territorial claims on the nine-dash line. Suffice it to say that they do not live in reality. The noise from that side of the political spectrum should simply be disregarded. Second, the Court only decided that Itu Aba – and all other features in the Spratlys that protrude above water at high tide — are “rocks” and are therefore not entitled to an EEZ of 200 miles. Under the decision by the Court, Taiwan retains its sovereignty over Itu Aba, including the 12 nm territorial waters zone. Just looking at the map, one gets the idea why the Court made this decision: if Itu Aba – and any other reef or rock feature in the area – would have been declared an island, this would have led to a patchwork of overlapping EEZs with unforeseen complications for a long time to come. As it is, the decisions leads to a number of contiguous 12 nm zones, but such a framework is much easier to handle than a patchwork of EEZs. Such a decision obviously leads to dissatisfaction among the ultra-nationalists of the Kuomintang in Taiwan, but does not entail any “loss” of sovereignty. Taiwan’s sovereignty remains undisturbed and fully intact. What was totally unacceptable in the Court ruling was the reference to “the Taiwan authority of China.” The Presidential Office as well as the Foreign Ministry in Taipei rightly protested against this designation. If the Court had done its homework, it could have easily avoided such blatant error. Also disturbing was the fact that the Court did not consult with Taiwan or invite it to participate in the proceedings, in spite of the fact that Taiwan is a major player in the area, controlling Itu Aba and several features in the Paracel Islands. If there is to be a solution for the complex problem in the South China Sea, it is essential that Taiwan is at the table as a full and equal claimant. So, how does Taiwan proceed? First, it needs to emphasize a peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea through multilateral negotiations, as was done by the Presidential Office in Taipei already. Saber-rattling and sending warships to the region may boost the ego of the ultra-nationalists in Taipei, but would risk serious confrontations with other nations in the region, including China. Second, Taiwan needs to redouble its efforts to engage other nations in the region through bilateral and multilateral contacts, so it could gain a seat at the table in future discussions on how to move forward. If Taiwan wants to achieve this, it needs to follow a reasonable and rational approach that is more in line with the ruling of the Court in The Hague than the initial reactions from Taipei. Third, on Itu Aba itself, life should go on as before. Taiwan is best served by a low-key approach that brings Taiwan closer to its neighbors. Pragmatic and peaceful measures to enhance the benefits of Taiwan’s presence for other nations are key to acceptance by those neighbors. Good medical facilities and adequate emergency relief capabilities at Itu Aba would constitute a non-threatening way to make its presence felt in a positive manner. And last but not least, it is essential that Taiwan avoid any impression that its position is aligned with that of the PRC. If it wants to contribute to peace and stability in the region, there needs to be an increasing distance between Taiwan’s position and the belligerent and irresponsible behavior exhibited by the leaders in Beijing. If it wants to be accepted as a full and equal member in the international community, Taiwan will need to grow closer to like-minded friends and allies in the region – in particular the United States and Japan–and abide by international legal decisions such as the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.”

Beijing Offers To Negotiate In South China Sea Dispute. Jeremy Page and Chun Han Wong, The Wall Street Journal. “China sought to refocus a dispute over the South China Sea on sovereignty over land, rather than historic rights to surrounding waters, after an unfavorable ruling by an international tribunal.  In a detailed response to the verdict in a landmark case brought by the Philippines, China’s cabinet issued a policy paper describing all land features in the area as its “inherent territory” and accusing Manila of illegally occupying some of them. China Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, who introduced the paper, also stepped up a barrage of official Chinese invective against the tribunal, accusing its five arbitrators of being biased, ignorant of Asian culture, and working for the Philippine government. But Mr. Liu added that China remained committed to negotiations with the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, and other governments with competing claims. Beijing’s pairing of harsh rhetoric with offers of talks suggested that while still determined not to comply with the ruling and sensitive to the demands of a nationalistic public, it was wary of escalating a dispute that has already driven some of its neighbors to forge closer defense ties with the U.S.  There was no immediate response to China’s statements Wednesday from Manila or the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The court's tribunal on Tuesday rejected China’s claim to waters within a nine-dash line that Beijing depicts on maps as extending almost to Malaysian Borneo, and to exclusive economic rights around the Spratly Islands. China has vowed not to comply with the ruling. However, there were some signs in the new policy paper that China was seeking to clarify its legal claims, possibly to lay the ground for negotiations with the Philippines and other governments. “The good news is that China is moving towards clarification and reduction of ambiguity,” said Yanmei Xie, senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group. “The bad news is that clarification could also bring calcification of China’s position.” The policy paper spelled out that China claimed sovereignty over all of the Spratlys, the Paracel Islands and two other clusters of islands, rocks and reefs in the South China Sea. Those claims are broadly compatible with the treaty on which the tribunal was based—the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos—as it doesn’t determine sovereignty over land, only rights in surrounding waters. “[President]  Xi Jinping seems to be doubling down on the island sovereignty claim,” said Andrew Chubb, an expert on China’s maritime disputes at the University of Western Australia. “By emphasizing that they are not backing down on sovereignty, it gives them some cover to quietly back away from some of the other implied claims” that would have been incompatible with Unclos. Still, vague language in the policy paper raised fresh questions about China’s claims. The paper made no mention of the nine-dash line but said all “the South China Sea islands” China claims have maritime rights allowed by Unclos—including 12-nautical-mile territorial seas and an exclusive economic zone. However, it defined “the South China Sea islands” as including uninhabited reefs and rocks that don’t qualify for an EEZ under Unclos. It was also unclear whether that meant China claims one all-encompassing EEZ, which would be hard to justify under Unclos. “In addition, China has historic rights in the South China Sea,” the paper added, without defining those rights. Unclos allows countries to claim “traditional fishing rights” in others’ territorial waters. Across the board, Chinese officials struck a note of defiance in the wake of the verdict and depicted China as the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by the U.S. and its treaty ally, the Philippines. Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S., in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, accused the tribunal of “professional incompetence” and “questionable integrity” and said the ruling “will certainly intensify conflict and even confrontation.” Mr. Liu, the vice foreign minister, assailed the tribunal’s composition, saying the five arbitrators—four from Europe and one from Ghana—were unfit to pass an impartial ruling. “Do they understand Asian culture?” Mr. Liu said. “Do they understand Asia’s complex geopolitics?” He directed blame for regional strains toward the U.S., saying tensions had begun around the same time that the administration of President Barack Obama launched its “rebalancing” strategy to focus more military and other resources on the Asia Pacific region. China’s muscle flexing over its national interests has already driven some neighbors away, including ones who have courted warmer ties with Beijing. South Korea, whose president, Park Geun-hye, made a strategic bet on ramping up economic links with China since she took office in 2013, decided last week over Beijing’s objections to let the U.S. place an antiballistic missile system on its territory, a sign of Seoul’s frustration with Chinese policies on North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. Vietnam, a rival to China’s territorial claims, has also honed closer ties with Japan and the U.S. after Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters off its coast in 2014.”

China Threatens To Impose Air Defence Zone On Disputed Area Of South China Sea. Neil Connor, The Guardian. “China raised tensions in the South China Sea on Wednesday by threatening to declare an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over disputed waters where a tribunal has quashed its legal claim. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that China had “no legal basis” for its “nine-dash line”, which lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea. After considering a case brought by the Philippines, the court ruled against China on virtually every substantive point. President Xi Jingping responded by saying that China would “refuse to accept” the decision. On Wednesday, Liu Zhenmin, the vice foreign minister, said: "If our security is being threatened, of course we have the right to demarcate a [air defence identification] zone.” If such an ADIZ were to be imposed, China would require all aircraft entering the designated airspace to identify themselves. China declared an ADIZ over disputed islands in the East China Sea in 2013, escalating tensions with the United States and Japan. America then responded by sending two B52 bombers through the ADIZ, without identifying themselves to China. A new ADIZ in the South China Sea could provoke a similar response. It would also increase tensions not only with the Philippines, but also with other rival claimants in the South China Sea, including Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. The ruling by the court in The Hague provided powerful diplomatic ammunition for China’s Asian rivals in their dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea. As well as declaring that China’s historic claims had no legal standing, the court also denounced the environmental damage inflicted by Beijing’s programme of creating artificial islands in the area. These projects had destroyed coral reefs and disrupted fishing and oil exploration. Nonetheless, Mr Liu insisted that most of the South China Sea, including the Spratly and Paracel island chains, were China’s "inherent territory". He added: "We hope that other countries will not take this opportunity to threaten China and work with China to protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and not let it become the origin of a war.” The court in The Hague has no power to enforce its rulings. But the resounding victory for the Philippines could spur other nations to bring their own cases against China. Arthur Ding, a military expert based at Taiwan’s National Chengchi university, said: “China will be watching closely the reaction of other countries – particularly Vietnam.”

Viral Chinese Video: 'South Sea Arbitration, Who Cares?' “The day that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China had been stealing islands in the South China Sea, the Chinese Communist Party Youth League shared this viral video of young Chinese patriots saying "South Sea arbitration, who cares?" The video is blowing up in China, but it's clearly intended for more than the domestic audience, given that nearly all the words spoken in it are in English. It's also an example of a collapsing online vernacular: the music, editing, and visual elements of this video could have been in an It Gets Better meme or an ALS Icebucket Challenge.”

Indonesia To Deploy F-16 Jet, Drones, Warships Around Natunas After South China Sea Ruling. South China Morning Post. “Indonesia will sharply strengthen security around its South China Sea islands where there have been clashes with Chinese vessels, the defence minister said on Wednesday, a day after Beijing’s claims in the sea were declared invalid. In an interview with AFP, Ryamizard Ryacudu said bolstering defences around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands would involve deploying warships, an F-16 fighter jet, surface-to-air missiles, a radar and drones, as well as constructing new ports and improving an airstrip. The military build-up, which started in recent months, would be completed in “less than a year,” he said. “This will be our eyes and ears,” the retired general said. “So that we can really see what is happening in the Natunas and the surrounding area in the South China Sea.” Unlike several of its Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia has long maintained it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea and does not contest ownership of any territory. But Beijing’s claims overlap Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone – waters where a state has the right to exploit resources – around the Natunas, and there has been an upsurge in clashes between Indonesian patrol and navy boats and Chinese fishing vessels and coastguards. Indonesia has become increasingly irate over Chinese incursions into its waters and after a clash last month, President Joko Widodo visited the Natunas on a warship with his cabinet to send a message to China that Jakarta is serious about defending the remote archipelago. As well as the military hardware, Indonesia will send special air force and marine task forces as well as an army battalion to the Natunas, once barracks and housing have been built, Ryacudu said. He insisted that Indonesia was not adding to the growing militarisation of the South China Sea, and suggested it had a right to defend its borders. “It is our front door, why is it not guarded?” he said. A UN-backed tribunal in The Hague ruled on Tuesday against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, finding in favour of the Philippines which filed the challenge and is a claimant state in the sea disputes. China has responded furiously, warning its rivals Wednesday against turning the sea into a “cradle of war” and threatening an air defence zone there.”

South Korea’s Message To Xi Jinping. Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal. “The United Nations tribunal verdict on the South China Sea wasn’t the only setback for China this week. Also stinging in Beijing is South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S.-made Thaad missile-defense system, which is necessary for protection against North Korea and brings Seoul closer to Washington. In its typically heavy-handed fashion, Beijing had warned Seoul not to take this step in its own defense. “South Korea will sacrifice its fast-developing relations with China if it should be seduced into the [Thaad] defense network, ignoring the protests of the largest economy in Asia,” China’s Xinhua news agency warned in 2014, as the two sides finalized a new trade deal. Chinese President Xi Jinping told South Korea’s Park Geun-hye to “tread carefully,” according to South Korean reports. Yet Beijing has refused to rein in North Korea, which recently carried out its fourth nuclear test and dozens of missile tests. In March an Asan Institute poll found 74% of South Koreans support Thaad deployment. “Growing nuclear and missile threats are a very critical issue where the future of the Republic of Korea and the lives of our people are at stake,” President Park said in explaining her decision this week. “I have an obligation to protect our people and nation.” Beijing condemned the decision but hasn’t retaliated. Shares in some South Korean cosmetics and tour firms fell this week on fears that China will restrict trade or tourism. But its previous acts of economic bullying have backfired. The best thing China can do is reconsider its support for North Korea. The Kim regime keeps the U.S. off-balance, but it doesn’t advance the Chinese goal of weakening U.S. capabilities and alliances in Asia. Thaad is part of growing South Korean cooperation with the U.S. and Japan, which has complementary radar systems and could soon install Thaad interceptors as well. The three countries held their first joint missile-defense exercise last month. South Korean officials say their Thaad batteries will be operational by the end of next year. If by then the system is showing Chinese leaders the self-defeating costs of their alliance with Pyongyang, it’ll achieve even more than defending against rogue missiles.”


Taiwan, After Rejecting South China Sea Decision, Sends Patrol Ship. Austin Ramzy, The New York Times. “Taiwan is an often-overlooked player in the debate over control of the South China Sea, where its emphasis on multilateral negotiations tends to be drowned out by the bold claims of China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and tries to limit its voice in world affairs. But after an international tribunal broadly rejected China’s claims to the strategic waterway, Taiwan reminded the world that it, too, had a stake in the sea. It denied the tribunal’s findings soon after they were released, and on Wednesday, it sent a warship to patrol the contested region. “The mission of this voyage is to display Taiwan people’s resolve in defending the national interest,” Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, said in a speech before the departure of the ship, a La Fayette-class frigate. The patrol had already been scheduled, but the ship’s departure was moved up a day after the tribunal’s announcement. Ms. Tsai said the decision on Tuesday by the tribunal, which was established by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, had “gravely harmed” Taiwan’s rights in the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. On paper, Taiwan and China make the same claims to the South China Sea. The so-called nine-dash line that Beijing uses to claim most of the sea is based on a map issued in the late 1940s by China’s then-Nationalist government, which fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communists. Since then, Beijing and the government in Taiwan — the Republic of China, as it is formally known — have based their claims on the line, which the tribunal concluded had no basis in law. But in recent years, Taiwan has hedged its support for the line and emphasized that its claims were based on land features in the South China Sea, Lynn Kuok, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in a 2015 paper. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, claims to bodies of water must be based on adjoining land. “There is a basic principle in the Law of the Sea, that land dominates the sea,” Ma Ying-jeou, the president of Taiwan at the time, said in an interview with The New York Times in 2014. “Thus marine claims begin with land.” The most severe blow to Taiwan’s claims in the tribunal’s findings, analysts and government officials said, was its declaration that Itu Aba, the largest land feature in the South China Sea, was not an island that could sustain human habitation or economic activity. Taiwan has controlled the 110-acre Itu Aba, also known as Taiping Island, since 1956. In recent months, Taiwan has actively promoted its presence on Itu Aba, inviting journalists and scholars on inspection trips. Mr. Ma visited shortly before he left office in May. The tribunal’s declaration that it is a rock, not an island, means that Taiwan is entitled to a territorial sea extending for 12 nautical miles around Itu Aba, but not a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory with which it must eventually be united, has largely backed Taiwan’s activities in support of its South China Sea claims. Beijing views Taiwan’s position in the South China Sea as bolstering its own argument that there is one China, to which both the mainland and Taiwan belong. “Chinese people across the strait are duty-bound and obliged to jointly preserve the ancestral land of the Chinese nation,” Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday in a statement responding to Taiwan’s criticism of the arbitration. And Chinese news outlets broadcast Ms. Tsai’s announcement of the navy patrol — an unusual amount of attention for a leader who has faced criticism from Chinese officials and state news media in recent weeks over her unwillingness to express support for the idea of “one China.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan also objected to not having been formally invited to present its views to the tribunal and complained that the decision referred to it as the “Taiwan Authority of China.” “This inappropriate designation is demeaning to the status of the R.O.C. as a sovereign state,” the ministry said, using an abbreviation for the Republic of China. That aspect of Taiwan’s criticism was not widely acknowledged by China, however. Beijing tries to minimize Taiwan’s international recognition or participation in bodies that would elevate the island’s status and sovereignty. Such pressure has increased under the leadership of Ms. Tsai, who is far more wary of cross-strait relations than Mr. Ma was.”

Ex-Admiral: US Should Defend Reef Off Philippines. Matthew Pennington, Associated Press. “The United States should be willing to use military force to oppose Chinese aggression at a disputed reef off the coast of the Philippines, a former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific told a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Dennis Blair made the recommendation to a Senate panel, a day after an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's expansive claims in the South China Sea. The objective was not to pick a fight with China at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, but to set a limit on its military coercion, Blair said. "I think we need to have some specific lines and then encourage China to compromise on some of its objectives," he told the hearing. The Philippines is a U.S. ally, but their treaty is ambiguous about whether the U.S. would come to its defense in disputed territory. A 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal between Chinese and the Philippine vessels prompted Manila to launch the arbitration case. China has rejected the tribunal's ruling, and on Wednesday warned other countries against threatening its security in the South China Sea. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said Beijing could declare an air defense identification zone over the waters if it felt threatened. China, however, also extended an olive branch to the new Philippine government, saying the Southeast Asian nation would benefit from cooperating with China. Blair, also a former director of national intelligence, said China has alienated its neighbors through its aggressive actions in the South China Sea, including its reclamation of land and construction of airstrips and ports in the Spratly Islands. He advised a careful U.S. approach following the tribunal ruling to give Beijing opportunity to change course. Kurt Campbell, former top U.S. diplomat for East Asia and now an adviser on Asia policy for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, said, "I think over time China will start to adjust its position, because they will realize it's not in their best strategic interests." New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants to revive relations with China that soured after his predecessor launched the arbitration case in 2013. But he also wants to be seen at home as defending the legal victory. President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, said the U.S. would support China-Philippines negotiations that were free from "coercion and undue pressure." Kim was speaking at his confirmation hearing Wednesday before the same Senate subcommittee on Asia. U.S. officials have said occupation or militarization of Scarborough Shoal by China would be very dangerous and destabilizing. But they have declined to say whether it would invoke the U.S.-Philippines treaty, which calls for the allies to help defend each other if there is an armed attack on their armed forces, public vessels, aircraft or island territories under their jurisdiction in the Pacific.”

Taiwan: Suspected Espionage Ring Busted. Jason Pan, Taipei Times. “A suspected spy ring that was allegedly selling military secrets using the latest digital technology and cloud computing has been busted, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday. Six suspects — mostly retired servicemen — are suspected of selling military secrets to China, authorities said. Prosecutors allege the operation was headed by a Taiwanese man surnamed Chuang, 33, a former soldier who has been traveling to China to on business over the past four years after his discharge from the military. Chuang recruited five men in their late twenties and who had formerly served in the army, offering up to NT$250,000 (US$7,768) per document. The Kaohsiung District Court has granted prosecutors the right to detain Chuang incommunicado, due to likelihood of fleeing him the nation and tampering with evidence, pending charges on breaching the National Security Act (國家安全法). One suspect surnamed Shih (師), 27, was released without bail, while the other four suspects — surnamed Chen (陳), 28, Liu (劉) 27, Mou (牟), 29 and Chu (諸), 29 — posted bail of between NT$20,000 and NT$40,000 each. A taskforce headed up by Kaohsiung prosecutor Shih Yu-ting (施昱廷), along with Military Police and Criminal Investigation Bureau investigators began surveillance of the suspects after receiving reports of espionage activities and intelligence security threats at military bases in southern Taiwan. Investigators allege that Chuang instructed the five men to gather classified information, photographs and other data on military exercise programs and deployment plans, and that from May to last month he made more than 20 transfers to his Chinese contacts and received more than NT$1 million. Prosecutors allege that Chuang encrypted classified military files and stored them in a cloud for retrieval by his contacts in China. Shih said investigations revealed that Chuang used Skype to communicate with his Chinese contacts, who in turn provided him with designated cloud storage and other network links to send the data. Chuang had served in Kaohsiung-based 8th Army Command. Five suspects were low-ranking soldiers, while one was a lieutenant. Military analysts said this case was a different approach by Chinese agents, as they were likely testing the viability of recruiting from the lower echelons of the military to see if valuable information could be obtained. In the past Chinese have approached high-ranking officers for military secrets, which requires more money. As part of their probe, prosecutors raided 11 locations in southern Taiwan and seized computers, hard disks, and USB storage devices, that they said contained classified military information.”

China Hacked The FDIC - And US officials Covered It Up, Report Says. Jose Pagliery, CNN. “China's spies hacked into computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2010 until 2013 -- and American government officials tried to cover it up, according to a Congressional report. The House of Representative's Science, Space and Technology Committee released its investigative report on Wednesday. It presents the FDIC's bank regulators as technologically inept -- and deceitful. According to congressional investigators, the Chinese government hacked into 12 computers and 10 backroom servers at the FDIC, including the incredibly sensitive personal computers of the agency's top officials: the FDIC chairman, his chief of staff, and the general counsel. When congressional investigators tried to review the FDIC's cybersecurity policy, the agency hid the hack, according to the report. Investigators cited several insiders who knew about how the agency responded. For example, one of the FDIC's top lawyers told employees not to discuss the hacks via email -- so the emails wouldn't become official government records. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg is being summoned before the Congressional committee on Thursday to explain what happened. The FDIC refused to comment. However, in a recent internal review, the agency admits that it "did not accurately portray the extent of risk" to Congress and recordkeeping "needs improvement." The FDIC claims it's now updating its policies. Given the FDIC's role as a national banking regulator, the revelation of this hack poses serious concern. The FDIC's role is to monitor any bank that isn't reviewed by the Federal Reserve system. It has access to extremely sensitive, internal information at 4,500 banks and savings institutions. The FDIC also insures deposits at banks nationwide, giving it access to huge loads of information on Americans. "Obviously it's indicative of the Chinese effort to database as much information as possible about Americans. FDIC information is right in line with the deep personal information they've gone for in the past," said computer security researcher Ryan Duff. He's a former member of U.S. Cyber Command, the American military's hacking unit. "Intentionally avoiding audits sounds unethical if not illegal," he added. Congressional investigators discovered the hacks after finding a 2013 memo from the FDIC's own inspector general to the agency's chairman, which detailed the hack and criticized the agency for "violating its own policies and for failing to alert appropriate authorities." The report also says this culture of secrecy led the FDIC's chief information officer, Russ Pittman, to mislead auditors. One whistleblower, whose identity is not revealed in the report, claimed that Pittman "instructed employees not to discuss... this foreign government penetration of the FDIC's network" to avoid ruining Gruenberg's confirmation by the U.S. Senate in March 2012. David Kennedy, a computer security expert and former analyst at the NSA spy agency, worries that federal agencies are repeatedly hiding hacks "under the blanket of national security." "With such a high profile breach and hitting the top levels of the FDIC, it's crazy to me to think that this type of information wasn't publicly released. We need to be deeply concerned around the disclosure process around our federal government," said Kennedy, who now runs the cybersecurity firm TrustedSec. This same committee, led by Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas, has previously criticized the FDIC for minimizing data breaches. Several cybersecurity experts -- who have extensive experience guarding government computers -- expressed dismay at the alleged coverup. "It's incumbent upon our policymakers to know about these data breaches so we can properly evaluate our defenses. Trying to hide successful intrusions only makes it easier for the next hacker to get in," said Dan Guido, who runs the cybersecurity firm Trail of Bits.”


Posted by Alex Gray | July 13, 2016

The Hague Has Ruled Against China. Time to Enforce It. Rep. J Randy Forbes, The National Interest. “Today’s ruling of the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal on the territorial disputes between the Philippines and China offers two paths forward for China, and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly. How China chooses to respond to the tribunal’s judgement, which sided against Beijing’s claims on key counts, will do much to determine the course of Asian security and the post-1945 international order in the decades to come. Since World War II, the United States and its global partners have sought to cement an international framework that prizes peaceful resolution of disputes, adherence to international laws and norms, and rejects the use of coercive force to achieve national objectives. This order, built out of the ashes of two devastating world wars, has contributed mightily to the growing prosperity of China and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the absence of open warfare between Great Powers over the past seventy years. Despite China’s repeated claims of wishing to become a “responsible stakeholder” on the world stage, China’s recent behavior represents the most serious threat to this order since the collapse of the Soviet Union. China’s economic clout, expanding military reach and capabilities, and Orwellian insistence that it is always the victim of others’ aggressive intentions pose an especially difficult challenge for an international system. This challenge has been particularly acute in managing Beijing’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. From the East China Sea to the South China Sea to China’s disputed land borders with India, Beijing has undertaken a systematic campaign to change the facts on the ground through coercion. Whether constructing artificial features in the South China Sea to strengthen its claims, declaring illegitimate Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, or repeatedly engaging in provocative militarily behavior near the Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing has repeatedly shown itself to subscribe to the “might-makes-right” school of international politics. Today’s ruling is a fundamental rebuke to Beijing, not simply on the facts of the case but simply by the manner in which the decision was reached. The Philippines’ decision to bring its claims before the UNCLOS tribunal is in keeping with the principles and values that have animated the United States and its partners in the postwar world. That a small, developing nation like the Philippines can successfully appeal to international law and norms against the Chinese colossus is a powerful rebuttal to the famous words of China’s former foreign minister, who stated that “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact” in justifying Beijing’s belligerency. Should China choose to ignore this ruling, it will show once and for all the hollowness of its pledges to act as a constructive member of the international community. But it will also pose a serious threat to the international order itself: the world’s second-largest economy and largest military openly repudiating the liberal international order, including the peaceful resolution of disputes. The consequences for international security will be profound, and Beijing’s response will be watched intently in Moscow, Tehran and Pyongyang. Now is the time for the United States to stiffen its resolve in preparation for China’s potential refusal to accept the ruling, or perhaps to even seek a military solution to its disputes with Manila. The administration’s dispatch of two Carrier Strike Groups to the region in recent weeks has been the appropriate response thus far. Should China respond rashly to the ruling, Washington should leave no doubt about its intention to stand with our treaty allies and partners to resist aggression and uphold both our values and interests. The tribunal decision is an inflection point in the history of China’s rise, representing the most notable clash yet between the values animating the post-1945 international system and Beijing’s revisionist approach to world affairs. While it is up to China how it chooses to respond to this decision, the United States has only one option: to stand resolutely with our friends in the Philippines and across the region in defense of universal values and the belief that no country, no matter the size of its military or GDP, is above the law.”

ROC Position On The South China Sea Arbitration. “The award rendered by the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the South China Sea arbitration is completely unacceptable to the government of the Republic of China. The tribunal’s decisions have no legally binding force on the ROC, for the following reasons: 1. In the text of the award, the ROC is referred to as “Taiwan Authority of China.” This inappropriate designation is demeaning to the status of the ROC as a sovereign state. 2.Taiping Island was not originally included in the Philippines’ submissions for arbitration. However, the tribunal took it upon itself to expand its authority, declaring ROC-governed Taiping Island, and other features in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, all to be rocks that “do not generate an exclusive economic zone.” This decision severely jeopardizes the legal status of the South China Sea Islands, over which the ROC exercises sovereignty, and their relevant maritime rights. That the ROC is entitled to all rights in accordance with the International Law and the Law of the Sea over the South China Sea Islands and their relevant waters is beyond dispute. The arbitral tribunal did not formally invite the ROC to participate in its proceedings, nor did it solicit the ROC’s views. Therefore, the award has no legally binding force on the ROC. The ROC government reiterates that the South China Sea Islands are part of the territory of the ROC and that it will take resolute action to safeguard the country’s territory and relevant maritime rights. The ROC government urges that disputes in the South China Sea be settled peacefully through multilateral negotiations, in the spirit of setting aside differences and promoting joint development. The ROC is willing, through negotiations conducted on the basis of equality, to work with all States concerned to advance peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Japanese Foreign Ministry Statement on Arbitration. “1. Today, the Arbitral Tribunal rendered the final award in the arbitral proceedings instituted by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as to the disputes between the Philippines and China regarding the South China Sea. 2. Japan has consistently advocated the importance of the rule of law and the use of peaceful means, not the use of force or coercion, in seeking settlement of maritime disputes. 3. As the Tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of UNCLOS, the parties to this case are required to comply with the award. Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam Statement on Arbitration. “Viet Nam welcomes the fact that, on 12 July 2016, the Tribunal issued its Award in the arbitration between the Philippines and China. Viet Nam will make a statement on the content of this Award. Viet Nam reaffirms its consistent position regarding this arbitration as fully reflected in the Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam transmitted to the Tribunal on 05 December 2014. Accordingly, Viet Nam strongly supports the settlement of disputes in the East Sea by peaceful means, including legal and diplomatic processes, refraining from the use or threat of use of force in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, maintenance of regional peace and stability, security, safety and freedoms of navigation and over-flight in the East Sea, and respect for the rule of law in the oceans and seas. On this occasion, Viet Nam, once again, affirms its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes, its sovereignty over the internal water and territorial sea and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam as established in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as all Viet Nam’s rights and interests of a legal nature in connection with the geographical features of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes.”

Singapore Urges 'Self-Restraint' From All Parties After South China Sea Ruling. Channel News Asia. “Following the Hague tribunal's ruling on the South China Sea, Singapore has urged all parties to "fully respect legal and diplomatic processes, exercise self-restraint and avoid conducting any activities that may raise tensions in the region". The United Nations-backed tribunal said Beijing has no legal basis to claim "historic rights" to islands in the South China Sea. Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' statement is as follows: "Singapore has taken note of the Award made by the Arbitral Tribunal convened under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on 12 July 2016 on the case between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China. We are studying the Award and its implications on Singapore and the wider region. Singapore is not a claimant state and we do not take sides on the competing territorial claims. However, we support the peaceful resolution of disputes among claimants in accordance with universally-recognised principles of international law, including UNCLOS, without resorting to the threat or use of force. As a small state, we strongly support the maintenance of a rules-based order that upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states. Singapore values our long-standing and friendly relations with all parties, bilaterally and in the context of ASEAN. We urge all parties to fully respect legal and diplomatic processes, exercise self-restraint and avoid conducting any activities that may raise tensions in the region. Singapore supports the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the expeditious conclusion of a legally-binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

Chinese Ambassador Cui: U.S. Military Moves In South China Sea Are Coercive. John Grady, USNI News. “The Chinese ambassador to the United States said Tuesday’s ruling against Beijing in its dispute with the Philippines by an international tribunal was “a clear attempt use legal instruments for political purposes” and has “taken place with military coercion” as a backdrop. Speaking at a Washington think tank, Cui Tiankai said, “China has to stand up to” the coercion it sees in the presence of American and other military vessels transiting near its claimed reefs in the South China Sea. “We will not yield to any pressure” from the military, media or a legal body, he added in rejecting the ruling on China’s claims over much of the region, using the so-called “9 Dash line” as its justification of historical possession. The line was included in post-World War II maps. In answer to a question, Cui said, “Intensive military action so close to neighboring reefs” or entering those nearby waters could be considered by China as a destabilizing action. He distinguished between the passage of commercial or civilian shipping and military vessels in these disputed territories, saying commerce could pass freely through. Several times, Cui said, in effect, the United States’ “pivot to Asia” has “not brought us enhanced confidence in the region” and has proved to be a source of rising tensions. He also said countries in the region should look at Syria, Iraq and Libya to see the danger in drawing too close to the United States for military protection. “Be careful what you wish for,” he said. “None of us [in Asia] would pivot to any other place in the world.” Cui said, “We don’t have any territorial dispute” nor a strategic rivalry with the United States. A “Cold War mentality will not solve the problems of today’s world.” He said the choice of how to proceed the United States wants to proceed was “extremely important,” alluding to the upcoming presidential election. “We want to see a positive interaction,” one with “no conflict, no confrontation.” He termed the Rim of the Pacific exercise as a confidence-building measure between the two nations’ militaries vital to avoid future miscalculations of intent. The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the United Nations’ Convention of the Law of the Sea “probably opens the door to weaken arbitration procedures.” At the same time, the decision “certainly undermines diplomatic efforts” to resolve these disputes. He added China has successfully negotiated land territorial disputes with 12 of its 14 neighbors. “We are actually a community of common destiny” with the Association of South East Asian Nations. Cui said the core issue of territorial disputes was not subject to the law of the sea convention or the Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction. “A failure to recognize that is a matter of professional incompetence.” He added the case itself was “initiated not out of good will or good faith.” In answer to a question, the ambassador said China is open to negotiating with the Philippines to resolve territorial disputes, but “it takes two to tango.” Earlier in his remarks, Cui said, “diplomatic efforts should not be dropped by a scrap of paper or a fleet of aircraft carriers.”

South China Sea Verdict. Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal. “A United Nations tribunal ruled Tuesday that China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea, and its aggressive attempts to enforce them, violate international law. This is a necessary rebuke to Beijing, but it comes with no enforcement measures and Chinese leaders have rejected it. So its effect will depend on how China’s neighbors and the United States respond. International norms can’t survive without democracies willing to defend them. China’s record in the South China Sea belies its promises to pursue a “peaceful rise.” By asserting “indisputable sovereignty” over an area larger than the Mediterranean and encroaching on the territory and rights of others, Beijing has threatened the rules-based order that has given Asia decades of prosperity. Its pillars include freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Though the South China Sea is the main economic artery of the world’s most dynamic and populous region, the stakes are even broader. As French defense chief Jean-Yves Le Drian noted recently: “If the law of the sea is not respected today in the China seas, it will be threatened tomorrow in the Arctic, the Mediterranean or elsewhere.” Vladimir Putin and other authoritarians are paying attention. The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration found that China’s main claim to the sea, represented by its notorious “nine-dash line” map, has “no legal basis.” It further slammed China’s frequent claims to “historic” rights, confirming that these don’t fly under the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty, and that there is “no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.” The ruling also undercuts China’s claims in the Spratly archipelago, off the Philippine coast, where Beijing has built and militarized seven artificial islands since 2014. It found that no feature in the Spratlys is a natural “island” under the law, so none entitles its owner to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. That means the only exclusive zone there derives from the coast and belongs to the Philippines, confirming that China has no right to threaten Philippine commercial or military vessels as it has at places like Reed Bank and Second Thomas Shoal. As for China’s artificial islands, the tribunal found that some are built on natural “rocks” that are above water at high tide and thus yield 12-mile territorial seas. But the others are built on underwater features over which no one can claim sovereignty—making China an illegal occupier. The tribunal also confirmed that China violated Philippine rights in seizing Scarborough Shoal, the 2012 incident that drove Manila to file suit. Beijing has since kept Philippine fishermen away from the 60-square-mile area and may want to build an artificial island there, 120 miles from the Philippine navy base at Subic Bay. Starting construction at Scarborough is one way Beijing may express its pique at this verdict, which Chinese spokesmen have denounced as a “farce” and “nothing more than a piece of paper.” China could also deploy additional firepower to the Spratlys and declare an air-defense identification zone over the South China Sea as it did over the East China Sea in 2013. Beijing is also courting new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office June 30 promising better relations with China. He wants bilateral talks, Chinese investment and joint resource development in the South China Sea. These can be worthy goals, but when Manila was last this eager, in 2004, then-President Gloria Arroyo signed a secret deal that applied Chinese law to Philippine waters. It also fueled Beijing’s drive to bully its neighbors at sea while trying to buy them off one by one. The better outcome would be a united front of South China Sea claimants (the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei) negotiating jointly with China. If Beijing continues its abuses, they can file new arbitration cases, as Indonesia and Vietnam have hinted. Then there’s the U.S., the only real enforcement authority. The Obama Administration has made some helpful military moves, flying A-10 attack planes from a Philippine base near Scarborough and operating two carrier battle groups in the Western Pacific. But its much-touted freedom-of-navigation operations have been spare and timid. With the Hague verdict, these operations should increase in frequency and scope. Patrols from Australia and others would help too. Mr. Le Drian, the French defense minister, has suggested European patrols. Most important is to reverse military cuts, protectionism and other self-defeating policies. Curbing Chinese aggression will be a years-long effort. No U.N. tribunal decision can be a victory for the rules-based liberal order if liberal states won’t defend that order. That requires more free trade, bigger navies, and a renewed commitment from Washington to protect its friends, interests and principles around the world.”

Why Law Can’t Solve The South China Sea Conflict. Paul Gewirtz, The Washington Post. “The authoritative voice of law has now spoken clearly and decisively on a South China Sea churning dangerously with military maneuvers and heated rhetoric. But law’s effects on the conflict are highly uncertain. On Tuesday, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague announced a sweeping victory for the Philippines that found unlawful a broad range of Chinese claims and actions regarding the sea. The tribunal’s words vindicate the Obama administration’s admirable search for law- and rules-based answers to foreign policy disputes. Regarding the South China Sea, President Obama has emphasized our commitment to resolving the dangerous conflicts “peacefully, through legal means, such as the upcoming arbitration ruling under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” While this ruling offers a significant positive contribution, law cannot solve all the conflicts in the South China Sea. Tuesday’s decision underscores the limits of law in resolving these disputes in practice, as well as the urgent need to move ahead with negotiations, supported by prudent power politics. The tribunal’s headline conclusion limits the legal scope of China’s notorious “nine-dash line.” At most, the tribunal said, this line can be a claim to sovereignty over the islands inside the line and maritime rights deriving from those land features as provided under the Law of the Sea Convention. Any pretense that the sea is a Chinese lake has been rejected, though sovereignty issues remain unresolved. Just as significant, and potentially creating more immediate tensions, are the tribunal’s decisions that certain Chinese land reclamations unlawfully infringe on the Philippines’ rights and the Law of the Sea Convention’s environmental rules.  These are major legal conclusions, but they will produce no immediate resolution to the conflict. Despite being a signatory to the convention, China refused to participate in the arbitration and has denounced the decision as “null and void.” China is clearly wrong. But its sweeping rejection reveals the practical limits of law in this context because the tribunal has no enforcement powers — no police force, no sanctions system, no ability to levy fines.  Another fundamental limit is that the tribunal lacks legal power to resolve underlying and potentially explosive conflicts regarding sovereignty over land features, such as the dangerously contested Scarborough Shoal, and disputes over maritime boundaries. And of course no court’s decision can fully address the core geopolitical issues at stake: China’s enormous new capacities, widespread uncertainty about China’s regional intentions, and whether China and the United States can find terms of coexistence in the Asia-Pacific. So what is the path forward? The United States and other countries should strongly support the tribunal’s judgment as a binding decision in words and deeds. The United States should criticize China’s statements that it will not comply with the tribunal’s conclusions. And it should continue regular freedom-of-navigation operations, taking advantage of any additional navigation rights produced by the tribunal’s decision. But the Obama administration also must guard against escalation and reach out to other countries for quiet diplomatic discussions of our options. We cannot yet predict China’s range of responses to the tribunal. The possibility exists that a rebuked China will launch new provocations, leading to a crisis that serves no one’s interests — and the United States and its allies must be ready if China seeks to use force to get its way. Additionally, a legally empowered Philippines might ask the United States to use its military to enforce what the tribunal cannot enforce, which would itself create major risks. Instead, the United States should encourage our Filipino allies — with their legal victory in hand — to pursue direct negotiations with China as the best next step in looking for real-world, peaceful solutions. China has long demanded negotiations, so this is the testing hour for China’s good faith.  Neither country should insist on preconditions to such talks. China should not insist that the Philippines renounce the arbitration award, and the Philippines should not insist that China accept the legal rights awarded by the tribunal. Such demands would doom negotiations before they started. The path of negotiations will be uncertain and difficult. But the Philippines’ position will be significantly strengthened by the tribunal’s award. Negotiations should begin with a focus on lowering tensions, looking for trade-offs and pursuing common development projects, even if ultimate questions of sovereignty are temporarily set aside.  The tribunal ruling will also be wind in the sails of other claimants in the South China Sea. Over time, China might conceivably accept terms similar to those it now denounces if they are the product of negotiations rather than a third-party tribunal. These are all potential contributions of legal rules even when legal judgments are not formally enforceable. Negotiating an enforceable, rules-based code of conduct among the ASEAN nations and China should also be a top priority.”

Enforce Law Of The Sea Ruling: Stand With The Philippines Now, Or Later Face China Alone. Anders Corr, Forbes. “The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled yesterday in favor of the Philippines, and against China’s nine-dash line. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruling delivered an almost-unadulterated victory to the Philippines and a humiliating moral defeat to China. China experts are now calling for U.S. and allied enforcement of the claim. Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) wrote “Should China respond rashly to the ruling, Washington should leave no doubt about its intention to stand with our treaty allies and partners to resist aggression and uphold both our values and interests.” One official, who wrote on condition of anonymity, said “We are where we are now because of the World community’s reluctance to confront Beijing 4-6 years ago when it was aggressing Japan in the Senkakus and the Philippines in the SCS.  If we do not confront Beijing now, we will be facing even more severe aggression 4-6 years from now.” China reacted to the court ruling, even before it was made, by saying it was invalid, null and void, and would be ignored. China reiterated this position after the ruling yesterday. This puts the ball back into the court of the law-abiding countries. The U.S. and our allies are the only countries with the power to enforce the PCA ruling. The ruling is in favor of a U.S. treaty ally, the Philippines. Thus it is doubly incumbent on the U.S., since China has refused to abide by the ruling, to organize allied enforcement of the ruling. Not doing so would be to shirk our duties as a member of the international community, as an ally of the Philippines, and ultimately in our own defense. If China succeeds in flaunting international law and territorial claims in this case, neither will they be deterred in 10 or 20 years, when they are much more powerful economically and militarily, from claiming even more. Enforcement of the international ruling is ultimately necessary for the defense of not only Philippine, but U.S. territory. Several steps should be taken to enforce the ruling such that war is averted. First, the U.S. should obtain commitments from allies, including E.U. countries, the U.K., Japan, Australia, India, and South Korea, to assist in a coalition to enforce UNCLOS in the South China Sea. Second, the U.S. and allies should jointly inform China that we intend to enforce the ruling, and thereby give China an opportunity to comply quietly and save face. Third, the U.S. and any other allies who have not ratified UNCLOS, should do so. This will counter China’s argument that the U.S. is not a signatory to UNCLOS, so should not rely on UNCLOS as justification for its actions. Should China continue to refuse to comply with the Court’s ruling, the U.S. and allies should impose economic sanctions on China, the removal of which should be linked to China’s full compliance with the ruling. I expect this would achieve the desired result, as other than stability of Communist Party rule, economic growth is the top concern of Chinese leaders. The U.S. should immediately make clear to China that should China ignore economic sanctions, military force would be used for enforce the Philippine claims legally recognized by the Court. As reprehensible as military conflict is, military resolve is demonstrated not only by words, but in actions that entail a modicum of risk. The U.S. and allies should demonstrate resolve in this case by immediately moving additional military forces to protect Philippine claims, for example at Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal. Furthermore, the U.S. and allies should eventually militarily pressure Chinese naval forces at Mischief Reef, 146 miles from the Philippines and within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The Court found that China is illegally building on Mischief Reef, including naval facilities and a military-capable airstrip. The U.S. and allies should militarily protect Philippine oil and gas exploration of Reed Bank, which is within the Philippine EEZ. Until now, China has forcefully interfered with the Philippines exclusive right to develop Reed Bank. In order to decrease the likelihood of military conflict, the U.S. and allies should gradually increase enforcement measures from relatively symbolic economic sanctions to riskier military protection of Philippine economic activities in their EEZ. Military pressure on Chinese forces at Mischief Reef should be a final resort.”

Tokyo And Manila Will Hold Joint Drills Just After A Verdict On The Philippines’ South China Sea Case Against China. Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat. “Japan and the Philippines will conduct a bilateral exercise this week off of Manila Bay just after an international tribunal is expected to announce a much-anticipated verdict on the Philippines’ South China Sea case against China, Philippine officials confirmed Monday. The sixth iteration of the Joint Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN) Exercise between the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will be conducted on July 13. The exercise focuses on combating piracy and armed robbery at sea and is meant to enhance the capabilities of both sides, facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills, and boost mutual understanding between them as well as other law enforcement agencies. According to a press release by the PCG, during the exercise, delegates of the PCG Maritime Security and Law Enforcement Command together will be present along with other government law enforcement agencies as well as representatives from the United States and Australia, who are participating as observers. On Monday, the JCG vessel PHG02 Tsugaru, a 105.4-meter crude oil tanker of 3,324 gross tons, arrived and docked in Manila ahead of the exercise. Tsugaru will participate in the exercise along with its assets, which include a helicopter and a rigid hull inflatable board for board, search, and seizure procedures. The PCG will also deploy floating and air assets for the exercise, according to the statement that it released. The exercise will occur a day after a verdict on Manila’s South China Sea case against Beijing, which was first filed back in 2013. Even though both sides would claim that the exercises are not directed at China and focus on piracy and armed robbery rather than the South China Sea, their timing will likely feed into media accounts of responses by Beijing and Manila following the ruling. The Philippines has been boosting its defense partnership with Japan over the past few years, with the two sides inking a landmark deal on equipment and technology earlier this year. This year could see Tokyo begin to deliver equipment to Manila, including patrol vessels as well as surveillance aircraft. China has traditionally reacted stridently against any sign of Tokyo’s interference in the South China Sea issue as a non-claimant.”

Can Taiwan Withstand China's Economic Might? Peter Navarro, The National Interest. “On May 20, in its third successful transition of presidential power between parties and best sign yet of a mature and stable democracy, Taiwan inaugurated its new president, Tsai Ing-wen. To the consternation of Taiwan’s electorate—and under the radar of much of the rest of the world—President Tsai’s inauguration speech has triggered a significant escalation of Beijing’s non-kinetic “three warfares” campaign against the island. Beijing’s clear goal in using intense economic, legal and psychological pressures—the three warfares—is to bring it to heel. Over the last week, I met with a variety of government officials, business leaders, politicians, academics and journalists in Taiwan to discuss a situation that is far more serious than is being reported in the western press. In a three-part series for the National Interest, I will look at the economics, politics and policy implications of the escalating cross-strait crisis. The economic situation is important not just because Taiwan’s weak economy makes it highly vulnerable to pressure from its major trading partner. Slow GDP growth and attendant zero wage growth are also prime movers behind the landslide victory of a new president offering Taiwan’s citizenry the hope of a national Taiwanese identify, a continued de facto independence from China and a decoupling of Taiwan’s economic fortunes with that of the mainland. Current GDP growth in Taiwan is in the range of 0.5 percent to 1 percent, and this growth rate is likely to fall over the next year into a flat to recessionary pattern. While the unemployment remains low at around 4 percent (albeit a bit high by Taiwan’s historical pattern), income growth has flat-lined over many years now with little prospect for improvement. Taiwan’s economic woes do not reflect a short-run cyclical phenomenon amenable to the kind of Keynesian stimuli recommended in the standard macroeconomic textbooks. Rather, this is a long-term structural problem associated with the offshoring of Taiwan’s production and the broader forces of globalization. In Taiwan’s case, however, its economic malaise is also being severely exacerbated by the economic warfare Beijing is now waging. On the globalization front, Asia has witnessed three waves of offshoring. In the initial wave from the 1960s through roughly 1990, both Europe and the United States (as well as Japan in the later part of this period) began to offshore their factories in search of cheaper labor, lax environmental regulations and potential new markets. As part of the “Four Tigers” that also included Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, Taiwan benefited directly from such foreign direct investment and transfer of technology; and during this First Wave period of offshoring, it experienced rapid income growth as well as robust GDP growth rates. These were indeed Taiwan’s golden decades. The Second Wave of offshoring began in the 1990s and accelerated in the 2000s as much of Taiwan’s new capital investment moved to foreign shores, principally China. While Taiwan’s business interests captured great riches from this Second Wave, thus began the steady erosion of Taiwan’s manufacturing and jobs base and the concomitant fall in the Taiwan’s GDP and downward pressure on wages and income growth. A key strategic mistake made during this period, particularly during the 2008–16 term of President Ma Ying-jeou, was to ignore diversification and effectively hitch Taiwan’s economy to the Chinese wagon. Today, 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports go to China while its critical tourism sector depends heavily on mainland traffic. This is problematic for two reasons. First, China’s economy has downshifted significantly over the past several years from its thirty-year reign of double-digit GDP growth, and this slower growth appears to be the “new normal.” Taiwan’s export trade is suffering accordingly, and the long-term outlook is not reassuring. Second, Taiwan’s heavy reliance on China trade has made it exceedingly vulnerable to precisely the kind of economic warfare now being waged by Beijing’s hard liners. The abiding fact here is that since President Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated on May 20, China has not just cut many of its diplomatic lines of communication—including the “hot line” between Beijing and Taipei. It has also cut trade in selected sectors such as tourism, fishing and farming. Here, it should be noted—and it was by many of the government officials I talked to—that Beijing’s economic quotas and embargoes are highly sophisticated in their targeting and designed to apply maximum political pressure to the ruling party. In her acknowledgement of Taiwan’s Chinese trade dependence, President Tsai announced in her inaugural address a “New Southbound Policy in order to elevate the scope and diversity of our external economy, and to bid farewell to our past overreliance on a single market.” Tsai’s obvious goal is to expand trade with countries to the south like Indonesia and Vietnam. Of course, there is this big problem: Every time Taiwan tries to expand its trade with other countries through formal mechanisms like Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Beijing swoops in with its economic warfare to squash any deals. Indeed, it is precisely in this area—and why Taiwan’s economic fortunes seem so despairing—that Beijing’s bullying has often been its most intense and effective. Consider, for example, that while Taiwan did manage to sign FTAs with both Singapore and New Zealand, its efforts at wooing countries as far away as Chile and as near as Malaysia have met with firm Chinese “vetoes.” These vetoes come in the form of massive pressure on, and threats to, any countries that might dare to sign FTAs or expand trade with Taiwan. For example, if Chile moves towards an FTA with Taiwan, China threatens to reduce its purchases of Chilean copper and cut its flow of desperately needed FDI. More broadly, any country with any significant trade with China or reliance on its FDI is exposed to these kinds of Beijing threats. Moreover, China’s economic warfare is not limited to cutting off Taiwan’s trade with the world. It also seeks to deny Taiwan critically needed weapons systems to defend itself, e.g., no country in Europe dares sell urgently needed conventional diesel electric subs to Taiwan for fear of disrupting the trade relationship. The last point to note on Taiwan’s economic front is this: Even if its New Southbound Policy is effectively implemented, it may do little to solve the more fundamental problem of stagnant income growth and associated growing political despair at home. The only way to solve this problem is not to just find new offshoring destinations but rather to restore at least some of Taiwan’s manufacturing base to the island. Such “reshoring” may be difficult, however, given the lack of adequate land on this mostly hilly and crowded island. Nonetheless, one option may be for Taiwan may be to cultivate its own domestic weapons production industry. Here, there is enthusiasm locally to build both aircraft and submarines as part of both Taiwan’s economic and military strategies. The picture that emerges from any sober review of the Taiwan economy is that of an island with a relatively bleak economic outlook for an extended period. Its economic model of offshoring is broken—while it serves the needs of a narrow swath of business interests, there is little trickle down. At the same time, any efforts to expand its trade are met with stiff Chinese resistance. Here, as a riff on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Taiwan has “markets, markets everywhere but nary a place to trade” because of Chinese bullying. Most broadly, this grim economic outlook will continue to play a huge part in determining the island’s political destiny. In the meantime, I’d like to close with a tip of the hat to the island’s people who inhabit this midpoint of the First Island Chain with a unique dignity and grace that puts a distinctly Asian twist on Churchill’s courageous “stiff upper lip.”

South Korea Announces Site For US Missile Defense System. Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press. “An advanced U.S. missile defense system will be deployed in a rural farming town in southeastern South Korea, Seoul officials announced Wednesday, angering not only North Korea and China but also local residents who fear potential health hazards that they believe the U.S. system might cause. As words of the location for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, spread even before the government's formal announcement, thousands of residents in the town of Seongju, the site for the U.S. system, rallied and demanded the government cancel its decision. A group of local leaders wrote letters of complaint in blood that they plan to give to the Defense Ministry. "We oppose with our lives the THAAD deployment," one of the letters said, according to Seongju local council speaker Bae Jae Man, one of the 10 people who wrote the letter. Seoul and Washington officials say they need the missile system to better deal with what they call increasing North Korean military threats. On Monday, North Korea warned it will take unspecified "physical" measures once the location for THAAD is announced. Seoul's Deputy Defense Minister Ryu Je Seung told a news conference that Seongju was picked because it can maximize the THAAD's military effectiveness while satisfying environmental, health and safety standards. No other details were given, although U.S. military bases are in the area. Ryu said a THAAD system stationed in Seongju would cover up to two-thirds of South Korea's territory from possible North Korean nuclear and missile threats. He said the defense chiefs of the countries approved the decision. China and Russia oppose the system that they believe helps U.S. radar track missiles in their countries. Seoul and Washington say the system targets only North Korea. Many South Koreans worry China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, might take economic retaliatory measures. Residents in Seongju and several other villages previously rumored to be candidate sites for the THAAD system have already launched protests, citing fears that the electromagnetic waves that THAAD radar systems emit can possibly cause health problems. Defense officials have disputed that, saying the system will be located on a mountain, not in a residential area, and is harmless if people stay at least 100 meters (yards) away from it. Seoul and Washington launched talks on the THAAD deployment after North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test and carried about a long-range rocket launch earlier this year. The United States stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea. China assisted North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, while American-led U.N. troops fought alongside South Korea.”

Posted by Alex Gray | July 12, 2016

Permanent Court Of Arbitration Press Release. “A unanimous Award has been issued today by the Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the “Convention”) in the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China. This arbitration concerned the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features and the maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention. In light of limitations on compulsory dispute settlement under the Convention, the Tribunal has emphasized that it does not rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and does not delimit any boundary between the Parties. China has repeatedly stated that “it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.” Annex VII, however, provides that the “[a]bsence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.” Annex VII also provides that, in the event that a party does not participate in the proceedings, a tribunal “must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact and law.” Accordingly, throughout these proceedings, the Tribunal has taken steps to test the accuracy of the Philippines’ claims, including by requesting further written submissions from the Philippines, by questioning the Philippines both prior to and during two hearings, by appointing independent experts to report to the Tribunal on technical matters, and by obtaining historical evidence concerning features in the South China Sea and providing it to the Parties for comment. China has also made clear—through the publication of a Position Paper in December 2014 and in other official statements—that, in its view, the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction in this matter. Article 288 of the Convention provides that: “In the event of a dispute as to whether a court or tribunal has jurisdiction, the matter shall be settled by decision of that court or tribunal.” Accordingly, the Tribunal convened a hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility in July 2015 and rendered an Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility on 29 October 2015, deciding some issues of jurisdiction and deferring others for further consideration. The Tribunal then convened a hearing on the merits from 24 to 30 November 2015. The Award of today’s date addresses the issues of jurisdiction not decided in the Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility and the merits of the Philippines’ claims over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction. The Award is final and binding, as set out in Article 296 of the Convention and Article 11 of Annex VII. The Tribunal found that it has jurisdiction to consider the Parties’ dispute concerning historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. On the merits, the Tribunal concluded that the Convention comprehensively allocates rights to maritime areas and that protections for pre-existing rights to resources were considered, but not adopted in the Convention. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that, to the extent China had historic rights to resources in the waters of the South China Sea, such rights were extinguished to the extent they were incompatible with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the Convention. The Tribunal also noted that, although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other States, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources. The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’. The Tribunal next considered entitlements to maritime areas and the status of features. The Tribunal first undertook an evaluation of whether certain reefs claimed by China are above water at high tide. Features that are above water at high tide generate an entitlement to at least a 12 nautical mile territorial sea, whereas features that are submerged at high tide do not. The Tribunal noted that the reefs have been heavily modified by land reclamation and construction, recalled that the Convention classifies features on their natural condition, and relied on historical materials in evaluating the features. The Tribunal then considered whether any of the features claimed by China could generate maritime zones beyond 12 nautical miles. Under the Convention, islands generate an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a continental shelf, but “[r]ocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” The Tribunal concluded that this provision depends upon the objective capacity of a feature, in its natural condition, to sustain either a stable community of people or economic activity that is not dependent on outside resources or purely extractive in nature. The Tribunal noted that the current presence of official personnel on many of the features is dependent on outside support and not reflective of the capacity of the features. The Tribunal found historical evidence to be more relevant and noted that the Spratly Islands were historically used by small groups of fishermen and that several Japanese fishing and guano mining enterprises were attempted. The Tribunal concluded that such transient use does not constitute inhabitation by a stable community and that all of the historical economic activity had been extractive. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that none of the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones. The Tribunal also held that the Spratly Islands cannot generate maritime zones collectively as a unit. Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the Tribunal found that it could—without delimiting a boundary—declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China. The Tribunal next considered the lawfulness of Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels. The Tribunal considered the effect on the marine environment of China’s recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Spratly Islands and found that China had caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species. The Tribunal also found that Chinese authorities were aware that Chinese fishermen have harvested endangered sea turtles, coral, and giant clams on a substantial scale in the South China Sea (using methods that inflict severe damage on the coral reef environment) and had not fulfilled their obligations to stop such activities.  Finally, the Tribunal considered whether China’s actions since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the dispute between the Parties. The Tribunal found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the implications of a stand-off between Philippine marines and Chinese naval and law enforcement vessels at Second Thomas Shoal, holding that this dispute involved military activities and was therefore excluded from compulsory settlement. The Tribunal found, however, that China’s recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations on a State during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has inflicted irreparable harm to the marine environment, built a large artificial island in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features in the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.”

Full Award.

PRC Statement On Hague Ruling. “With regard to the award rendered on 12 July 2016 by the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration established at the unilateral request of the Republic of the Philippines (hereinafter referred to as the "Arbitral Tribunal"), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. 1. On 22 January 2013, the then government of the Republic of the Philippines unilaterally initiated arbitration on the relevant disputes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. On 19 February 2013, the Chinese government solemnly declared that it neither accepts nor participates in that arbitration and has since repeatedly reiterated that position. On 7 December 2014, the Chinese government released the Position Paper of the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines, pointing out that the Philippines' initiation of arbitration breaches the agreement between the two states, violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and goes against the general practice of international arbitration, and that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction. On 29 October 2015, the Arbitral Tribunal rendered an award on jurisdiction and admissibility. The Chinese government immediately stated that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China's positions are clear and consistent. 2. The unilateral initiation of arbitration by the Philippines is out of bad faith. It aims not to resolve the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines, or to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, but to deny China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. The initiation of this arbitration violates international law. First, the subject-matter of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines is in essence an issue of territorial sovereignty over some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands), and inevitably concerns and cannot be separated from maritime delimitation between China and the Philippines. Fully aware that territorial issues are not subject to UNCLOS, and that maritime delimitation disputes have been excluded from the UNCLOS compulsory dispute settlement procedures by China's 2006 declaration, the Philippines deliberately packaged the relevant disputes as mere issues concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS. Second, the Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration infringes upon China's right as a state party to UNCLOS to choose on its own will the procedures and means for dispute settlement. As early as in 2006, pursuant to Article 298 of UNCLOS, China excluded from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures of UNCLOS disputes concerning, among others, maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, military and law enforcement activities. Third, the Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration violates the bilateral agreement reached between China and the Philippines, and repeatedly reaffirmed over the years, to resolve relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations. Fourth, the Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration violates the commitment made by China and ASEAN Member States, including the Philippines, in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to resolve the relevant disputes through negotiations by states directly concerned. By unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines violates UNCLOS and its provisions on the application of dispute settlement procedures, the principle of "pacta sunt servanda" and other rules and principles of international law. 3. The Arbitral Tribunal disregards the fact that the essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines is issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, erroneously interprets the common choice of means of dispute settlement already made jointly by China and the Philippines, erroneously construes the legal effect of the relevant commitment in the DOC, deliberately circumvents the optional exceptions declaration made by China under Article 298 of UNCLOS, selectively takes relevant islands and reefs out of the macro-geographical framework of Nanhai Zhudao (the South China Sea Islands), subjectively and speculatively interprets and applies UNCLOS, and obviously errs in ascertaining fact and applying the law. The conduct of the Arbitral Tribunal and its awards seriously contravene the general practice of international arbitration, completely deviate from the object and purpose of UNCLOS to promote peaceful settlement of disputes, substantially impair the integrity and authority of UNCLOS, gravely infringe upon China's legitimate rights as a sovereign state and state party to UNCLOS, and are unjust and unlawful. 4. China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards. 5. The Chinese government reiterates that, regarding territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept any means of third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China. The Chinese government will continue to abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including the principles of respecting state sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of disputes, and continue to work with states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law, so as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Taiwan Rejects South China Sea Ruling, Says Will Deploy Another Navy Vessel To Itu Aba. Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times. “Taiwan said on Tuesday (July 12) that it will never accept a ruling by a UN-backed arbitral tribunal in a case brought by the Philippines against China's claims in the South China Sea. Its navy also said it will deploy another coast guard vessel to Itu Aba - a Taiwan-controlled island in the Spratly chain of islands - to patrol its surrounding waters. Taiwan had deployed a 2,000-tonne coast guard vessel on Sunday to the island which it calls Taiping. "We will never accept it (the tribunal's ruling)... it is not legally binding. We will definitely defend our territorial sovereignty and not allow our... interests be harmed," said presidential office spokesman Alex Huang. South China Sea disputes should be resolved through multilateral negotiations, he said. "We would also like, on the basis of equal consultation with relevant countries, to jointly promote peace and stability in the South China Sea," he added. Although Taiwan is not party to the case filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, its claims in the disputed waters are similar to those of China, and Itu Aba island was brought up in testimony during the court hearings. The arbitral tribunal did not formally invite Taiwan to participate in the proceedings, and "has never sought our advice", the spokesman said.”

Vietnam Welcomes Hague Ruling. Vietnam Breaking News. “Việt Nam yesterday welcomed the final ruling issued by an international tribunal in The Hague, which rejected China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea (East Sea). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson, Lê Hải Bình, said in a statement that Việt Nam would issue a more detailed statement on the content of the ruling later. “Việt Nam once again confirmed its consistent stance on this lawsuit, which was fully reflected in the Statement dated December 12, 2014 that Việt Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal,” he said. Bình also reiterated that “Việt Nam strongly supports the resolution of the disputes in the East Sea by peaceful means, including diplomatic and legal processes and refraining from the use or threats to use force, in accordance with international law.” “On this occasion, Việt Nam continues to assert its sovereignty over the two archipelagoes of Paracels (Hoàng Sa) and Spratly (Trường Sa) islands, over the internal waters and territorial waters,” and its “sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone and Việt Nam’s continental shelf”, as well as all the legal rights and interests of Việt Nam related to the geographical structures of the Paracels (Hoàng Sa) and Spratly (Trường Sa) islands. The arbitral tribunal under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) yesterday concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas enclosed by the “nine-dash” line. There was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the South China Sea (East Sea) waters or their resources, said the five-member tribunal of maritime affairs experts at The Hague as they issued the ruling over the case filed by the Philippines to contest China’s claims and activity in the South China Sea. “None of the Spratly Islands are capable of generating extended maritime zones,” and that “none of the features claimed by China were capable of generating an exclusive economic zone,” the ruling said. The tribunal also said that China had contravened international law when it “violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone” and by failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered sea turtles and other species “on a substantial scale.” In terms of effects on marine environment, the tribunal found that China had “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment”. Finally, the tribunal found that China’s recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations of a State during dispute resolution proceedings. In 2013, the Philippines brought the case to the UNCLOS tribunal, asking the tribunal to reject China’s claims to sovereignty over as much as 90 per cent of the South China Sea, marked by a “nine-dash line” on official Chinese maps. It also accused China of interfering with fishing, dredging sand to build artificial islands, and endangering ships, among other claims. China has boycotted the tribunal from the very beginning, saying that the panel has no jurisdiction. It has already said it will not “accept, recognise or execute” the decision. Legally, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision will be binding. However, there is no ability to enforce the ruling. The United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, originally agreed to in 1982, was designed to allow countries to clearly define areas of control off their coastline. An island controlled by a country is entitled to “territorial waters” of 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) as well as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — whose resources, such as fish — the country can exploit, of up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres). A rock owned by a state will also generate a 12 nautical mile territorial border but not an economic zone under UNCLOS, while a low-tide elevation grants no territorial benefits at all. Both China and the Philippines are signatories to the UNCLOS, as is Việt Nam.”

Department of State Press Release on Hague Ruling. “The decision today by the Tribunal in the Philippines-China arbitration is an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea. We are still studying the decision and have no comment on the merits of the case, but some important principles have been clear from the beginning of this case and are worth restating. The United States strongly supports the rule of law. We support efforts to resolve territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea peacefully, including through arbitration. When joining the Law of the Sea Convention, parties agree to the Convention’s compulsory dispute settlement process to resolve disputes. In today’s decision and in its decision from October of last year, the Tribunal unanimously found that the Philippines was acting within its rights under the Convention in initiating this arbitration. As provided in the Convention, the Tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines. The United States expresses its hope and expectation that both parties will comply with their obligations. In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions. This decision can and should serve as a new opportunity to renew efforts to address maritime disputes peacefully. We encourage claimants to clarify their maritime claims in accordance with international law -- as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention -- and to work together to manage and resolve their disputes. Such steps could provide the basis for further discussions aimed at narrowing the geographic scope of their maritime disputes, setting standards for behavior in disputed areas, and ultimately resolving their underlying disputes free from coercion or the use or threat of force.”

China’s Claim to Most of South China Sea Has No Legal Basis, Court Says. Jeremy Page, Wall Street Journal. “An international tribunal ruled on Tuesday that China’s claims to historic and economic rights in most of the South China Sea have no legal basis, dealing a severe setback to Beijing that could intensify its efforts to establish its control by force. The tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China couldn’t claim historic rights in all the waters within a “nine-dash” line used by Beijing to delineate its South China Sea claims. That was the most significant element of an unprecedented legal challenge to China’s claims that was brought in 2013 by the Philippines, one of five governments whose claims in the South China Sea overlap with China’s under the nine-dash line. In another blow for Beijing, the tribunal decided that China wasn’t entitled to an exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, extending up to 200 nautical miles from any outcrop in the Spratlys archipelago including the largest, Itu Aba, which is claimed by China but controlled by Taiwan. “This deals a direct blow to China’s most fundamental claim in the South China Sea,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, of the tribunal’s decision on Beijing’s nine-dash line. “The tribunal ruling appears to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines’s claims, even more so than expected.” The ruling, based on a United Nations convention on maritime law, comes after several years of escalating tension in the region as China has alarmed the U.S. and its allies by using its rapidly expanding naval and air power to assert territorial claims and challenge U.S. military supremacy in Asia. The Philippines case is seen as a test of China’s commitment to a rules-based international order which the U.S. and its allies say has been undermined by Beijing’s recent military activities, including construction of seven fortified artificial islands in the South China Sea. China didn’t take part in the tribunal, which it said had no jurisdiction on the case, and Chinese officials have said repeatedly in recent weeks that Beijing won't comply with the ruling. The unanimous ruling by the tribunal’s five judges is legally binding for China and the Philippines but can only be enforced through international pressure. The ruling on Itu Aba is important because the U.N. maritime convention allows countries to build artificial islands in their own EEZs, and all of the seven structures China has built lie within 200 nautical miles of Itu Aba, which Taiwan calls Taiping Island. The tribunal said that neither Itu Aba or any other Spratlys outcrop met the legal definition of a natural island that could support human habitation. That also means that China has no legal claim to an EEZ overlapping that of the Philippines. Shortly after the ruling, China’s Foreign Ministry said China neither accepts nor recognizes it, declaring it “null and void” and without “binding force.” It said China would continue to abide by international law and “basic norms” governing international relations. China’s Defense Ministry said the decision wouldn’t affect its approach in the South China Sea and that it would ”unswervingly protect the nation’s sovereignty, security and maritime rights.” The Philippines welcomed the ruling. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay called it a “milestone” in efforts to address regional disputes and called on “those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.” On Chinese social-media platforms, users expressed defiance. “On territorial issues there’s no room for debate. In my view, territory to a country is like life to humanity,” wrote one user. Many echoed the government’s line on the verdict, heaping scorn on the process. “To Chinese people, the South China Sea ruling is just a piece of waste paper—they can take it and throw it directly in the trash,” wrote one. The “waste paper” language had previously been invoked by a veteran Chinese diplomat in a speech in Washington. Numerous users expressed a distinct anger with the U.S., which China views as having pushed the Philippines to bring the suit to advance its own position in the region. The U.S. and its allies, including all of the Group of Seven large industrialized democracies and the 28 members of the European Union, have publicly expressed their support for the arbitration process. In a statement ahead of a meeting between EU leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk raised the issue of the Tuesday ruling. “The rule-based international order is in our common interest and both China and the EU have to protect it, as this is in our people’s best interest,” Mr. Tusk said. An EU official said that following the comments, Mr. Li set aside the planned agenda for Tuesday’s meetings to present the Chinese view on the ruling and on human-rights issues. Those topics were supposed to be discussed Wednesday. Later Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing wouldn’t accept any claims based on the ruling, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. In the tense buildup to the ruling, a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group and other navy ships have been patrolling in the South China Sea, while China held military exercises in the area over the last seven days. Just minutes after the ruling was made public on Tuesday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that a government-chartered Cessna CE-680, marketed as a midsize corporate jet, successfully completed test flights to new airports on Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, the two largest of the artificial islands it has built in the Spratlys. In another damaging setback for Beijing, the tribunal ruled that China couldn’t claim 12 nautical miles of territorial seas around Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, which both have airstrips. That means that U.S. and foreign naval ships can legally come within 12 nautical miles of those two structures without restriction. However, the tribunal did rule that China had a right to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters around five more of its artificial islands. The tribunal ruled that China had violated the Philippines sovereignty in its EEZ by building artificial islands, interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration, and failing to prevent Chinese fishing boats from operating there. It said China had interfered with Philippine fishing boats exercising their traditional fishing rights around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. It said that China hadn’t fulfilled its legal obligation to stop Chinese fishermen from harming the environment in the South China Sea. And it said China’s island building had violated the obligations of a state during the dispute resolution process. One of the few decisions that went against the Philippines was the tribunal’s ruling that it didn’t have jurisdiction to decide whether China had blocked Philippine ships from relieving marines based on another disputed outcrop, Second Thomas Shoal. The case was brought by the previous Philippine government. New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a different stance, suggesting that he might be willing to negotiate directly with China. China says dozens of countries—many of them small, developing nations—support its position, although only a handful of them have issued their own statements explicitly backing Beijing’s right to ignore the tribunal. U.S. officials have warned that China could respond to the ruling by starting land reclamation at another disputed reef near the Philippines, or declaring an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. China hasn’t announced any such plans, but says it has the right to do both.”

Posted by Alex Gray | July 11, 2016

The U.S.-China 'Thucydides Trap': A View from Beijing. Mo Shengkai and Chen Yue, The National Interest. “China’s rising comes as the most pronounced but complicated feature of the twenty-first century. In the past few years, people over the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, have witnessed increasing tensions in U.S.-Chinese relations, from all levels and in a wide range of areas. Graham Allison, a world-famous expert on international security and also the founding dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was the first person to combine the concept of the “Thucydides Trap” with the analysis of China’s ongoing rise, with recent commentaries published in global influential newspapers and websites such as the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Atlantic. In those articles, he warned that over the past five hundred years of human history, twelve of all sixteen cases of global tensions resulted in shooting wars. What’s more, he argued that a Thucydides trap has arisen between the United States and China in the western Pacific in recent years. Thereafter, some world-class masters, including Zheng Yongnian, Robert Zoellick, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Patrick Porter and T. J. Pempel, followed in using this popular term when talking about U.S.-Chinese relations today or in the years ahead, regardless of their personal attitudes toward such a pessimistic term. Its impact was so great that China’s President, Xi Jinping, had to respond to it publicly once again during his state visit to the United States, when he delivered an address to local governments and friendly groups in Seattle. He presented himself as a constructivist IR scholar, in the eyes of skeptical American realists, by emphasizing the importance of mutual intentions and interactions while rejecting the pessimistic prospect of bilateral relations projected by the widespread identification of a so-called “Thucydides Trap” between the two countries. Unfortunately, it is the constructivists that always remind us that either discourse or prediction might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most scholars in China reject the so-called metaphor from history and regard this simplistic historical analogy as the newest vision of the longstanding “China Threat Theory.” However, from an academic point of view, theoretical and empirical analysis is still necessary. Objectively speaking, the widespread use of the term “Thucydides Trap” just indicates a period when a rapidly rising power has obviously narrowed the gap between itself and the system’s dominant power, simultaneously stirring up fears and anxieties in other countries that are satisfied with the existing distribution of power. As Allison himself puts it, the two crucial variables are rise and fear. The real risk associated with the “Thucydides Trap” is that business as usual—not just an unexpected, extraordinary event—can trigger large-scale conflict. War is not destined, though risks undoubtedly become very high compared with other periods in the bilateral relationship. Similarly, it implies a period in which all countries, especially emerging and ruling powers, should be very cautious in dealing with their relationships and divergences if neither has any intentions to embark upon a devastating war. We will now illustrate the concrete scenarios of the gathering “Thucydides Trap” between the two giants. Some observers of U.S.-China relations describe the most prominent features of bilateral relations in 2015 as a battle over rules. The most important element of an international system is defined by its key norms and rules. As Allison has pointed out, the defining question of global order in the decades ahead will be whether China and the United States can escape the Thucydides trap. In the eyes of sensitive Americans, China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” strategy was nothing more than a parody of the Marshall Plan. Additionally, China’s global efforts to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank encountered resistance from an implicit U.S.-Japanese joint-led coalition. Generally speaking, a battle over rules is visible from both the security and economic dimensions. In the dimension of security, the most eye-catching problem is the still escalating dispute over the freedom of navigation (FON) and overflight in the South China Sea. It has been a longstanding dispute between the two countries, and has already caused severe crises in 1994, 2001 and 2009. This time it was reinvigorated by China’s unparalleled artificial island construction in the South China Sea, in response to the deliberate provocations of the Philippines and Vietnam. For China’s part, its actions are justifiable to defend its territorial integrity without any room for retreat, when considering surging public opinion and the very high political audience cost that the Chinese government has suffered. However, on the side of the United States, as the asymmetric theory of IR has suggested and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Daniel Russell has repeated on several occasions, it is not a matter of rocks but rules. U.S. officials believe that its position on FON is universal rather than directed against a specific country, and the United States has been conducting FON operations in many regions, and against many countries of concern, since the 1980s. If it does not react to China’s island construction in the South China Sea with enough toughness, it will consequently send signals to its allies and the world at large that the United States admits its decline and is appeasing China, which will seriously erode the international order built by its overwhelming hegemonic power after World War II and damage its reputation as the leading power of East Asia, not to mention that the Philippines is its formal military ally with clear military obligations. It seems unlikely that either China or the United States will compromise. Given that the United States has promised to continue its cruises and overflight operations within the twelve nautical miles of China’s islands, and that senior military officials have intermittently delivered harsh speeches, the accidental risk of military conflict persists. In the economic dimension, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a perfect example. Benefiting from its entrance into the WTO, China’s economy has doubled several times since then, while the U.S. economy was exhausted by its two global wars on terrorism. After the 2008 financial crisis, there emerged a widespread perception (perhaps just a misperception) that in East Asia, a dual-center structure was emerging, in which the United States remained the traditional security center while leaving its place to China as the new economic center. Ever since the financial crisis, Americans have been in a state of unconfident anxiety, watching China’s diplomacy turn from keeping a low profile to striving for achievement. To secure its leading position in the region, the Obama administration is eagerly promoting a new free-trade agreement with high standards in the Asia-Pacific, closed to China in the negotiation stage, as an important component of its “Rebalance Strategy.” Therefore, there are two approaches to regional trade and investment liberation, that is, the coexistence of the negotiation processes of both TPP and RCEP, which are strongly backed by the United States and China respectively. The true story of the struggle between TPP and RCEP can be interpreted as a strategic rivalry on economic rules between the two countries. In other words, the two FTAs’ explicit frameworks reflect the implicit dual centers of the power structure in the region. As President Obama expressed publicly in his 2016 State of the Union speech, with TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in the region—the United States does. Of course, the complex effects on U.S. domestic politics make the prospects of this battle much fuzzier than those in the security dimension mentioned above.”

China’s Other Sea Offensive. Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal. “Chinese encroachment in the South China Sea could earn a rebuke Tuesday when a United Nations court issues its ruling in a case brought by the Philippines. But recent Chinese actions in the East China Sea also deserve attention. “Chinese activity is escalating at sea and in the air,” Japan’s top military commander, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, warned last month. From April to June, Japan scrambled fighter jets against Chinese planes approaching its airspace a record 199 times, double last year’s pace. These encounters increasingly occur around Japan’s small and uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which China calls the Diaoyu and claims for itself. On June 17 a pair of Japanese F-15s nearly got into a dogfight with two approaching Chinese Su-30 fighters. Beijing says Japan’s planes used fire-control radar to “light up” the Chinese jets, a move that could signal an impending attack. Tokyo denies this, but its planes apparently did fire infrared decoy flares, a sign they thought they were under attack. In 2013 Japan accused a Chinese frigate of engaging fire-control radar against a Japanese vessel in the East China Sea, which Beijing denied. Another recent episode was like something out of a Tom Clancy novel. Around 1 a.m. on June 9, a Chinese warship for the first time entered the 24-mile zone around the Senkakus, which China previously probed with coast guard ships. A Russian destroyer happened to be there at the same time, having entered hours before from a different direction. At one point the Chinese vessel sailed directly toward an island, as if preparing a landing, until changing course and exiting with the Russian ship around 3 a.m. By that point officials in Tokyo had summoned the Chinese ambassador from his bed. Beijing claims its actions were “reasonable and legitimate” because the waters, like the nearby islands, are Chinese. Moscow says its ship was on routine patrol. Neither side admits to coordinating with the other, but Tokyo suspects otherwise and is justifiably spooked by the prospect of joint Sino-Russian bullying. All this signals a turn from 2014, when China moderated its East China Sea behavior after the U.S. clarified that its defense treaty with Japan covers the Senkakus. As if to punctuate the point, a Chinese fighter jet last month carried out a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the sea. Japan has one of the world’s best navies and coast guards and has recently strengthened its ties with U.S. forces. But China increasingly arms its coast guard with retrofitted navy ships and other vessels that dwarf their Japanese counterparts in size and firepower. The Haijing 2901, deployed to the East China Sea last year, is the world’s largest coast-guard vessel at more than 10,000 tons, larger than a U.S. Navy destroyer. As China’s military power increases, so does its appetite for risk. Stronger U.S.-Japan ties, and Tuesday’s likely rebuke from the U.N. tribunal, impose some costs on Beijing’s behavior. But the U.S. and its allies will have to do more if they want to curb Chinese adventurism.”

China Conducts Combat Drills In South China Sea. Wyatt Olson, Stars and Stripes. “Chinese navy ships have conducted combat drills Friday near its most southern province of Hainan and the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, China’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday. The drills come on the heels of the announcement this week by the United States and South Korea to deploy a THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. China’s Foreign Ministry said it “firmly opposes” that deployment. The drills come just days away from the expected ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12 on a case filed by the Philippines over disputed territory in the South China Sea. China has said it will not abide by the findings of the arbitration court. Ships from China’s northern, eastern and southern fleets took part in the drills, which the state-run news agency Xinhua called an “annual routine military exercise that covered all sorts of combat platforms, including the air arm, submarine, surface vessel and coastal defense force.” The focus was on “air control operations, sea battles and anti-submarine warfare,” Xinhua said.”

Taiwan Pivots Away from China, Towards the South. Kyle Churchman, The National Interest. “Taiwan is laying the groundwork for a major charm offensive towards Southeast Asian nations and India in an effort to gain a strong foothold in these fast-growing economies and to diversify its economic relations away from China. China and Hong Kong together absorb nearly 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports, with exports accounting for 70 percent of the island’s GDP. The Tsai Ing-wen administration’s New Southbound Policy seeks to promote tourism, industrial cooperation and a broad array of exchanges spanning the education, culture and technology fields with the nations of ASEAN and South Asia. It is a creative “people-focused” strategy aimed at knitting Taiwan into the economic and social fabric of these dynamic regions in the absence of official diplomatic ties. It also appears designed to mitigate Taiwan’s economic marginalization in a rapidly integrating region, which is by and large the result of Chinese opposition to Taiwan’s signing of bilateral and regional trade agreements. As indicated in its name, the New Southbound Policy is a novel approach to redirect Taiwan’s trade-dependent economy to other parts of Asia from the Chinese market. Beginning in 1994, then Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui championed a “Go South” policy that urged Taiwan businesspeople to invest in Southeast Asia. The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and its fallout, however, spooked Taiwan investors away from ASEAN towards China, the latter having begun sweeping market reforms under the stewardship of Premier Zhu Rongji (1998-2003). Lee’s successor Chen Shui-bian attempted to reintroduce Lee’s “Go South” policy in 2002, but this proved largely ineffective as Taiwan investors continued to perceive the Mainland as a more attractive investment destination. Chen’s 2001 decision to lift longstanding restrictions on investment in China combined with explosive Chinese growth throughout the first decade of this century served only to accelerate cross-Strait commercial ties. Whereas these prior initiatives focused almost exclusively on trade investment figures, the Tsai government claims its new Southern-directed strategy is multifaceted in its additional emphasis on soft, people-to-people elements. It is also now targeting South Asian nations, particularly India—the region’s economic powerhouse that is pushing to become a global manufacturing hub under Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” scheme. It also envisions ASEAN not merely as a manufacturing base, but as an extension of Taiwan’s domestic market whereby Taiwan products and services meet the consumption needs of region’s burgeoning middle class. Signaling the importance President Tsai attaches to the New Southbound Policy, she named former ROC Foreign Minister James Huang (2006–08)—a close confidante—to head a task force inside the presidential office that will spearhead the initiative and coordinate among Taiwan’s government ministries, relevant industries and educational institutions. This New Southbound Policy Office, whose founding guidelines were approved by Tsai on June 15, will ramp up its operations in in the coming weeks, with Mr. Huang required to periodically brief Tsai on overall strategy and project implementation. Taiwan has already unveiled a number of proposals that help to form the nuts and bolts of the New Southbound Policy. It recently added Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to the list of Southeast Asian nations it currently offers streamlined visa application procedures, and is even considering the inclusion of all ten ASEAN nations into its visa-waiver program. The Taiwan Ministry of Education will allocate funding for Taiwan youth to conduct internships in Southeast and South Asia, as well as provide scholarships to citizens of ASEAN nations to study in Taiwan. The establishment of a national-level think tank for ASEAN and South Asia studies is also in the pipeline. Asia’s shifting economic landscape undergirds the logic of the Tsai administration’s Southern pivot. India outpaced China as the world’s fastest-growing large economy in both 2014 and 2015, whereas ASEAN nations are poised to experience robust growth in the coming decades thanks to their young populations and the ongoing formation of a single regional market and production base, the ASEAN Economic Community. Meanwhile, rising labor prices in China and the overall Chinese economic slowdown are leading Taiwan corporations to consider alternative locales to build manufacturing facilities. Most notably, Foxconn—one of Taiwan’s largest companies and a key supplier to Apple—announced in August 2015 that it plans to invest $5 billion in a manufacturing plant and a R&D center in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Taiwan’s relatively paltry trade statistics with India and Indonesia—the latter alone accounting for nearly 40 percent of ASEAN’s economic output—demonstrate great potential for growth. In 2015, Taiwan’s exports to India and Indonesia totaled approximately $2.9 billion and $3 billion, respectively. By comparison, Taiwan’s economic archrival South Korea exported $12.2 billion in goods to India and $7.8 billion in goods to Indonesia. These opportunities notwithstanding, Taiwan’s Northeast Asian competitors have been making inroads into ASEAN and India in recent years, lending urgency to the implementation of the new policy. Since 2006, South Korea, Japan and China successively signed free trade agreements with ASEAN; Seoul and Tokyo also inked “economic partnership” agreements with New Delhi in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Seoul in 2009 established the ASEAN-Korea Centre that has served as the principal conduit for its economic and cultural engagement with Southeast Asian nations. The countries of Southeast and South Asia are also poised to play a prominent role in Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative in the coming years. Hence, with Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing all rushing into ASEAN and South Asia, Taipei is endeavoring to make a big push over the next five years to make up for its “late start.”

Beijing Establishes A D.C. Think Tank, And No One Notices. Isaac Stone Fish, Foreign Policy. “Despite its advocacy for Beijing’s controversial and important position in the disputed South China Sea, the Institute for China-American Studies (ICAS) — the only Chinese think tank based in Washington D.C. — has been unable to rise from obscurity. Google their initials and they come up on the third page, behind the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, the International Council of Air Shows, and the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, a tribe in Alaska. It has all of 46 Twitter followers. While U.S. scholars respect some of executive director Hong Nong’s work on China’s claims in the disputed South China Sea — the focus of the think tank’s five-person staff — ICAS is almost entirely unknown outside a narrow band of China watchers in the U.S. think tank community. Even Patrick Ho, who runs the China Energy Fund, one of the only other Mainland Chinese think tanks active in the United States — the exact number is unknown, but estimates range from two to roughly a dozen — said he has never heard of ICAS. “I don’t know if they [even] have a reputation yet,” said the South China Sea scholar Bonnie Glaser. “They have been pretty low-profile.” On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an influential international court in the Hague, will announce its ruling on a controversial case between the Philippines and China over the legality of Beijing’s claims of much of the disputed South China Sea. Beijing has refused to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction over this case. Instead, over the last year, it has been waging a public relations battle in Washington, trying to convince policymakers that its territorial claims are valid. Many in Beijing feel that either the United States fundamentally misunderstands China’s policies, or that it’s biased against China. Either way, Beijing believes educating the United States about China will improve the perception of the Middle Kingdom in the United States. And that, so the thinking goes, will allow Beijing greater international latitude. ICAS, whichopened in April 2015 with a high-profile conference featuring Henry Kissinger in a pre-recorded, is part of this strategy. “My mission,” Hong said, “is to send a clear message” about China’s claims and policies in the South China Sea. And yet, Beijing has been mostly unsuccessful in building international support for its South China Sea claims. One reason is the perceived weakness of its legal case. Most experts, at least outside of China, seem to agree that the Permanent Court of Arbitration will rule in the Philippines favor. “China’s claim that it can legally ignore the pending arbitral award is not only wrong, it is legally insupportable,” Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional law at Hosftra University, wrote on the blog Lawfare. The other reason is Beijing’s misunderstanding of how U.S. public opinions and institutions work. Just as Beijing disparages Washington’s ignorance of China, the various parts of the Chinese system can be surprisingly daft in their understanding of U.S. institutions and the media ecosystem that surrounds them. And that is the context in which ICAS — an organization whose main reason of existence is to attract attention, influence policymakers, and join the D.C. conversation — has had so little impact. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), doesn’t think it’s because they are spies — a plausible explanation for a Chinese organization that gathers and disseminates information. “Obviously people will suspect that they’re playing some intelligence role. But they’re not very aggressive,” she said. Rather, most of those interviewed for this story — roughly a dozen academics, think tank staff, and China watchers, the kind of people who traffic in acronyms and appreciate the intricacies of relevancy in Washington — have concluded that the problem is ineffectiveness.”

For China, A Missile Defense System In South Korea Spells A Failed Courtship. Jane Perlez, The New York Times. “However isolated North Korea may be, it has long had one major ally: China. But for two years, China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, seemed to be favoring Pyongyang’s neighbor and nemesis to the south. He spent much political capital wooing South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, in hopes of drawing the country away from its longtime ally, the United States. He made an elaborate state visit to Seoul while shunning North Korea and its young leader, Kim Jong-un, whom he has yet to meet. Ms. Park returned the favor last year, coming to Beijing for a major military parade at Tiananmen Square, the only leader of an American ally to attend. But on Friday, it became clear that Mr. Xi’s efforts had fallen short. In announcing plans to deploy an advanced American missile defense system in South Korean, Ms. Park’s government showed that it was embracing its alliance with Washington more than ever, and that it would rely less on China to keep North Korea and its nuclear arsenal at bay. In Beijing, the decision was seen as a major setback, one that went beyond its interests on the Korean Peninsula to the larger strategic question of an arms race in Northeast Asia that could impel China — and Russia — to develop more sophisticated weapons. Analysts said the deployment of the so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, would reinforce the already high level of mistrust in United States-China relations as the Obama administration nears its end, adding to the raw nerves over disputes in the South China Sea and differences over American business access to the Chinese market. And North Korea, an issue on which there had been some common ground between the two powers — at least when it came to the latest round of United Nations sanctions — is likely to become a greater source of irritation, as China loses an incentive to be tougher on the regime. On Saturday, North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast at 11:30 a.m., the South Korean military said. The missile was successfully ejected from the submarine, it said, but failed in the first stage of flight. The North also tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in April. In announcing the American missile defense system, which has been under discussion for years, the top commander of the United States military in South Korea, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, said Friday that it was needed to protect South Korea from the North’s nuclear weapons. But Chinese officials have repeatedly said that they do not believe the North Korean threat is the true reason for the American-initiated deployment. Rather, they say, the purpose of the Thaad system, which detects and intercepts incoming missiles at high altitudes, is to track missiles launched from China. Now that the system’s implementation has been confirmed, China will almost certainly consider developing more advanced missiles as a countermeasure, said Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at Renmin University in Beijing and a North Korea expert.  “A way to deal with Thaad — a shield — is to sharpen your spear,” Mr. Cheng said. The possibility of the Thaad deployment has bedeviled relations between Washington and Beijing for more than a year. Last month, Mr. Xi and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia made a point of denouncing the Thaad system during Mr. Putin’s visit to Beijing, equating it with the American-built Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system deployed in some NATO countries. The implicit message was that the United States was trying to encircle China in the same way that, according to Mr. Putin, it was trying to contain Russia. Before Mr. Putin’s visit, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, expressed the Chinese view that the Thaad system is a strategic game-changer in Northeast Asia. “The Thaad system has far exceeded the need for defense in the Korean Peninsula and will undermine the security interests of China and Russia, shatter the regional strategic balance and trigger an arms race,” Mr. Wang said. China understands South Korea’s “rational need” for defense, he said, “but we can’t understand and we will not accept why they made a deployment exceeding the need.” Chinese analysts have said that they expect Japan to eventually deploy Thaad as well, in what they say would be an American attempt to draw it closer into a three-way alliance with South Korea. So far, Japan has shown little interest in the Thaad system, but Washington and Tokyo are jointly working on a new missile interceptor that is expected to start production in 2017. Talks between Seoul and Washington on the Thaad deployment picked up speed after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January. After that test, which Pyongyang claimed was of a hydrogen bomb, Ms. Park tried but failed to reach Mr. Xi by telephone, according to South Korean news reports that were later confirmed by Chinese officials. The nuclear test left Ms. Park convinced that Mr. Xi could not rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and that China was uninterested in her “trustpolitik” strategy of finding ways to engage with the North while responding strongly to provocations, South Korean officials said. In March, South Korea and the United States began formal talks on the Thaad deployment. China tried to persuade Ms. Park to accommodate Beijing’s interests by asking for technical adjustments to the system, under which its radar would penetrate less deeply into China, according to Wu Xinbo, the director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. But those adjustments were not made, he said. Some in South Korea have expressed concern that China, the country’s top trading partner, might engage in economic retaliation for the Thaad deployment. Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst with the Sejong Institute in Seongnam, south of Seoul, said China could reduce the number of tourists it allows into the country or boycott some South Korean goods. Mr. Wu said Beijing was unlikely to take such measures in this period of slower economic growth. But he said the debate over North Korea among senior Chinese leaders would almost certainly be reshaped, with officials who favor better relations with Pyongyang gaining more influence, after two years of Mr. Xi keeping its isolated neighbor at a distance. “The school in favor of a more balanced approach to North Korea will get more sway,” Mr. Wu said.”

Chinese Language Newspapers In Australia: Beijing Controls Messaging, Propaganda In Press. Kelsey Munro and Philip Wen, Sydney Morning Herald. “It can come in the form of an admonishing phone call, blocking reporters from a public event, via directives for mainland-linked businesses to pull advertising, or even direct investment from Chinese government bodies. One way or another, Beijing has extended its messaging control over almost all the Chinese language media in Australia, Australian Chinese media sources say. Politically sensitive or unfavourable coverage of China and the ruling Communist Party has been effectively stopped outside all but a couple of Chinese language outlets, as the government steps up efforts to filter what the Chinese diaspora consumes. "Nearly 95 per cent of the Australian Chinese newspapers have been brought in by the Chinese government to some degree," said an editor who works at a pro-Chinese government publication in Australia, speaking on condition of anonymity. The terms for the media are clear: "To report the good news about the Chinese government, not the bad news of course," the editor said. The tactics employed involve both stick and carrot, and exploit the commercial pressures small independent publications routinely face. Advertisers, usually Chinese-owned firms or businesses which rely on good relations with the Chinese government, are told by consulate officials to pull advertising from non-compliant media outlets, and are directed instead to divert their dollars to those who toe the party line, the editor said. Consular advertising budgets are directed to friendly media, and Australian Chinese newspapers rely on the income stream from state-owned publications in China paying to place several editorial pages – which are laid out in China – in each edition. The end result, the editor said, is that almost all the Australian Chinese newspapers only publish what the Chinese government wants them to.  An independent Australian Chinese-language newspaper and website in Sydney, which has defied Chinese consular pressure to censor sensitive subjects including the recent anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, told Fairfax Media it has had advertisers pull out after Chinese consular and government pressure. In one instance earlier this year, kitchen appliance manufacturers from Zhejiang Province withdrew their one-year advertising contracts after a Chinese government official visiting Australia saw the ads and asked the companies to do so, the sources say. Fairfax Media has seen emails and text messages from two of the companies terminating their contracts, which say it was necessary "due to urgent instructions from Ningbo Zhejiang government". It is not only Chinese-owned businesses coming under pressure, but businesses that rely on the Chinese market. An independent Australian Chinese-language newspaper told Fairfax Media it had struck a deal to supply its publications to a 5-star hotel, the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, early last year. Weeks later, following publication of a story about an SBS investigation into organ harvesting in China, the hotel told the newspaper it was cancelling the deal. "Our newspaper was invited by the Sofitel marketing team to be in their lobby as reading material for Chinese travellers," a statement from the media outlet's board of directors says. "However, after a few weeks, Sofitel received a call from the Chinese Consulate asking them to remove our newspaper or face financial consequences. Sofitel does a lot of business with China." A spokeswoman for the hotel declined to comment. The newspapers were removed in March last year. At the Fair Work Ombudsman's launch of its Chinese communications strategy earlier this year at Zilver restaurant in Sydney's Chinatown, two local reporters from the Epoch Times, the US-headquartered, Falun Gong-aligned newspaper which is regularly critical of China's human rights record, were asked by the Ombudsman's office to leave after a Chinese consular official saw them there. A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman said the incident was the responsibility of a "third-party provider" who drew up the invite list. "Unfortunately, as the proceedings were about to commence, the third-party provider advised the Fair Work Ombudsman that Chinese Consular representatives who were assisting with the launch objected to the attendance of The Epoch Times at the function because of issues or disputes unknown to the Fair Work Ombudsman," the spokeswoman said. Both the Ombudsman's office and the "third-party provider" subsequently apologised to the Epoch Times for their treatment, which was "sincerely regretted", she said. Fairfax Media made multiple requests for comment on the allegations to the Chinese Embassy in Canberra and the Chinese consulate in Sydney, but received no response. Chongyi Feng, an associate professor of China Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney founded the short-lived Chinese-language newspaper Sydney Times in 2006. He has first-hand experience of the heavy-handed pressure exerted by Chinese officials. As well as coming under the commercial pressure of advertisements being pulled, he said the Chinese consulate would make thinly-veiled threats about interfering with his academic work by blocking collaboration with Chinese universities and restricting his ability to obtain visas to travel to the mainland. He says his newspaper was not commercially viable once advertisers pulled out and he had to close it.”

More HK People Giving Up Passports. Li Xueying, The Straits Times. “A few months ago, a 36-year-old European national gave birth to a boy in Hong Kong. All went smoothly but she and her husband faced one quandary. Given that the woman is of partial Chinese ethnicity - her mother is a Chinese Malaysian - her son would have been entitled to a Hong Kong passport. China's nationality law allows those of Chinese descent who are born on Chinese soil to get one. But she and her husband decided not to take up the option, even though Hong Kong allows for multiple citizenship. China, she fears, could "lay claim" to her son, such as if "he is in a sticky situation in China and is treated as Chinese rather than European". The recent saga of the five Hong Kong booksellers, who many believe were abducted by mainland agents for trading in gossipy books about Beijing leaders, cemented her decision. One of the booksellers, Mr Lee Bo, holds both Hong Kong and British passports. When Britain sought access to him, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi's retort was: He is "first and foremost a Chinese citizen". To the European woman, who has lived in Hong Kong for eight years, the situation is "just too precarious for me to want my child to be a Chinese citizen", she told The Straits Times. A sense of disquiet about Hong Kong's future is giving both locals and parts of the overseas community here pause for thought, as they ponder what lies ahead for themselves and their families. Questions are being raised about whether the "one country, two systems" framework that allows the special administrative region to operate autonomously from the mainland is being eroded. Signs indicate increasing interference by Beijing: Mr Lee, the bookseller, was reportedly nabbed by mainland agents within Hong Kong in what would then be a breach of the formula. His colleague Lam Wing Kee said he was denied access to lawyers and family during his eight-month detention on the mainland. Partly driven by such fears, an increasing number of Hong Kongers are giving up their Hong Kong passports, reported local media. In the first quarter of this year, 56 people renounced it, compared to 33 per quarter in the past five years. Immigration agencies also say an unprecedented number of Hong Kongers are contemplating emigrating, since the 1997 handover from British rule. This is in line with a recent survey that shows that nearly half would leave if they could, many also citing quality of life issues such as unaffordable housing . Ms Mary Chan of Rothe International Canada says a key turning point was the 2014 Occupy movement, when protesters tried - and failed - to agitate for more freedom to elect their leader. The number of enquiries she received doubled from a daily average of one or two. Other agencies, Paul Bernadou & Co and Luxe Legal Group, report similar trends. The actual numbers remain low though, compared to the exodus after the bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, leading up to 1997. Statistics from the Security Bureau show that in 1995, 43,100 Hong Kongers emigrated. Last year, just 7,000 did so - a small increase from 6,900 the previous year. The top three destinations are the United States, Australia and Canada. Mr Paul Bernadou, the founder of the migration consultancy, explains that the most recent figures reflect a lag as families take time to finalise their decisions and wait for the applications to be processed. A 40-year-old man, who wants to be known only as Mr Cheung, is among those applying to emigrate. He began the process last June and expects to move his family to Canada next year. While firmly part of the city's middle class - he and his wife, both public servants, have a joint monthly income of HK$160,000 (S$27,800) - he believes that prospects for their children, aged six and three, are dim. He reels off a litany of concerns: education, property prices, food safety, overcrowding. He also fears Hong Kong's freedoms are being stifled, citing the booksellers episode. "The freedoms of the Hong Kong people are diminishing," he asserts. "When people speak up, Beijing thinks its authority is being challenged. And it will take steps to make you shut up." He adds: "Before, we loved Hong Kong. Now we are just disappointed about what it's become." Such perceptions are also creating jitters among foreigners here who hold the dark-blue Hong Kong passport with the People's Republic of China emblem, as well as their original passports. While China does not allow for dual nationality, Hong Kong does. And the Hong Kong passport remains a highly desirable one, ranking 20th, with visa-free access to 154 countries. It also grants easy access to mainland China, a burgeoning economy. But the booksellers episode has raised an issue that is rarely discussed: To what extent are dual nationals accorded the diplomatic protection of their second passport when in China, including Hong Kong? It varies according to the country, says law professor and associate dean (research) Simon Young, of the University of Hong Kong.”

Taiwan's "Cyber Army" Plan. Paul Huang, Project 2049 Institute. “Taiwan's new Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) recently confirmed the intention of the new government to create a "Cyber Army" (網軍) as the fourth branch of Taiwan's armed forces. The announcement followed the plan outlined in the Defense Policy Blue Papers published earlier by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which specifically called for the "[Integration of] existing military units and capacities of IT, communications, and electronics to establish an independent fourth service branch alongside the current Armed Forces consisting of the Army, Navy, and Air Force."[1] Looking ahead, it will be fruitful to observe what the new Cyber Army can add on top of Taiwan's existing cybersecurity and cyberwarfare structure. It is easy to see where the impetus for establishing a Cyber Army came from; for many years Taiwan has been on the frontlines of the battle against the ever-intensifying cyber attacks from China. This has reached such an extent that observers and even Taiwanese officials acknowledged Taiwan as a "testing ground" for China's cyber army and state-sponsored hackers. The case of the 2015 hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) further illustrates the ambitions and capabilities on the part of the Chinese hackers and the dear consequences of failing to stop such an attack.  Similar organizations dedicated to cybersecurity and combined defensive and offensive cyberwarfare capabilities have been established in other countries, such as the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and South Korea's National Cyber Command (NCC). Moreover, President Obama ordered the creation of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity earlier this year. Though the Commission serves only as an advisory role, it is yet another move by the administration to address the ever-more prominent issue of cybersecurity. Taiwan's plan for a Cyber Army however, will make it the first country to assign equal importance to cybersecurity as to the other branches of the armed forces.  It should be noted that Taiwan already has a fairly sophisticated cybersecurity and cyberwarfare structure in place. Currently the principle agency in Taiwan specifically tasked with conducting combined defensive and offensive cyberwarfare operations is the Information and Electronic Warfare Command that reports directly to the Ministry of National Defense (MND)'s General Staff Headquarters. Commanded by a Major General with about 2,400 staff under its jurisdiction, the Information and Electronic Warfare Command performs just about every function one can expect of a Cyber Army. In addition, the National Security Bureau (NSB), Taiwan's principle intelligence agency, also operates a 7th Department as the National Cybersecurity Department, with the primary responsibilities of monitoring and safeguarding Taiwan's civilian cyberspace and to help defend against national security threats.  It is expected that the new Cyber Army will directly appropriate the Information and Electronic Warfare Command together with other agencies under the MND that are related to the operations and managements of signals or electronic intelligence - such as the Office for Communications, Electronics and Information under the MND's General Staff Headquarters. It has also been reported that the size of this new Cyber Army will reach 6,000 strong and become fully operational by 2019 at the latest. The promotion of a "fourth branch" among the existing armed forces raises some implications.  Currently there are only eight full (three star) Generals in Taiwan's military, which include the three Chiefs of the Command Headquarters of Army, Navy, and Air Force, Minister and two Deputy Ministers of Defense, Chief of the General Staff, and Deputy Chief of the General Staff. The creation of a Cyber Army branch would necessitate the promotion of another three star General to head its Command Headquarters, or to transfer an existing one to the position. It is likely that the Cyber Army General will be one that has a Signal Corps background or otherwise has extensive experience in commanding information related units or staff offices. The new Cyber Army also makes it official that the military's priority is no longer just safeguarding its internal network, but the whole civilian internet as well. Just as many other militaries around the world, Taiwan's military relies on an intranet network (known as the "military network") that is physically separated from the civilian internet (the World Wide Web) for obvious security reasons.  Many computers and networking devices used inside Taiwan's military bases and installations likely have also been altered to accept only connections that conform to the military network protocol. As such, the new Cyber Army will likely be divided to handle two categorically distinctive areas - that of the Internet network (civilian) and that the of Intranet network (military). Depending on the Tsai administration's policy it might also be possible for Taiwan's Cyber Army to provide some form of real-time intelligence sharing on cyber threats with the United States, although any joint cyber operation is unlikely to take place any time soon due to the sensitive political nature involved. Observers have long noted that no country has more experience than Taiwan in dealing with the cyber threats coming out of China, and closer cooperation between the two countries on this area would no doubt benefit the United States' own cybersecurity efforts.  So far the plan to establish a new Cyber Army has been met with mixed receptions in Taiwan. While it has been hailed by many as an indication that the new government is taking the cyber threats Taiwan faces seriously, some have questioned the need to treat cybersecurity as a fourth branch in the service. Lan Ning-li (蘭寧利), a retired Vice Admiral of the Taiwanese Navy, was quoted in the news commenting  on the existing Information and Electronic Warfare Command as already functioning in full strength as a Cyber Army and thus he does not see an urgent need to make it more prominent than it is now. This raises the question of whether Taiwan's new Cyber army actually has a more ambitious, offensive strategic design in mind than what has been discussed on the surface. Many observers have been calling for Taiwan to adopt more asymmetric means to help deter Chinese threats, and cyber is no doubt one of the areas where Taiwan excels at and has a potential to offset Chinese superiority in conventional arms. After all, maybe the best deterrence against threats coming from the cyber is the ability to strike back, and the new, elevated Cyber Army would be a good starting point for Taiwan to increase that capacity.”

Why China Says No To The Arbitration On The South China Sea. Fu Ying, Foreign Policy. “The Hague tribunal in the much-discussed South China Sea arbitration case between China and the Philippines has notified the world that it will issue a final verdict on July 12. Many Western countries seem to think they already know the result of the arbitration — that China will lose. They have already started urging China to accept the ruling. But Beijing’s position is clear: no acceptance, no participation, no recognition, and no implementation. There is solid international legal basis for China to oppose this case. And by doing so, China is not only safeguarding its national interests, but also protecting the integrity and legitimacy of the international maritime order. Why does China refuse to accept and participate in the proceedings of this tribunal, being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague? Because China, as a sovereign state, is entitled to choose its preferred means of dispute resolution — a legitimate right under international law. Moreover, the Philippines’ case is inherently flawed and illegitimated by such irregularities as the country’s abuse of the dispute settlement procedures, its distortion of concepts, and its deliberate disguise of the real nature of the disputes. The Philippines’ arbitration relates to the dispute over the sovereignty of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and to maritime delimitation. But these territorial issues are not regulated by — and therefore beyond the scope of — the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). And in 2006, China declared it would exclude “disputes concerning maritime delimitation” from compulsory arbitration, under Article 298 of UNCLOS. Second, the Philippines’ unilateral initiation of compulsory arbitration did not meet UNCLOS preconditions for such initiation. The “no arbitration without the existence of a dispute” principle requires that before resorting to compulsory arbitration, there must have existed a real dispute between the parties. However, China has not yet presented specific claims with individual islands: Instead, it has always treated them as part of its Zhongsha Islands or Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. UNCLOS also stipulates that the Philippines must exchange views related to the arbitration over the dispute with China. But the Philippines has never consulted with China on the subject matters of the arbitration. And it was not telling the truth when it reported an “impasse” with China in “the bilateral exchanges” and “the great many subsequent exchanges.” In fact, it was China that tried in vain to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Philippines. Therefore, the Philippines’ unilateral initiation of arbitration has fallen short of meeting the UNCLOS conditions. Besides, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has violated an earlier agreement it reached with China: Both countries previously stated their commitment to bilateral negotiations and consultations as the means to settle disputes. Why does China find it impossible to recognize and implement the tribunal’s upcoming decision? Although Article 288(4) of UNCLOS stipulates that the tribunal should decide whether it has jurisdiction, the application of this provision is not unconditional. Indeed, there is no such thing as absolute power in international law. This tribunal, whose authority and power are conferred by states, is an international dispute settlement mechanism under UNCLOS. If the tribunal abuses its power, China — along with any other members in the international community — would have the right to reject its decisions. And in this case, the tribunal has acted in a reckless and arbitrary fashion. In doing so, it has violated the basic principles of international rule of law and undermined China’s and other nations’ faith in UNCLOS. We don’t yet know the outcome, but we do know that the tribunal failed to fully understand and investigate the real dispute between China and the Philippines. It disregarded the essence and purpose of the Filipino claims in filing the case, deliberately regarding it as a mere issue of the interpretation and application of UNCLOS — but in fact, the submissions handled are far beyond this scope. There is deep concern in China that the tribunal is failing to consider the specific geographical framework and situation in the South China Sea where the maritime claims of the two countries potentially overlap. I hope it is not hard to understand why China has decided not to recognize and implement the tribunal’s ruling. More than 60 countries have voiced their support for China’s position on resolving the South China Sea issue through negotiations and consultations. China, as a state party to UNCLOS, supports and respects the treaty’s principles and spirit. What China opposes is not UNCLOS and compulsory arbitration, but the tribunal’s abuse of power in handling the case. Today, most disputes are resolved through negotiations between the countries directly involved. The prerequisite for such negotiations, whether bilateral or multilateral, is the agreement or consent of those countries. China’s claim and position in the arbitration case are consistent with the basic spirit of international law, as well as state practice in international relations. This arbitration cannot resolve the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Instead, it will only increase tensions and undermine peace and stability in the region. If the coastal countries in the South China Sea region do not intend to aggravate tensions, they have to return to the path of seeking resolution through negotiation. China and the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to handle the issue through a dual-track approach — in other words, to resolve disputes through peaceful negotiations. Consultations on the code of conduct in the South China Sea region are making progress. The momentum should not be interrupted. As President Xi Jinping said, China is committed to upholding international justice and is opposed to forcing one’s will upon other people. The handling of the South China Sea issue has a bearing on justice as well as peace and stability. Countries in this region need to work together to build rules-based cooperation. The international community should support the efforts made by China and other littoral states to manage and resolve disputes in a peaceful manner, respect China’s choice of using negotiations as the means to settle disputes, and protect the legitimacy and fairness of international mechanisms — especially UNCLOS.”

Posted by Alex Gray | July 08, 2016

U.S. Navy Destroyers Stalk China's Claims In South China Sea. David Larter, Navy Times. “U.S. Navy destroyers have been quietly stalking some of China's man-made islands and claims in recent weeks ahead of a ruling on contested claims in the South China Sea. Over the past two weeks, the destroyers Stethem, Spruance and Momsen have all patrolled near Chinese-claimed features at Scarborough Shoal and in the Spratly Islands, according to two defense officials. “We have been regularly patrolling within the 14 to 20 nautical mile range of these features,” one official said, who asked for anonymity to discuss diplomatically-sensitive operations. The distance is important because if the ships patrolled within 12 miles, the Navy would handle it as a freedom of navigation operation that asserts U.S. rights to freely operate in waters claimed by other countries. Those FONOPS patrols must be approved at very high levels, but these close patrols outside of 12 miles are in international waters. Experts say the tactic serves as a message of resolve to the Chinese and U.S. allies in the region and is a deliberate show of force ahead of a major international ruling on the legality of some of China’s claims; Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, setting up conflicts with its neighbors and the U.S. A spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet said the patrols were part of the Navy’s “routine presence” in the region. “Patrols by U.S. Navy destroyers like Spruance, Momsen and Stethem — as well as the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group — are part of our regular and routine presence throughout the western Pacific. U.S. Navy forces have flown, sailed and operated in this region for decades and will continue to do so,” said Lt. Clint Ramsden. Pacific Fleet declined to discuss the patrols and what message they were trying to send with them, citing security concerns. “We won't discuss tactics, specific locations in the South China Sea or future operations anywhere in the region due to operational security,” Ramsden said. “All of these patrols are conducted in accordance with international law and all are consistent with routine Pacific Fleet presence throughout the western Pacific.” The carrier Ronald Reagan has also moved into the South China Sea along with her escorts, the second carrier group to be dispatched to the region this year. The carrier John C. Stennis spent the bulk of its planned seven-month deployment patrolling the South China Sea, spending nearly three months there before leaving June 5. On Wednesday, the Navy had seven ships in the region including Reagan, two cruisers and four destroyers, a Navy official said. The Virginia-class submarine Mississippi is also patrolling in the western Pacific, according to a recent press release announcing a port visit to Busan, South Korea, but the Navy does not comment on the location or movements of its submarines. The heavy show of Navy hardware in the South China Sea, which includes a carrier air wing and hundreds of missile tubes on the destroyers, is likely part of both the Navy’s continuing presence operations in the area and an anticipation of the international Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the legality of China’s claims in the South China Sea, said Jerry Hendrix, an analyst with the Center for a New American Security. The Philippines brought China to court after its 2012 seizure of Scarborough Shoal, which is located within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Chinese vessels have been spotted surveying the area, activity that was a precursor to previous island-building projects; no construction is believed to have been started to date. The case will likely rule on the legality of China’s claims surrounding artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, built atop of rocky outcroppings and reefs, and will also take up what exactly China is owed under the international laws of the sea. China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters and has embarked on the island building project to bolster its claims. The ruling from the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, is expected to be released July 12. “The Navy is trying to very strongly assert freedom of navigation and freedom of the seas,” said Hendrix, who is a retired Navy captain. “There is also, I think, some anticipation of The Hague’s ruling on China’s claims. “I anticipate that China will take additional actions after the Hague tribunal, and I think there is a desire to show that after that happens there is not going to be a ramp-up of U.S. forces in the region: that they are already there.” The U.S. has not taken a formal position on the Chinese claims but has said it will abide by the Hague’s ruling. China has dismissed the case as irrelevant and has said the court does not have the jurisdiction to rule on the matter. The Chinese have taken proactive steps ahead of the ruling, including declaring a 38,000-square-mile “no-sail zone” near its Hainan Island while it conducts military exercises between July 5 and 11, the day before the ruling. Significantly the Chinese no-sail zone includes the Paracel Islands chain, where in January the destroyer Curtis Wilbur conducted a freedom-of-navigation patrol. DefenseOne first reported the no-sail zone, which was posted on a Chinese government website. The stepped-up patrols of Chinese islands, as well as the persistent presence of a U.S. carrier strike group in the region, is part of an enhanced U.S. presence in the South China Sea, said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Glaser said U.S. ships spent more than 700 days in the South China Sea in 2015 and are on track to spend more than 1,000 days there in 2016. “On any given day you are seeing two or more ships operating in the South China Sea,” said Glaser, who directs the China Power Project at CSIS. Glaser said the increased presence in the South China Sea is an indication that fleet leaders, including U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Harry Harris, have been successful in pushing a more comprehensive strategy for presence in the area. In April, Navy Times reported that Harris was pushing for a more assertive approach in the South China Sea that aimed to stop China's island-building and bullying of its neighbors. Leaders in the White House were cautious about that approach, seeking to get Beijing’s cooperation on a host of other policy priorities, including the recently signed Iran nuclear deal and a major trade agenda the Obama administration has been pressing. A congressional staffer familiar with the regional issues said the Navy’s increased presence operations were welcome on Capitol Hill. "The enhanced level of maritime and aviation presence in the South China Sea over the last three months is a welcomed development on the Hill where there has been a sustained skepticism that the administration was willing to create any type of real friction in the relationship that might actually deter Beijing,” the staffer said in an email. Hendrix, the CNAS analyst, said the Navy has been leading the discussion on how to approach China’s claims in the South China Sea. “This has been a situation of the Navy leading the policy discussion because of the level of persistence they’ve shown in the area,” Hendrix said. “I still believe there is hesitance on the part of the political leadership but the operational leadership is taking the opportunity to show its interest in the region.”

China Issues Threat After Philippine Activists Resupply The Sierra Madre In The South China Sea. Andrew Corr, Forbes. “A Philippine activist group, Kalayaan Atin Ito (KAI), made their third “patriotic voyage” in the South China Sea in less than a year – this time on a resupply protest to a former U.S. naval vessel, the Sierra Madre. The Sierra Madre is now in active service with the Philippine Navy, and purposefully marooned on Ayungin Shoal (also known as Second Thomas Shoal, Reed Bank, Bãi Cỏ Mây, Jen-ai’ Chiao, Ren’ai Reef, and 仁爱礁). 12 KAI activists skirted Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ships to arrive at the shoal on June 29. Two days after the protest, China threatened to tow the Sierra Madre in response to the upcoming Philippine legal case against China at the Hague. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague announced that it will decide the case on July 12. The Sierra Madre could be an important fact on the ground in support of a Philippine claim on the shoal, and to keep the shoal from getting dredged and built upon by China. China dredged and built artificial islands with military air strips on other shoals in the South China Sea starting in 2014. The Philippines claims a 200-mile exclusive economic zone per the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China disputes the Philippine claim based on a 1946 map with a 9-dash line. Yet in the 1940s, China only claimed the islands within the 9-dash line, not the high seas. Chinese vessels, including one large Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) cutter (bow number 3307), and at least two civilian boats, are pressuring the Philippine sailors of the Sierra Madre to abandon ship. The Cutter set its course to intercept the activists on the Alexander, a 25-foot banca boat (wooden fishing vessel with two outriggers and an outboard motor) on their way to resupply the marines. The Chinese cutter blew its horns as it approached, and made a menacingly close pass to about 50 meters. Kalayaan is the Filipino name for the Spratly Islands. The name of the activist group translates as, “Kalayaan is ours.” They claim that the civilian leadership of the Aquino government did not do enough to maintain the structural integrity of the Sierra Madre, and to resupply the dozen or so marines stationed there. The Philippines purposely sailed the Sierra Madre, built in 1944, aground onto the shoal in 1999, in response to China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in 1994. The lack of resupply and maintenance disadvantages the Philippine marines, according to activists. The marines could be forced to leave the Sierra Madre as it becomes even less safe for habitation. Attempts to reach the current and former press secretaries of the Philippines were unanswered. The Chinese civilian vessels photographed by activists near Ayungin Shoal do not look like fishing vessels, and activists claim they carry Chinese divers.  Activists say that the rear of the Chinese civilian boats do not contain normal fishing gear, such as large piles of nets prominently visible on normal fishing boats. China has developed, as early as 2004, a strategy of an armed civilian “maritime militia”. As an armed force not strictly under military control, it will likely be highly dangerous to sailors, activists, and non-Chinese fishermen in the region. According to KAI activists, Chinese fishermen are using cyanide for fishing near Ayungin Shoal, which kills the coral. Activists provided me with video and photographs of the coral, which appears white and lifeless. Additional photographs provided by the activists illustrate that the Sierra Madre continues to rust and deteriorate, with gaping holes clearly visible near the waterline. According to activists, the graffiti-festooned ship only stands because of occasional steel and concrete reinforcement smuggled past the Chinese Coast Guard on small boats by the marines. A former U.S. official confirmed to me that the Chinese have in the past blocked Philippine attempts to resupply the Sierra Madre. China issued a veiled threat against the Sierra Madre two days after the Sierra Madre protest by KAI. A spokesman from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wu Qian, spoke to a reporter from the People’s Daily, China’s official party newspaper. The paper linked potential towing of the Sierra Madre by China to the outcome of the PCA case to be decided on July 12. According to the People’s Daily article, "During the conference, Wu was asked by a reporter that [sic] the People’s Daily, official newspaper of the CPC, published a commentary Monday which said that China has the ability to tow away the old warship of the Philippines from the Ren’ai Reef. Will the PLA take the actions after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) issues the award on July 12 on the South China Sea case? According to the People’s Daily, Mr. Wu replied “that China has indisputable sovereignty of China’s Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, which [sic] the Ren’ai Reef [Ayungin Shoal] is included. The PLA has the determination and ability to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.” Ayungin Shoal is only 105 nautical miles from Palawan, Philippines, well-within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. However, it is also within China’s claimed 9-dash line. China has stated that it intends to disregard the PCA ruling on features in the South China Sea. Ayungin is 622 nautical miles from China’s closest point to the shoal, which is located on Hainan Island. KAI formed Sea Access For International Law (SAIL) in 2016 to help organize international volunteers. Both organizations now boast a combined 10,000 supporters, including about 20 full-time volunteers. Most members are in the Philippines, where Nicanor Faeldon started the group in 2006 by lecturing at universities in all 81 provinces. But SAIL now also includes members in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brunei. I’m a SAIL supporter, giving me access to photographs and informal interviews with KAI activists. Both groups support a boycott of Chinese consumer goods that has half-a-dozen organizational sponsors. KAI activists arrived on Palawan on two flights from Manila on June 23 and June 24. The first attempt to sail to Ayungin on June 26 failed due to high waves. Activists returned to Palawan and waited two days for better weather. While waiting, activists slept on The Alexander about 20 yards from the shore. In an emailed comment from Vera Joy Ban-eg, the leader of KAI, she explained the trip once the weather cleared. “We sailed to Ayungin Shoal [on] June 28 at 2.30pm and reached Ayungin at 9.30am [on] June 29, 2016.” The grueling overnight trip on the small fishing boat took 19 hours. Activists remained at the shoal for several hours, provided food, drinks, a live goat, activist t-shirts, and other supplies to the marines, took photos and video, swam, sang the national anthem on the Sierra Madre with the marines, and then returned to Palawan. In addition to Ms. Ban-eg, the following Philippine activists took part in the protest: Sigrid Dickerson, Jeremiah Dickerson, Andrei Villato, Loubert Grace Carreon, Joart Marzal, Vivien Leal, Ansgar Niño, Francis de Gracias, Lourd Wyrlou Medina, and Jessa Matugas. The Australian photojournalist Benjamin Bohane joined the voyage on assignment from ABC Australia.”

Decision, Maybe Momentous, Nears in Case China Has Tried to Ignore. Jane Perlez, The New York Times. “Five judges and legal scholars from around the world presided over a hearing last fall in an elegant, chandeliered room in The Hague. Arranged before them on one side of the chamber were lawyers for the Philippines, armed with laptop computers and notepads. On the other side were three empty chairs. For more than three years, China has refused to participate in the proceedings of an international tribunal considering a challenge to its expansive claims in the South China Sea, arguing that the panel has no jurisdiction to rule on the dispute with the Philippines. But with a decision scheduled to be announced next week, Beijing seems to be getting nervous. In a show of strength, it kicked off a week of naval exercises in the South China Sea on Tuesday near the disputed Paracel Islands, where the Chinese military has installed surface-to-air missiles. And in recent months, it has mounted an arduous campaign outside the courtroom to rebut the Philippines and undermine the tribunal, enlisting countries from Russia to Togo to support its claim to waters that include vital trade routes and may hold oil and other natural resources. The flurry of activity is a sign of how much is at stake in what was once an obscure legal case before an obscure arbitration panel. The outcome could alter the dynamics of the South China Sea conflict, shifting it from a race to establish physical dominance over the waters to a conspicuous test of Beijing’s respect for international law and multilateral institutions. China has pulled ahead in the physical race, dredging sand to build one island after another over the objections of its neighbors and the United States, and equipping many of the islands with airstrips and radar. But if the tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines on key issues, it could put President Xi Jinping of China on the defensive — or, some worry, push him into a corner. “This is a matter of wider significance than the South China Sea,” said Bilahari Kausikan, a Singaporean ambassador at large, noting that China has signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is the basis of the Philippine complaint and the tribunal’s deliberations. “The importance of the issue is whether international rules will be obeyed,” Mr. Kausikan said. China, he added, “cannot pick and choose which rules to follow or only comply when convenient.” Sensing an opportunity, the Obama administration has begun a diplomatic push of its own, backing the tribunal and persuading allies to speak out for a “rules-based order at sea” and the use of international law to settle territorial disputes. Neither Washington nor Beijing paid much attention when the Philippine foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, began the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013, not long after China wrested control of an atoll known as Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. The State Department’s senior diplomat for East Asia, Daniel R. Russel, has said he was unaware of the Philippine case at the time. The Chinese leadership quickly dismissed the tribunal without extensive consultation with the foreign policy establishment, several Chinese scholars said. Beijing’s position has not changed. Because the sovereignty of scattered reefs, rocks and islands in the South China Sea is in dispute, it argues, the tribunal cannot rule on competing claims to the waters surrounding them. The Convention on the Law of the Sea says nothing about the sovereignty of land. But the Philippines has been careful to frame its complaint in a way that sidesteps the question of who has sovereignty over the islands and reefs. For example, it has asked the tribunal to declare that nine specific reefs and rocks, including some that China has built into artificial islands, are too small to be used to assert economic rights to the waters around them, regardless of who controls them. The Convention on the Law of the Sea allows a nation to exercise sovereignty over waters up to 12 nautical miles from its coast, and it grants economic rights over waters on a nation’s continental shelf and to 200 nautical miles from its coast. But the treaty says reefs that are entirely submerged at high tide and artificial islands cannot be used to justify any maritime rights. Philippine officials have asked the tribunal to find that China has violated the treaty by building islands in the Philippines’ economic waters, interfering with its fishermen, endangering its ships and damaging the marine environment. The Philippines’ most sweeping demand is for the tribunal to reject China’s claim to sovereignty over waters within a “nine-dash line” that encircles almost all of the South China Sea. China seeks to justify the nine-dash line by citing what it calls historical evidence, including maps published in the 1940s and ’50s that show the dashes. But it has never drawn a continuous line clearly marking its claim, nor has it been specific about what rights it is asserting in the area. Critics say the Chinese government gave up any special claim to the sea when it signed the United Nations treaty in 1996, during a period when it sought respectability on the global stage. Now, Beijing may believe it has enough clout to ignore the treaty. It has labeled the arbitration court a “law-abusing tribunal” and its proceedings a “farce.” Chinese diplomats have suggested that the government may even renounce the treaty. “We will not accept it or recognize it,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said of the coming ruling. That position has made some in China uncomfortable, including foreign policy experts who have privately criticized the government’s position, saying that China has ceded the moral high ground in its rivalry with the United States. The United States signed the United Nations treaty but never ratified it. The Obama administration has struggled to deter Beijing from building islands and military outposts in the South China Sea, with increased naval patrols and stronger alliances in the region having little effect. But it concluded last year that the tribunal case presented an opening to push back in a different way. When President Park Geun-hye of South Korea visited Washington in October, President Obama said he expected Seoul to speak out on the need for China to “abide by international laws and rules.” Mr. Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, was sent to Germany, where he made the case at a prominent public policy school in Berlin. “The Chinese are fond of saying that the Pacific is big enough for both of us,” he told the audience. “What that does not mean is that they can draw a line in the center of the Pacific and say, ‘You stay on the east, and we’ll have control over everything west of the nine-dash line.’ That’s unacceptable.” The administration also persuaded the Group of 7 nations to issue two joint statements on the South China Sea, drawing a complaint from Beijing that the group should stick to economic policy. A State Department official, Robert Harris, even traveled to landlocked Laos to explain the Philippine case. China’s Foreign Ministry says that dozens of countries have endorsed its position, and reports about foreign politicians denouncing the tribunal appear in the state-run news media almost daily. But Beijing has adopted a broad interpretation of what it means to have won over a country. Russia, for example, agrees that the tribunal should not resolve the dispute, but it has been silent on the Chinese buildup, in part because of its close relationship with Vietnam, which also claims part of the sea.”

Taiwan Starts Designing Home-Built Attack Submarine. South China Morning Post.  “Taiwan’s military said on Thursday it has already begun the process of designing a long-sought-after domestic attack submarine, hoping to complete it in 2024. Navy Command Headquarters Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mei Chia-shu told a legislative committee session: “We plan to complete the design by 2019 and complete the construction by 2024.” Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan said “outside pressure” was the biggest factor and challenge for the project, referring to mainland China. The mainland considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province that should be reunited with the rest of the country. The submarine is part of the navy’s 15-year plans to rebuild its military might and strengthen the island’s defence industry. The plan was first announced in 2014 and the ministry established a task force last month to help push the project forward. No countries have been willing to provide Taiwan with a design blueprint, mainly due to fears of political consequences from mainland China. Mei said the navy was planning to obtain the design blueprint from the Netherlands, the country that designed and built two of the island’s diesel-powered submarines. Mei said the navy signed a contract with a Dutch company earlier this year to extend the lifespan of the two subs so Taiwan could use the design blueprint as the basis for the construction of the first home-built submarine. The navy is planning to commission the Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Centre to be mainly responsible for the design and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science & Technology for the integration of the combat system. Mei did not reveal who the builder would be, but a report obtained by Kyodo News showed the navy was planning to award the contract to CSBC Corp Taiwan. The report also indicated that Taiwan was capable of building 70 per cent of the turbine system of the submarine, 50 per cent of the outer hull, 30 per cent of the motor system and 30 per cent of the combat system. Besides obtaining the design blueprint from the Netherlands, the navy also needs the support of other countries capable of building submarines, according to Deputy Chief of the General Staff Admiral Pu Tze-chun. Pu declined to specify which countries have been contacted. Other countries that have the capability of building submarines include France, Germany, Sweden, India, Japan and the United States. The United States, which agreed in 2001 to sell Taiwan eight non-nuclear submarines, has promised to help Taiwan build attack submarines. However, since then the deal has failed to move forward due to technical and political constraints. Citing Australia’s recent agreement to engage a French defence firm to construct submarines for its navy, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng warned Taiwan’s navy not to repeat the same “failure”. Lo said Australia spent a significant amount of money on the contract after wasting time and money trying to build domestic vessels.”

The Real Significance Of Tsai Ing-wen’s Visit To Central America. “Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s new president, has wrapped up her first overseas visit to Latin America since taking office on May 20. Contrary to a popular misconception, the visits of Taiwan’s leaders to the island’s diplomatic allies are not a waste of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Rather, these journeys are important on several levels. First, they help bolster Taipei’s position that the Republic of China (ROC) still exists as a sovereign and independent state in the global community. To be sure, Taiwan’s president meets only with the leaders of countries located in what is now described politely in the academic community as “the global south.” Most are impoverished nations. With the exception of the Vatican, these are the only entities that recognize the government in Taiwan. They are better than nothing. Second, these face-to-face meetings enable Taiwan’s leaders to pressure counterparts in foreign governments to speak up for Taipei in international forums. Taiwan is locked out of most of the world’s important intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).  But its “little friends” can be advocates for Taiwan’s interests in the United Nations and other global bodies. And some – not all – do speak up for Taiwan. Third, the diplomatic junkets provide Taipei’s top leadership with a convenient rationale (excuse) for making “transit stops” in the US while journeying to a final destination located somewhere in the backwater of world politics. These “rests” in major US cities are likely to be approved by Washington so long as they remain low key (toward the end of his second term as Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian was allowed to stop only in Alaska) and enable Taiwan’s president to conduct business in the United States. For example, during a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles in January 2014, President Ma Ying-jeou received pledges of support for Taiwan’s participation in important economic forums during telephone conversations with 10 members of Congress.  He also spoke over the phone with Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld. And during President Tsai’s visit to Miami, she had a face-to-face meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Florida), the charismatic former candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination as president. This marked the first visit on US soil of a sitting US senator with a ROC president since 2003. Finally, the global journeys undertaken by Taiwan’s leaders serve an important domestic political purpose. Public opinion polls show most people in Taiwan support raising the island’s international profile and such travels give an appearance that a president is actively working toward this objective. Normally, an administration will go to some length to put a positive “spin” on a presidential trip. For example, while it might appear humorous (even ludicrous) to most foreigners, Taiwan Today, a government-sponsored news service, carried a story about Tsai receiving a “Medal of Honor” from Paraguay as its lead news story. In other words, the international travels of Taiwan’s leaders really are meaningful. Tsai’s visit was important in another respect, however: it is significant that China permitted the trip to happen. During Tsai’s travels to Latin America, questions were raised about her plane’s flight path from Florida to Panama. It seems that the aircraft flew over Cuban airspace and Beijing could have easily asked Havana to block such a route. When questioned about the flight path and China’s role in the route being approved by Cuba, Tsai said, “It is not clear to me if China was involved in the case … if China did play a role, that could be seen as a kind of goodwill.” But there is more involved here than a flight path. Following Ma Ying-jeou’s election as ROC president in 2008 and Taiwan’s return to the “1992 Consensus” (an arrangement whereby Taipei and Beijing appear to accept the principle of “one China,” but differ over the meaning of “one China”), Taipei and Beijing agreed to a diplomatic truce. The two sides agreed to stop poaching each other’s diplomatic allies. As China has continued to grow in economic, political, and strategic importance, however, more and more of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies  approached Beijing and asked to establish relations with it (and to dump Taipei). According to cables released by Wikileaks on Aug. 30, 2011, China has refused the requests by countries – including Paraguay and Panama – to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Despite the smiles and friendly faces that Tsai encountered in Central America, it would be delusional to think that the leaders of Panama and Paraguay will not drop Taiwan in a heartbeat if provided an opportunity. If President Xi Jinping had wanted to humiliate President Tsai and derail her first overseas visit he needed only to pick up the telephone and call Asuncion and Panama City two days before her scheduled departure from Taipei and that would be the end of her visits. And without a tour in Central America, Taipei’s request for a “transit stop” in Miami and Los Angeles would make no sense and likely be denied. Tsai would be all dressed up with nowhere to go. Much has been made of Beijing’s declaration on June 25 that it has suspended cross-strait talks with Taipei. This is a worrisome development. Taiwan’s recent accidental launch of a supersonic “anti-aircraft carrier” missile toward China underscored the need for communication channels to remain open. But most of the mainstream media missed the significance of Beijing’s low-key response to Tsai’s overseas junket. It is unclear exactly what this means. Perhaps it’s a signal to Tsai that stating plainly that she will adhere to the “1992 Consensus” will yield dividends. In other words, Taiwan will retain its diplomatic allies and she will be able to travel to Latin America (and the US). One might be tempted to describe this as a “carrot” in China’s cache of “carrots and sticks.” Or there could be more going on here. At a minimum, however, Tsai’s recent journey is significant primarily because it actually happened. In that respect, Beijing has shown a lot of goodwill.”

The United States And China Can Get Along In The South China Sea. Christopher Yung and Wang Dong, War on the Rocks. “To many observers, China and the United States appear to be irreconcilably butting heads in the maritime domain, especially in the South China Sea. This was recently illustrated at the 2016 Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore when China’s representative, Admiral Sun Jianguo, the Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff, and the U.S. representative, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, provided vastly different portrayals of what was needed to promote stability and security in the South China Sea. Differences are also likely to surface in the upcoming weeks as The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration renders its verdict on the case between China and the Philippines. Despite these recent differences between the two countries, it may come as a surprise to learn that the maritime arena holds the most promise for China and the United States to cooperate. Compared to other strategic domains in which the two major powers interact, such as space and cyber, both countries are well aware of the specifics of their respective national maritime interests. While this clarifies areas of agreement and disagreement, the enormous interests involved and the potential for the two powers to confound one another make the task of arriving at cooperative measures daunting. China and the United States share interests in the principle of freedom of navigation (FON). Although they disagree over what FON entails, it offers both sides tangible benefits from maritime-related economies, good order and stability at sea, and the use of the sea to foster and protect national security interests. This is not to deny the notable differences in their respective maritime priorities. For the United States, the entire international trading and economic order is dependent on a secure maritime domain.  Additionally, the ocean serves as both an initial barrier to threats to the homeland and as a highway for the United States to project power abroad. Finally, because the Washington sees the prevention of regional hegemons as vital to its own national security interests, the United States is able to take action to balance that emerging threat or, if necessary, defeat it through a secure maritime domain. China’s interests in the maritime domain center on safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity, defending maritime rights and benefits, and protecting China’s rapidly expanding overseas interests which include trade to and from China and access to needed natural resources. During wartime, China also wants to be able to deny or deter other powers’ ability to pose either threats within its strategic maritime zones or layers of Chinese defenses that are defined by the first and second island chains. Chinese and U.S. perspectives diverge when it comes to how the two countries define their respective national interests, what they believe to be appropriate means of displaying good and bad intentions, how the two sides view the sea, and how they interpret international law and the protection of maritime sovereignty. China and the United States have fundamentally different philosophies about the nature and meaning of the sea. Historically for modern China, the sea is first and foremost a means of access by enemies to threaten and humiliate the country. In contrast, the United States views the sea as a potential barrier to foreign threats and simultaneously a means for the United States to push out and advance its own interests. This explains the tension over U.S. Navy surveillance and reconnaissance operations (SRO). The United States regards as its right the ability to fly surveillance aircraft or sail surveillance ships within China’s exclusive economic zone but outside China’s territorial waters and contiguous zone. China, however, sees U.S. SROs as an affront to Chinese sovereignty, intrusive in nature, and potentially threatening to China’s security. Complicating this divergence of interests and perspectives is the security dilemma involved when a hegemon is confronted by a rising challenger — the so-called Thucydides Trap. An additional complication is the vexing fact that all the present hot spots or potential conflict scenarios between the two countries reside in the maritime domain. There remains the possibility that China and the United States could tangle with each other over a crisis emerging from a Taiwan, a South China Sea, or an East China Sea scenario. Nevertheless, there are enough overlapping interests in the maritime domain to warrant serious thought about deepening and strengthening cooperative programs already in existence. The convergence of interests is substantial enough that new programs that can foster habits of cooperation and reduce tensions deserve consideration. During President Obama’s visit to China in November 2014, the two sides signed memoranda of understanding on encounters at sea. The annex on air-to-air encounters was signed during President Xi’s state visit to the United States in September 2015. Now both sides should ensure that all parties adhere to the agreements. They could even consider conducting joint or separate training sessions for sailors and pilots from both sides. The United States and China should build on existing cooperative activities between their respective coast guards, while sustaining and, if possible, extending cooperation on anti-pollution measures, ocean observation, marine scientific research, and prevention of marine hazards. Moreover, the two powers could expand on the military-to-military cooperation that has taken place within the maritime domain over the past few years. In particular, the United States should consider inviting China to exercises such as the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise that it conducts annually with Southeast Asian militaries. China and the United States should also work to establish a working group at ASEAN to discuss maritime security cooperation and dialogue. Cementing these cooperation efforts would ensure that although Chinese and American maritime interests may vary, the joint interest in preserving stability remains paramount.”

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