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Good News, World! You Can Stop Worrying About the South China Sea!

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There has been a concerted campaign to depict the South China Sea as an indispensable artery for commercial shipping and, therefore, a justifiable object of US attention and meddling.

This flagship of this effort is invoking the “$5 trillion dollars” worth of goods that pass through the SCS each year. Reuters, in particular, is addicted to this formula.

Here’s seven Reuters news stories within the last month containing the $5 trillion figure:

China Says South China Seas militarization depends on threat

China seeks investment for disputed islands, to launch flights

China defends South China Sea reef landings after Vietnam complaint

Philippines files protest against Chin’s test flights in disputed sea

China again lands planes on disputed island in South China Sea: Xinhua

Filipino protestors land on disputed islands in South China Sea

South China Sea tensions surge as China lands plane on artificial island

What interests me is that these seven articles reflect the work of six reporters and seven editors (seven to six! Glad to see Reuters has a handle on the key ratios!) in five bureaus and they all include the same stock phrase. How’s that work? Does headquarters issue a ukaz that all articles about the South China Sea must include the magic $5 trillion phrase? Does the copyediting program flag every reference to the South China Sea omitting the figure? Or did the reportorial hive mind linking Beijing, Manila, Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Sydney spontaneously and unanimously decided that “$5 trillion” is an indispensable accessory for South China Sea reporting?

I guess it’s understandable. A more accurate characterization of the South China Sea as “a useful but not indispensable waterway for world shipping whose commercial importance, when properly exaggerated, provides a pretext for the United States to meddle in Southeast Asian affairs at the PRC’s expense” is excessively verbose and fails to convey a sense of urgency.

The kicker, of course, is that the lion’s share of the $5 trillion is China trade, and most of the balance passes through the South China Sea by choice and not by necessity.

In other words, the only major power with a vital strategic interest in Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea is the People’s Republic of China. And the powers actually interested in impeding Freedom of Navigation down there are…pretty much everybody else, led by the United States.

Instead, let’s look at a map.

Obviously, words fail me.

Here’s the map not to look at. The oft-reproduced and abused US Department of Energy deranged tentacled monster hydrocarbon liver fluke writhing in the South China Sea map:

Instead, let’s look at Marine Traffic, a most interesting website which offers dynamic real time ship information and some useful historical data free of charge, and provides an idea of the actual shipping patterns in the region.

If you select the “density map” option and zoom in, you get this view of the busiest shipping routes (green lines) and busiest ports (red blobs) in and around the South China Sea:

Note that marine traffic in the South China Sea does a few things. First of all, much of it goes, unsurprisingly, to the Peoples Republic of China. Second, except when friendship-building volleyball games in the middle of the SCS are on the agenda, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines are largely served by coast-hugging routes outside the PRC’s dreaded Nine-Dash-Line.

Third, the rest of the traffic that transits the SCS pretty much on a straight line is headed for Japan and South Korea. This would seem to support the perception that Japan and South Korea, our precious allies, need protection against threats to their supply of hydrocarbon-based joy juice, their economies, indeed their national security and ways of life emanating from the overbearing PRC presence on the South China Sea lifeline.

Not quite.

The strategic insignificance of the South China Sea to Japan and the Republic of Korea has been well known since the 1990s, when “energy security” became an explicit preoccupation of Japanese planners.

Here is an insightful passage from a book by Euan Graham, Japan’s Sea Lane Security: A Matter of Life and Death?, published in 2005.

The cost to Japan of a 12-month closure of the South China Sea, diverting oil tankers via the Lombok Strait and east of the Philippines, has been estimated at $200 million. A Japanese estimate puts the cost as basically the same to that imposed by a closure of the Malacca Strait, requiring 15 additional tankers to be added to the route, generating an extra $88 million in shipping costs. This is roughly corroborated by the reported findings of a joint study conducted by the JDA and the Indonesian authorities in the late 1980s, which put the number of extra tankers required to divert around the South China Sea via Lombok and east of the Philippines at 18.

…The volume of oil shipped to Japan from the Middle East is evenly split between Lombok and the Straits of Malacca…

Here’s a nice map showing the Lombok route, also mentioning the only difference with Malacca—two more days in sailing time over twenty days for the straight shot through the South China Sea. Also note, as this graphic does, that the biggest biggest crude carriers, 300,000 DWT and up, can only take the Lombok route.

What does two extra days on the water mean? Per Graham,

…Based on an oil import bill of $35 billion in 1997, [a cost of $88 million for diverting through Lombok] accounts for 0.3% of the total.

To update these figures, the oil/tanker market has gone pretty gonzo recently, as everyone is aware. Crude prices have gone down, while tanker rates are currently upupup as importers stampede buy cheap strategic reserves and, on occasion, hold the tankers for temporary storage instead of releasing them back into the wild. Most recent shipping figure I could find was about $2.50/barrel from the Gulf to Japan.

Let’s assume $30/barrel crude plus $3/barrel shipping costs. Japan imports about 2 billion barrels per year. That’s $6 billion dollars. And we assume the Lombok route adds 10% or $0.30/barrel to the shipping cost. That’s another $600 million dollars against $60 billion in total crude costs. 1%. By a funny coincidence, $600 million is also about 1% of the annual Japanese defense budget. Japan’s GDP: $4 trillion dollars.

So is Japan going to light off World War III to keep the purportedly vital SCS SLOC open and save 1% on its oil bill?

Here’s one fellow who doesn’t think so:

CSD [Collective Self Defense] will not allow minesweeping ops in SCS/Malacca Strait as unlike Hormuz there are alternative routes.

That’s a statement that notorious appeaser, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made in the Diet, as reported on Corey Wallace’s Twitter feed.

Republic of Korea: imports less than 1 billion barrels per annum. Cost of the Lombok detour: maybe $270 million.

Bottom line, everybody prefers to use Malacca/South China Sea to get from the Persian Gulf to Japan and South Korea. It’s the straightest, it’s the cheapest, there’s Singapore, and, in fact, shipowners looked at the economics and decided to dial back the construction of “postMalaccamax VLCCs” (Very Large Crude Carriers) so they’d always have the option of going through the Malacca Strait and South China Sea.

But if that route goes blooey, they can always go via Lombok and the Makassar Sea. Just a little bit more expensive.

So, the South China Sea is not a critical sea lane for our primary North Asian allies Japan and the Republic of Korea.

What about the threat to the Antipodes? Core ally Australia? If the PRC shut down the South China Sea, what would that do to Australian exports (other than to China, naturally)?

From Euan Graham’s volume quoted above:

Iron ore and coke shipments from Australia account for most of the cargo moved through the Lombok Strait…Lombok remains the principal route for bulk carriers sailing from Western Australia to Japan.

They use Lombok already!

As to the South China Sea factor, Sam Bateman, a retired Royal Australian Navy commodore who now think-tanks in Singapore, debunked a dubious piece of numerology by Bonnie Glaser:

Bonnie Glaser has recently claimed that approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s seaborne trade passes through the South China Sea…

When measured by value, the figure of 60% of our seaborne trade passing through the South China Sea is way off the mark. Based on the latest data for Australia’s overseas trade, it mightn’t even be half that—and about three-quarters of it would be trade to and from China. Thus the notion of a threat to our seaborne trade from China is rather a non-sequitur.

Doing the math…25% of 30%…that’s 7.5% of Australia’s total seaborne trade by value through the South China Sea isn’t going to the PRC. Back of the envelope, that’s A$40 billion, about half of which is back and forth with Singapore, which could be end-arounded by entering the Malacca Strait from the west and avoiding the South China Sea completely. So maybe A$ 20 billion theoretically at risk in the unlikely event that the PRC decided to close the SCS completely to Australian shipping. By contrast, Australian two way trade with the PRC: A$152 billion.

If you are wondering why there is a “spirited debate” as to whether confronting the PRC, the biggest customer for Australian ore and real estate, in the South China Sea serves Australia’s national interest, I think you have your answer.

Euan Graham, now Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program, recently appeared on Australian television to remark that “geography doesn’t change”. No kidding.

It’s worth watching his appearance and his careful parsing of the South China Sea issue.

Notice he does not advance the canard that the South China Sea is a vital waterway for Australian commerce under threat from the PRC. It’s more about Australia doing its best to act as a willing, nay eager, ally of the United States in Asia, or as Graham puts it paying “the alliance premium”. And that “international law” thing. And free movement of naval forces.

It should be clear by now that the South China Sea as a commercial artery matters a heck of a lot more to…China, unsurprisingly, than it does to Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the United States.

Here’s the funny thing. The South China Sea is becoming less and less important to the PRC as well, as it constructs alternate networks of ports, pipelines, and energy assets.

The idea that the PRC will ever wriggle free of the maritime chokehold is anathema to the US Navy, which has staked its reputation, claims to a central geostrategic role, and budget demands on the idea that the US Navy’s threat to the PRC’s seaborne energy imports is the decisive factor that will keep the Commies in their place. America’s interest in d*cking with the PRC in the South China Sea predates any Xi Jinping-related arrogance, expansionism, and island-building and indeed predates the appearance of any PRC Navy worthy of consideration. It can be traced to the Office of Net Assessment’s 2004 report prepared via Booz, Hamilton for Donald Rumsfeld, Energy Futures in Asia.

As I don’t think that report has been declassified, interested readers can check out this 2010 paper from the US Naval War College titled, “Your Pitiful Pipeline Plans Will Never Succeed, Silly Chinese! Learn the Will of the Mighty US Navy and Tremble!” (actual title, China’s Oil Security Pipe Dream, not so far off the mark).

Indeed, Middle Eastern oil, oil that at the very least leaves the Middle East by ship, is probably going to be a big deal in China for decades. But the PRC is trying to do something about it in reckless disregard of the friendly and disinterested advice of the (Motto: Share and Be Nice!) USNWC.

Again, it helps to look a map. The Belt and Road initiative is creating a lot of new channels to move energy and goods in and out of the PRC that don’t rely on the South China Sea.

While you’re at it, find the Andaman Sea. It’s between Burma and India, to the west of the South China Sea and Malacca Strait. The PRC has already built a terminal at Maday in Burma’s Rakhine State and twinned oil and gas pipelines to Kunming in China to, as The Hindu put it, “bypass the Malacca trap’.

Those little red men, by the way? Burma Army battalions. Security of the pipeline is a big deal for the PRC, something that it is prepared to ensure even if it means blackmailing the Burmese government with the threat of unrest in the border areas, as Aung San Suu Kyi apparently already understands.

And for container shipment, the PRC apparently plans to jog the highspeed railway it’s building to Bangkok over to a new deep sea port down the coast from Maday in Burma at Dawei (instead of pursuing the perennial Thai pipe dream of the Kra Canal across the isthmus separating the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand).

Also check out Gwadar. The PRC has made a commitment to invest tens of billions in the Pakistani insurrectionary, logistical, and geopolitical nightmare that is the Boondoggle in Balochistan with the prospect of sending oil and gas over the Himalayas to give provide another option for avoiding the South China Sea.

Pipelines are, of course, more expensive to operate and vulnerable to attack by local insurgents and more mysterious forces, as US strategists are suspiciously keen to point out. Ports in third countries are liable to meddling by pro-US governments, factions, and regional proxies. But the PRC is building ‘em. If the US can spend half a trillion dollars on our national security, the PRC is also willing to gamble a couple hundred billion on its energy security in defense and capital budgets (and enrich deserving PRC contractors) and bear the added operating expense of moving oil & gas from A to B not through the Malacca Strait.

Which means, of course, it’s time to hype that PRC threat to the Indian Ocean!

Here you go: US Navy official questions intent of China military advance in Indian Ocean

As these massive and risky alternative expenditures by the PRC—and the complete absence of plausible threats to Japan, South Korea, and Australia interests—indicate, the only genuine role the South China Sea played as a strategic chokepoint worthy of US interest is…against the PRC.

Bad news is, with the PRC putting its energy eggs in a multiplicity of baskets, if it ever comes to fighting the real war with China—a full-fledged campaign to strangle it by cutting off its energy imports (like we did with Japan in the 1930s! Hey! Useful historical analogy)—we’ll have to do it in a lot of places, like Burma, the Indian Ocean, and Djibouti, as well as the South China Sea. A real world war!

Good news is, as the PRC’s shipping options increase, the strategic importance of each individual channel decreases…as does the desire of the PRC, Japan, ROK, or Australia to risk regional peace for an increasingly irrelevant sideshow—and the local interests of Vietnam and the Philippines–diminishes.

What I hope is that the South China Sea, instead of serving as the flashpoint for World War III, may well end up as a stage for imperial kabuki as the US & PRC bluster and posture to demonstrate resolve to their neighbors and allies…and an opportunity for political posturing, amped-up defense spending, and plenty of opportunities for the hottest of media and think-tank hot takes.

That would keep everybody happy.

(Reprinted from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
 

33 Comments to "Good News, World! You Can Stop Worrying About the South China Sea!"

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  1. Peter, thank you for the excellent analysis. Fantastic piece of journalism backed by facts and figures and NOT the usual rhetoric!!

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  2. I seem to recall this same nonsense said during the 1960′s about how we needed to fight in southeast Asia to ensure the straits of Malacca remained open to US shipping. Same old horse manure from the military-industrial complex trying to justify its budget.

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  3. Shortly after the Cold War ended, all sorts of BS appeared about the Chinese threat to the “Spratlys”. While the USA spends billions of dollars each year to keep bases and ships in the Western Pacific, any Chinese effort is called evil. A short story from my blog:

    Nov 30, 2013 – Diaoyu/Senkaku Warmongering.

    I didn’t understand the conflict over a few tiny, uninhabited islands near Taiwan. Our war machine aligned with our corporate media to publish hundreds of stories over the past two years about aggressive Chinese claims to these Japanese islands. Then I read this letter in the “Economist” last February:

    [MORE]

    SIR – Your leader about the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands presented China as the aggressor in the East China Sea and Japan as the victim (“Dangerous shoals”, January 19th). A different story can be told if you go further back. China has claimed the islands for centuries and always treated Japan’s annexation of them in 1895 as illegal.

    The Potsdam Declaration of 1945, which set out the Allied Powers’ terms for Japan’s surrender, deprived Japan of all its overseas territories, including the islands. But the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951, signed by Japan, actually broke those conditions by restoring the islands to Japanese control (but leaving open the issue of sovereignty).

    Moreover, the Chinese government, by then controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, was excluded from the conference that produced the treaty. For both those reasons the Chinese government regards the handing back of the islands to Japanese control as illegitimate.

    Until 2010 the two governments left the settlement of their claims undefined. This was the agreement that came out of the diplomatic recognition and friendship talks between the government of Japan and Zhou Enlai in 1972 and Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Deng famously suggested that contentious issues like Senkaku should be “left to the wiser heads of later generations”. In practice, Japan accepted the islands’ limbo state, exercising only “practical control” by shooing away non-Japanese fishing boats.

    The current dispute began in 2010 when the Japanese arrested a Chinese fishing boat in defiance of an agreement not to apply domestic laws to trespassing fishermen and proposed to put the captain on trial. This provoked an unexpectedly furious Chinese reaction, which stiffened the Japanese government’s determination not to appear weak in its dealings with China.

    China’s “aggression” towards Japan has to be understood in this context. In a civilised world both sides would bring the case to the International Court of Justice.

    Professor Robert Wade
    Department of international development
    London School of Economics

    According to the Potsdam Accords, Okinawa should not have been given back to Japan in 1972, since the Japanese empire invaded that island chain in 1872. Note that Taiwan was also a Japanese colony, and was freed after World War II. Taiwan also claims these islands near its coast, and a long way from mainland Japan.

    If you read more about this issue, it remained in limbo until 2010 when Japan began to exert sovereignty over these distant islands, challenging Taiwanese and Chinese fisherman in the area and claiming the airspace. China refused to accept this illegal and provocative behavior, and countered this squatter’s rights move by declaring the air space as well. This only means that China (like Japan) demands permission to fly through this zone (far from Japan) and reserves the right to intercept non-complying aircraft and shoot down hostile intruders.

    This is an old, petty squabble between Japan and our World War II ally China. It is not a sign of an aggressive Chinese military and no excuse to maintain wartime levels of spending that are helping bankrupt our nation. It explains why the Pentagon immediately flew two B-52 bombers through the zone and publicly backed Japan’s claim, while demonstrating its control over our corporate media, which failed to report these facts.

    I suggest an obvious compromise. Japan should offer to transfer these big rocks to Taiwan if China drops its claim. Taiwan is the nearest nation, and this should have happened when it became independent after World War II. China’s reaction would be interesting, but this would diffuse the issue and improve relations with Taiwan.

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  4. unitedsnake
    *china is destroying the coral reef in scs*

    fact
    the snake has already destroyed unesco certified natural treasures in okinawa, jeju, diego garcia, bikini island, etc etc, not to mention kicking out old farmers, fishermen from their ancestral homes.

    unitedsnake
    *china is militarising the scs*

    fact
    china is only building some facilities on some uninhabitated isle in scs, the snake has militarised the whole scs, ecs , not to mention the god damned planet !

    unitedsnake
    *china is violating fon*

    the latest score of fon violation stand at…

    china 0
    snake > dozens

    if there’s justice in this world,
    the snake should be the one in the dock answering a charge sheet 12 storeys high,
    instead of prancing around the world stage like a punk kid with his first gun !

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  5. Yes, and the US government killed 58,000+ of it own people

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  6. I discovered the Marine Traffic website last year . I initially spent hours on it looking at traffic patterns and types of ships . While the site is primarily for commercial use you can have a fleet of 5 ships for free and get thirty free updates on arrivals/departures a month. And you can lookup and locate any ship in their database of 623110 vessels .

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  7. Thanks very much for this calm, fact-based and instructive piece of analysis. I really appreciate it.

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  8. not to mention the number of vietnamese dead. and with the current media being a mindless zombie side show, we will never have the kind of reporting we have since the vietnam war.

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  9. Which means, of course, it’s time to hype that PRC threat to the Indian Ocean!

    I loled.

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  10. During the Cold War, most Americans used to get their pants wet on hearing the word RUSSIANS. Now, Russians are replaced by MUSLIMS and CHINESE.

    Since 2012, the Ziocon think tanks like ‘Center for a New American Security (CNAS)’ are preparing Americans for a new ‘deadly war’ against China for the control of South China Sea. The Washington-based CNAS a report stated: “The geostrategic significance of the South China Sea is difficult to overstate. To the extent that the world economy has a geographical center, it is in the South China Sea.”

    Nearly 50% of the goods transported between continents by ship go through the South China Sea, accounting for $1.2 trillion in US trade annually. The area has vast, largely untapped natural resources – including oil reserves of seven billion barrels and an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

    Numerous US submarines, both nuclear and non-nuclear have long been guarding US interests in South China Sea for a long time. However, recently, China has declared its presence as an act of aggression in China’s territorial water. In March 2010 Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs Cui Tiankai told visiting US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg and the US national security council’s Jeffrey Bader that China viewed the South China Sea as part of China’s “core interests”, on a par with Taiwan and Tibet.

    The discovery of huge oil/gas reserves has started under-water arms race among the other South China Sea littoral states, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and Brunei. China has over 60 submarines including nine nuclear-powered – to counter US Navy exploiting some of these states’ claims against China.

    On the larger scale, the US by challenging China in the South China Sea has created tens of billion dollars business for armament industry. Australia is spending $36 billion to upgrade its Navy. North Korea is expanding its large fleet of mini-submarines. Japan is adding another eight to its existing 16 boat-fleet. South Korea is selling mini-submarines to Indonesia. Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Bangladesh. Germany has sold three submarine to Israel. India has bought submarines from Russia and Israel.

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/01/20/asia-pacific-and-coming-us-war-for-oilgas/

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  11. *Pipelines are, of course, more expensive to operate and vulnerable to attack by local insurgents and more mysterious forces, as US strategists are suspiciously keen to point out. Ports in third countries are liable to meddling by pro-US governments, factions, and regional proxies*

    mysterious, suspiciously ….hmmm ;-)

    post 911, ever since unitedsnake got its foothold in afpak and the stans, especially after africom set up shop in africa, chinese companies in afpak, myanmar, sri lanka, sudan, congo, libya, nigeria etc etc have been hermorrhaging rmb by the gazillions, due to attacks by mysterious forces [boko haram, aq etc], exotic pandemics [ebola] and outright regime change [libya etc].
    in fact china at one time almost gave up on the gwadar proj in pak cuz of incessant attacks by mysterious insurgents , killing many workers and engineers. [1]

    lately, murkkan officials were suspciously keen to warn the chinese that as their footprint spread, they’r gonna get more attention from mysterious terrarists. these pundits never deign to explain, while the great satan were happily bombing the assorted jihadists homelands, why are chinese being targetted instead ???
    a case in point, in 2004 the pak ttp terrarists hunted down a group of tourists and executed the chinese amongst them. they claimed its was *to avenge murkkan’s drone attacks in pak* !!
    go figures !!
    in the gwadar case, the leader of pak ttp was one of the *most dangerous terrarist* in gitmo as per george bush own words, yet bush himself ordered his release before long and…..the ttp chieftan’s first mission upon release was to kidnap chinese engineers and got some of them killed !!!

    these were surely tales of the unexplained, just like the mysterious massacre of dozens of chinese workers in afghan, 2002. the murkkan puppet regime lost no time in fingering the afghan ttp. yet the afghan ttp rejected the accusation outright, fact is, the afghan militants had never shied away from taking credit for a hit ever, but they maintained this was not their hit cuz their targets were fukus, not china. in fact an anon official later suggested that it was prolly a murkkan/turkey black op to drive out the chinese competion !

    so were these attacks on chinese from afpak, sea to africa FF ops ?
    fact is, afghan ttp was known in the region as good taliban cuz they goes for the great satan, whereas the pak ttp who slaughtered chinese tourists, engineers etc are bad talibans cuz they are cia assets !!!

    whatever,
    .when people like the murkkan sec of *defence* is suspiciously keen to offer terror warning , u better sit up
    and listen !
    remember, no sooner than russia started bombing isis [tm] in syria when ashton carter suspiciously warned that a blowback is due soon.
    sure enough, within weeks, a russian airliner exploded in mid air killing hundreds, then a russian jet flying sortie in syria was ambushed by the turks, the murkkan catpaw !!!

    so here’s the moral of the story,
    russia and china, the next time unitedsnake raise a terror alarm, ignore at your own peril !!!

    [1]

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/ME28Ad01.html

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  12. Regardless, what makes everyone so sure China would choke off the Straits of Malacca in the first place?

    Many in China believes that its the US who would use its task force stationed at Singapore to do this against China. Dominance over the islands is just a precautionary measure.

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  13. That is correct.

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  14. Along the line of this article, here is another excellent article on the ‘Chinese threat’:

    http://www.gregoryclark.net/jt/index.html

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  15. a jp historian Kiyoshi Inoue and a professor Tadayoshi Murata
    challenged the official story

    http://www.skycitygallery.com/japan/diaohist.html

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  16. I recognize that it (China) is becoming a considerable threat.” [sic]
    – Foreign Minister Taro Aso

    when taro aso visited india in 2013, he told the hosts,
    jp and china never had a cordial relation in the past two centuries ! [sic]

    i wonder why, aso san ?
    *jp aggression against china started way back in the ming dynasty, when jp pirates terrolised chinese coaster towns.
    *jp robbed tw and diaoyu in 1894
    *jp partook in the rape of peking, 1900 [1]
    *jp invaded china, ww2, committed many actrocities during 8 yrs of brutal war.
    *ffw 2016, jp is abetting murkka doing to china what washington did to jp itself in 1939.

    [1]

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Troops_of_the_Eight_nations_alliance_1900.jpg

    jp, india were there in 1900,
    today they are still on the wrong side of history, as the western imperialists designated local compradors.

    http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/confirmed-japan-will-permanently-join-us-india-naval-exercises/

    p.s.
    the diplomat censored my comments,
    hehehe

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  17. You may have missed the point of this article. You are responding to the US rhetoric on “freedom of navigation”, which is just the usual US establishment’s fog created from evaporated horse manure. Peter is showing in this strategic analysis, together with a top of envelope financial analysis, that there is very low potential trade damage to any of the countries using SCS trade route even if China were to close off the SCS route for trade, as the US claims. It is very clear that it is totally opposite – it is the US which wants to deny China the SCS trade route, principally oil deliveries from ME, because it believes it could repeat the historical blockade of Japan from the 1930s. Though chance, because China has already diversified its trade routes and will continue to do so, especially via the Silk Road land routes. As long as Russia and China are friendly, there is no chance of oil and gas denial to China. The moronic US policies of antagonizing just about everybody on the planet, especially both Russia and China at the same time, will finally bear fruits in the form of the guaranteed US decline, firstly in the economic sphere, followed by the military sphere.

    Trying to remain the biggest swinging dick of the planet, the US will just remain a dick.

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  18. Whatever you think of US meddling in the Middle East, the picture in SEA is completely different. Apart from freedom of navigation, which the US has upheld ever since the end of WWII, the Chinese are laying claim to alleged littoral territories that by international law belong to Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Why don’t you deal with this instead of the secondary issue of freedom of navigation? Everyone respects freedom of navigation, its just a bloody red herring.

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  19. * Why don’t you deal with this instead of the secondary issue of freedom of navigation?*

    why dont u ask the snake ?

    its supposedly neutral on the sovereinty issue [cough cough], it’s here exclusively to *enforce fon* [cough cough], peter lee has just called out his bs, the snake itself is the problem !
    it should butt out of here pronto. !

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  20. Why doesn’t China test America and see if we mean business? I am just itching to boycott Chinese imports too see how China responds. Come on China lets get it on.

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  21. *Whatever you think of US meddling in the Middle East, the picture in SEA is completely different*

    sounds like another eric margoris, so uncle sham is doing the *right* stuff in scs lol, regardless of whatever crimes he committed elsewhere?
    a criminal holding court.
    i guess it make sense too… considering where u come from !
    [1]

    since u wanna talk internatonal law, i’ve got news for u, uncle sham’s *meddling* [sic] in the m.e., africa, asia amounts to *supreme international crimes* as per the neuremberg trial.
    ergo, whatever u think of the scs , uncle sham has no fucking biz here, it should be in the dock answering a charge sheet stacked up to 12 storeys high. [2]
    the only reason its still prancing around as a *world cop* [sic] is cuz its the biggest and meanest mofo around, knowing that nobody can touch him. see, thats your *international law* !

    *Apart from freedom of navigation, which the US has upheld ever since the end of WWII, *

    u aint born yesterday are u ?
    anybody who still believes in uncle sham the *world cop* fairly tale should stick with harry potters or some such, politics is for adults.

    [1]

    http://www.countercurrents.org/poonawalla010514.htm

    [2]
    ditto bharat,
    the snake and the elephant are partners made in hell/heaven ,depends on your perspective.

    http://www.countercurrents.org/miller120207.htm

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  22. “the Chinese are laying claim to alleged littoral territories that by international law belong to Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.”

    Even if that is 100% true, why is that the USA’s concern, problem or issue? That is Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia’s problem.

    “Everyone respects freedom of navigation.”

    The British certainly didn’t respect it in 1914-1918. Their blockade resulted in a million German civilians dying of starvation. They maintained the blockade for over a full year AFTER Germany surrendered.

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  23. It is the main question at issue. Not the bogus one about freedom of navigation. Take the question of US involvement up with your representatives.

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  24. >>> task force stationed at Singapore

    Clearly, you have never actually been at Sembawang Basin or Changi port.

    The TOTAL capacity of the military side of Sembawang is…. two medium size vesssels. And the muricans have to share that with four other countries which use it (Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand). A lot of times, the place has NO vessels moored.

    It’s true that the Subway sandwich shop is very popular. Although for my money, the ones out in town, have a more reliable inventory of selections. The Semabawang Subway does breakfast and lunch, but closes at 3pm. After 3pm, people are already doing their pre-drinking and steak-dinnering at (British operated) Terror Club.

    Inside the fence enclosing Terror Club, there exists the only ATM in Singapore which dispenses US dollars. Big shout-out to Navy Federal Credit Union!!

    All the 5 Navys are (un-offically, but no doubt factually) dependent upon the logistical competence of the family which runs Mrs Fong’s Store. She can arrange anything that’s legal. The very face of Singaporean Han Chinese competence.

    Don’t feel bad. Onboard British-territory DiegoGarcia Island, even the Brits pay their forces in US currency. The Filipino bands that get flown in from Manila prefer to be tipped in dollars, I guess.

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  25. ivan,

    when it comes to *supreme international crimes* [aka naked aggressions], delhi would give washington a good run for its money.
    since independence india has invaded and devoured goa, sikkim, kashmir, manipur, assam, nagaland, tripuna, made bhutan its ‘protectorate’ , tried its best to annex nepal , a feat the brit colonial teachers would be proud of !
    they dont call india south asia’s usa for nothing u know , their only difference being in scope.
    murkkan imperialism is global while the elephant is local…at least for the time being !
    no gaurantee it would remains so since bharat is militarising like mad , building up a global navy modelling after its murkkan mentor.

    when u say china lays claim to territories ‘lawfully’ belong to vn, ph, malaysia, u/r simply parroting the snake’s propaganda.
    china’s claim precedes the socalled unclos, which was entirely an uncle sham concoction, custom made to undermine china’s position. hardly the final words on ‘international law’

    otoh, the status of Arunachal Pradesh, sikkim, nagaland, manipur, assam, kashmir, the seven sisters….
    are clear cut, illegit war booties.
    some democracy !

    while uncle sham’s muscling into scs has its usual nefarious agenda, indian prying is no less duplicitous !
    as an indian, shouldnt u deal with the crimes of your own country instead of poking your nose in someone else biz, whatever happens to charity starts at home ??
    hypocrisy must be one of those vaunted ‘shared value’ of murkkans and indians !

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  26. Red China is encroaching on the EEZ of other countries by occupying the Spratlys. They are claiming the Spratlys are sovereign territory, but that has never been the case, and artificial islands are not recognized as such under international conventions. China is militarizing the West Philippine Sea and is claiming an old line that was never recognized by anyone else.

    China is the aggressor in the West Philippine Sea.

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  27. *China is militarizing the West Philippine Sea and is claiming an old line that was never recognized by anyone else.*

    why u sound like that ashton carter…..
    robber crying robbery !!!

    *China is the aggressor in the West Philippine Sea.*

    as per the unitedsnake, the worst aggressor in human history !!!

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  28. Obama’s “shift to the Pacific” is a crock of shit, along with his other foreign policy initiatives like the destruction of Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, and a new Cold War with Russia that we don’t need. Obama is nearly as bad at foreign policy as Bush was.

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  29. obama came to the wh with a regime change trophy already under his belt.

    how the ‘son of kenya’ [sic] did his motherland….
    *During the parliamentary elections of December 2007, a survey funded by USAID announces the victory of Odinga. On election day, John McCain announced that President Kibaki rigged the election in favor of his party and that in fact the opposition led by Odinga had won. The NSA, in conjunction with local phone operators, sent anonymous text messages to the population. In areas populated by the Luo (Odinga’s ethnic group), they read “Dear Kenyans, the Kikuyu have stolen our children’s future… We must treat them in the only way that they understand… with violence.” In areas populated by Kikuyu, they read: “The blood of any innocent Kikuyu will be paid. We will slaughter them right to the heart of the capital. For Justice, establish a list of Luos that you know. We will send you the phone numbers to call with such information.” Within days, this peaceful country sank into sectarian violence. The riots caused over 1 000 deaths and 300 000 displaced. 500 000 jobs were lost.
    ……………………….
    Madeleine Albright came back. She offered to mediate between President Kibaki and the opposition trying to overthrow him. With finesse, she stepped aside and placed in the spotlight the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The board of this respected NGO was newly chaired by the former Prime Minister of Norway, Thorbjørn Jagland.

    Breaking with the Center’s traditional impartiality, he sent two mediators on site, whose expenses were entirely footed by Madeleine Albright’s NDI (that is to say ultimately out of the U.S. Department of State’s budget): another former Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan (the Ghanaian is very much on the scene in Scandinavian states since he married the niece of Raoul Wallenberg). Compelled to accept the compromises forced on him in order to restore civil peace, President Kibaki agreed to create a prime minister post and to entrust it to Raila Odinga, who immediately began reducing trade with China.*

    sounds familiar, chile, venezuela, libya, ukraine……..?

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article162559.html

    obama was touted as the prez for change, how did it work out ?
    8 yrs of wars dwarfing bush’s shock n awe !
    yet the sheeples are currently gushing over the ‘anti establishment’ guys trump and sanders , two great white hope that promise a brighter future !

    fool me once…….

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  30. meanwhile, the “peaceful atom” is on doing its magic
    “…radiation from Fukushima along the US West Coast is expected to continue to worsen…”There are no safe levels of radiation for biological systems. That terminology is used by the nuclear industry to cover their inevitable radioactive releases.”

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34565-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-is-leaking-into-the-pacific

    “Radioactive water from the Fukushima disaster continues to be released into the Pacific, and spread around the globe. …” There is a system of biological magnification by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain: algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish.” That means that the radiation’s impact on the planet’s ecology expands the further it moves up and across the food chain.”
    Meanwhile in the United States, the nuclear industry continues apace…. In Japan, US citizens living there who were located within a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima plant were required to evacuate. Within the United States, more than 120 million people live within a 50-mile evacuation zone of a nuclear plant. Meanwhile, officials from TEPCO have admitted they are not sure when their company might be able to solve its multitude of problems, and begin to reduce the amount of contaminated water at the plant. When it comes to the nuclear industry, it seems, it is always difficult to determine when a disaster will end – or if it will end at all.”

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  31. Peter Flea, this no-good japper say bad thing about Chinee.

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  32. III. Maritime Power 2.0: The South China Sea dilemma – paperstrategistblog 天策上將
    says:
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    […] http://www.unz.com/plee/good-news-world-you-can-stop-worrying-about-the-south-china-sea/ [Jan 23, 2016] […]

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  33. 351- Mer de Chine … Que font les Américains ? et pourquoi ? – Sans à priori
    says:
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    […] Par Peter Lee – Le 23 janvier 2016 – Source UNZ […]

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