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Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.) But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.

That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well . China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.

The then-secretary-of-state-designate — he’s since been confirmed, despite many negative votes — didn’t, however, stop there. Evidently, he wanted to communicate to the Chinese leadership in Beijing that the new administration was already irked beyond measure with them. So he added, “We’re going to have to send China’s leaders a clear signal: that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is not going to be allowed.” Functionally, that fell little short of being an announcement of a future act of war, since not allowing “access” to those islands would clearly involve military moves. In what amounted to a there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town warning, he then doubled down yet again, insisting, slightly incoherently (in the tradition of his new boss) that “the failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”

All right, so maybe a novice had a bad day. Maybe the secretary-of-state-to-be simply ad-libbed and misspoke… whatever. If so, you might have expected a later clarification from him or from someone on the Trump national security team anyway.

That didn’t happen; instead, that team stuck to its guns. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made no effort to add nuance to, let alone walk back, Tillerson’s remarks. During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

And what of Trump’s own views on the island controversy? Never one to pass up an opportunity for hyperbole, during the presidential campaign he swore that, on those tiny islands, China was building “a military fortress the likes of which the world has not seen.” As it happened, he wasn’t speaking about, say, the forces that Hitler massed for the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941 with the aim of crushing the Red Army and the Soviet Union, or those deployed for the June 1944 Normandy landing, which sealed Nazi Germany’s fate. When applied to what China has been up to in the South China Sea, his statement fell instantly into the not-yet-named category of “alternative facts.”

Candidate Trump also let it be known that he wouldn’t allow Beijing to get away with such cheekiness on his watch. Why had the Chinese engaged in military construction on the islands? Trump had a simple answer (as he invariably does): China “has no respect for our president and no respect for our country.” The implication was evident. Things would be different once he settled into the White House and made America great again. Then — it was easy enough to conclude — China had better watch out.

Standard campaign bombast? Well, Trump hasn’t changed his tune a bit since being elected. On December 4th, using (of course!) his Twitter account, he blasted Beijing for having built “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.” And it’s safe to assume that he signed off on Spicer’s combative comments as well.

In short, his administration has already drawn a red line — but in the way a petulant child might with a crayon. During and after the campaign he made much of his determination to regain the respect he claims the U.S. has lost in the world, notably from adversaries like China. The danger here is that, in dealing with that country, Trump could, as is typical, make it all about himself, all about “winning,” one of his most beloved words, and disaster might follow.

Whose Islands?

A military clash between Trump-led America and a China led by President Xi Jinping? Understanding how it might happen requires a brief detour to the place where it’s most likely to occur: the South China Sea. Our first task: to understand China’s position on that body of water and the islands it contains, as well as the nature of Beijing’s military projects there. So brace yourself for some necessary detail.

As Marina Tsirbas, a former diplomat now at the Australian National University’s National Security College, explains, Beijing’s written and verbal statements on the South China Sea lend themselves to two different interpretations. The Chinese government’s position boils down to something like this: “We own everything — the waters, islands and reefs, marine resources, and energy and mineral deposits — within the Nine-Dash Line.” That demarcation line, which incidentally has had ten dashes, and sometimes eleven, originally appeared in 1947 maps of the Republic of China, the Nationalist government that would soon flee to the island of Taiwan leaving the Chinese Communists in charge of the mainland. When Mao Ze Dong and his associates established the People’s Republic, they retained that Nationalist map and the demarcation line that went with it, which just happened to enclose virtually all of the South China Sea, claiming sovereign rights.

This stance — think of it as Beijing’s hard line on the subject — raises instant questions about other countries’ navigation and overflight rights through that much-used region. In essence, do they have any and, if so, will Beijing alone be the one to define what those are? And will those definitions start to change as China becomes ever more powerful? These are hardly trivial concerns, given that about $5 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea annually.

Then there’s what might be called Beijing’s softer line, based on rights accorded by the legal concepts of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which took effect in 1994 and has been signed by 167 states (including China but not the United States), a country has sovereign control within 12 nautical miles of its coast as well as of land formations in that perimeter visible at high tide. But other countries have the right of “innocent passage.” The EEZ goes further. It provides a rightful claimant control over access to fishing, as well as seabed and subsoil natural resources , within “an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea” extending 200 nautical miles, while ensuring other states’ freedom of passage by air and sea. UNCLOS also gives a state with an EEZ control over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures” within that zone — an important provision at our present moment.

What makes all of this so much more complicated is that many of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea that provide the basis for defining China’s EEZ are also claimed by other countries under the terms of UNCLOS. That, of course, immediately raises questions about the legality of Beijing’s military construction projects in that watery expanse on islands, atolls, and strips of land it’s dredging into existence, as well as its claims to seabed energy resources, fishing rights, and land reclamation rights there — to say nothing about its willingness to seize some of them by force, rival claims be damned.

Moreover, figuring out which of these two positions — hard or soft — China embraces at any moment is tricky indeed. Beijing, for instance, insists that it upholds freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Sea, but it has also said that these rights don’t apply to warships and military aircraft. In recent years its warplanes have intercepted, and at close quarters, American military aircraft flying outside Chinese territorial waters in the same region. Similarly, in 2015, Chinese aircraft and ships followed and issued warnings to an American warship off Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, which both China and Vietnam claim in their entirety. This past December, its Navy seized, but later returned, an underwater drone the American naval ship Bowditch had been operating near the coast of the Philippines.

There were similar incidents in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014. In the second of these episodes, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which had a crew of 24 on board, less than 70 miles off Hainan island, forcing it to make an emergency landing in China and creating a tense standoff between Beijing and Washington. The Chinese detained the crew for 11 days. They disassembled the EP-3, returning it three months later in pieces.

Such muscle flexing in the South China Sea isn’t new. China has long been tough on its weaker neighbors in those waters. Back in 1974, for instance, its forces ejected South Vietnamese troops from parts of the Paracel/Xisha islands that Beijing claimed but did not yet control. China has also backed up its claim to the Spratly/Nansha islands (which Taiwan, Vietnam, and other regional countries reject) with air and naval patrols, tough talk, and more. In 1988, it forcibly occupied the Vietnamese-controlled Johnson Reef, securing control over the first of what would eventually become seven possessions in the Spratlys.

Vietnam has not been the only Southeast Asian country to receive such rough treatment. China and the Philippines both claim ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal/Huangyang Island, located 124 nautical miles off Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 2012, Beijing simply seized it, having already ejected Manila from Panganiban Reef (aka Mischief Reef), about 129 nautical miles from the Philippines’ Palawan Island, in 1995. In 2016, when an international arbitration tribunal upheld Manila’s position on Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sniffed that “the decision is invalid and has no binding force.” Chinese president Xi Jinping added for good measure that China’s claims to the South China Sea stretched back to “ancient times.”

Then there’s China’s military construction work in the area, which includes the building of full-scale artificial islands, as well as harbors, military airfields, storage facilities, and hangars reinforced to protect military aircraft. In addition, the Chinese have installed radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-missile defense systems on some of these islands.

These , then, are the projects that the Trump administration says it will stop. But China’s conduct in the South China Sea leaves little doubt about its determination to hold onto what it has and continue its activities. The Chinese leadership has made this clear since Donald Trump’s election, and the state-run press has struck a similarly defiant note, drawing crude red lines of its own. For example, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, mocked Trump’s pretensions and issued a doomsday warning: “The U.S. has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”

Were the administration to follow its threatening talk with military action, the Global Times added ominously, “The two sides had better prepare for a military clash.” Although the Chinese leadership hasn’t been anywhere near as bombastic, top officials have made it clear that they won’t yield an inch on the South China Sea, that disputes over territories are matters for China and its neighbors to settle, and that Washington had best butt out.

True, as the acolytes of a “unipolar” world remind us, China’s military spending amounts to barely more than a quarter of Washington’s and U.S. naval and air forces are far more advanced and lethal than their Chinese equivalents. However, although there certainly is a debate about the legal validity and historical accuracy of China’s territorial claims, given the increasingly acrimonious relationship between Washington and Beijing the more strategically salient point may be that these territories, thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland, mean so much more to China than they do to the United States. By now, they are inextricably bound up with its national identity and pride, and with powerful historical and nationalistic memories — with, that is, a sense that, after nearly two centuries of humiliation at the hands of the West, China is now a rising global power that can no longer be pushed around.

Behind such sentiments lies steel. By buying some $30 billion in advanced Russian armaments since the early 1990s and developing the capacity to build advanced weaponry of its own, China has methodically acquired the military means, and devised a strategy, to inflict serious losses on the American navy in any clash in the South China Sea, where geography serves as its ally. Beijing may, in the end, lose a showdown there, but rest assured that it would exact a heavy price before that. What sort of “victory” would that be?

If the fighting starts, it will be tough for the presidents of either country to back down. Xi Jinping, like Trump, presents himself as a tough guy, sure to trounce his enemies at home and abroad. Retaining that image requires that he not bend when it comes to defending China’s land and honor. He faces another problem as well. Nationalism long ago sidelined Maoism in his country. As a result, were he and his colleagues to appear pusillanimous in the face of a Trumpian challenge, they would risk losing their legitimacy and potentially bringing their people onto the streets (something that can happen quickly in the age of social media). That’s a particularly forbidding thought in what is arguably the most rebellious land in the historical record. In such circumstances, the leadership’s abiding conviction that it can calibrate the public’s nationalism to serve the Communist Party’s purposes without letting it get out of hand may prove delusional.

Certainly, the Party understands the danger that runaway nationalism could pose to its authority. Its paper, the People’s Daily, condemned the “irrational patriotism” that manifested itself in social media forums and street protests after the recent international tribunal’s verdict favoring the Philippines. And that’s hardly the first time a foreign policy fracas has excited public passions. Think, for example, of the anti-Japanese demonstrations that swept the country in 2005, provoked by Japanese school textbooks that sanitized that country’s World War II-era atrocities in China. Those protests spread to many cities, and the numbers were sizeable with more than 10,000 angry demonstrators on the streets of Shanghai alone. At first, the leadership encouraged the rallies, but it got nervous as things started to spin out of control.

“We’re Going to War in the South China Sea…”

Facing off against China, President Trump could find himself in a similar predicament, having so emphasized his toughness, his determination to regain America’s lost respect and make the country great again. The bigger problem, however, will undoubtedly be his own narcissism and his obsession with winning, not to mention his inability to resist sending incendiary messages via Twitter. Just try to imagine for a moment how a president who blows his stack during a getting-to-know-you phone call with the prime minister of Australia, a close ally, is likely to conduct himself in a confrontation with a country he’s labeled a prime adversary.

In the event of a military crisis between China and the United States, neither side may want an escalation, to say nothing of a nuclear war. Yet Trump’s threats to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. and his repeated condemnation of China as a “currency manipulator” and stealer of American jobs have already produced a poisonous atmosphere between the world’s two most powerful countries. And it was made worse by his December phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, which created doubts about his commitment to the One China policy the United States has adhered to since 1972. The Chinese authorities apparently made it clear to the White House that there couldn’t even be a first-time phone call to Xi unless the new president agreed to stick with that policy. During a conversation with the Chinese president on February 9th, Trump reportedly provided that essential assurance. Given the new American president’s volatility, however, Beijing will be playing close attention to his words and actions, even his symbolic ones, related to Taiwan.

Sooner or later, if Trump doesn’t also dial down the rest of his rhetoric on China, its leaders will surely ratchet up theirs, thereby aggravating the situation further. So far, they’ve restrained themselves in order to figure Trump out — not an easy task even for Americans — and in hopes that his present way of dealing with the world might be replaced with something more conventional and recognizable. Hope, as they say, springs eternal, but as of now, in repeatedly insisting that China must do as he says, Trump and his surrogates have inserted themselves and the country into a complicated territorial dispute far from America’s shores. The hubris of Washington acting as the keeper of world order, but regularly breaking the rules as it wishes, whether by invading Iraq in 2003 or making open use of torture and a global network of secret prisons, is an aspect of American behavior long obvious to foreign powers. It looks to be the essence of Trumpism, too, even if its roots are old indeed.

Don’t dismiss the importance of heated exchanges between Washington and Beijing in the wake of Trump’s election. The political atmosphere between rival powers, especially those with massive arsenals, can matter a great deal when they face off in a crisis. Pernicious stereotypes and mutual mistrust only increase the odds that crucial information will be misinterpreted in the heat of the moment because of entrenched beliefs that are immune to contrary evidence, misperceptions, worst-case calculations, and up-the-ante reactions. In academic jargon, these constitute the ingredients for a classic conflict spiral. In such a situation, events take control of leaders, producing outcomes that none of them sought. Not for nothing during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 did President John Kennedy look to Barbara Tuchman’s book, Guns of August — a gripping account of how Europe slipped and slid into a disastrous world war in 1914.

There has been lots of anxiety about the malign effects that Donald Trump’s temperament and beliefs could have domestically, and for good reason. But in domestic politics, institutions and laws, civic organizations, the press, and public protests can serve, however imperfectly, as countervailing forces. In international politics, crises can erupt suddenly and unfold rapidly — and the checks on rash behavior by American presidents are much weaker. They have considerable leeway to use military force (having repeatedly circumvented the War Powers Act). They can manipulate public opinion from the Bully Pulpit and shape the flow of information. (Think back to the Iraq war.) Congress typically rallies reflexively around the flag during international crises. In such moments, citizens’ criticism or mass protest invites charges of disloyalty.

This is why the brewing conflict in the South China Sea and rising animosities on both sides could produce something resembling a Cuban-Missile-Crisis-style situation — with the United States lacking the geographical advantage this time around. If you think that a war between China and the United States couldn’t possibly happen, you might have a point in ordinary times, which these distinctly aren’t.

Take the latest news on Stephen Bannon, formerly the executive chairman of the alt-right publication Breitbart News and now President Trump’s chief political strategist. He has even been granted the right to sit in on every meeting of the National Security Council and its Principals Committee, the highest inter-agency forum for day-to-day national security deliberations. He will be privy to meetings that, according to a directive signed by Trump, even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence may not join unless “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise will be discussed.” Calling this a break with past practice would be an understatement of the first order.

So Bannon’s views, once of interest only to a fringe group of Americans, now matter greatly. Here’s what he said last March about China in a radio interview: “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we? There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

Think of this as Bannon’s version of apocalyptic prophecy. Then consider the volatility of the new president he advises. Then focus on the larger message: these are not ordinary times. Most Americans probably don’t even know that there is a South China Sea. Count on one thing, though: they will soon.

Rajan Menon, a TomDispatch regular, is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, China, Donald Trump 
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  1. Good piece, but a little behind on China’s weapons (‘U.S. naval and air forces are far more advanced and lethal than their Chinese equivalents’) and its legitimate claims to those islands and reefs.

    China’s defensive arsenal is (much) more advanced than their American counterparts, from its Type 052D destroyers that are superior to our Arleigh Burke class, to its DF-21D and -41D ASBMs, its Scan Eagle drones, invisible subs, and, as you conceded, an overwhelming geographical advantage.

    China’s claims to the islands are pretty well established. State Dept Chief of Spatial and Boundary Analysis, Daniel Dzurek recounting how Japan returned the South China Sea to China after WWII in treaties that adhered to Japan’s surrender agreement:

    “Because the Allies, in particular the United Kingdom and the United States, could not agree on which government represented China, no Chinese delegation participated in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference. Therefore the Republic of China (Taiwan) negotiated a separate peace treaty with Japan, signed on 28 April 1952. Article 2 of the text included a reference to the San Francisco treaty:

    “It is recognized that under Article 2 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in the city of San Francisco in the United States of American on September 8 1951, Japan has renounced all right, title and claim to Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) as well as the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands””

    Republic of China has argued that the explicit reference to the Spratly and Paracel islands in the text of this bilateral treaty implies Japanese recognition of Chinese sovereignty. Samuels and Lu have observed that, unlike the 1951 treaty, the Sino-Japanese text mentions the Spratly and Paracel islands in the same sentence as Taiwan and the Pescadores islands. The latter are generally recognized as Chinese territories. Moreover, according to the negotiating record Japan insisted that the renunciation article deal only with Chinese territory. This shows that the ROC and Japan viewed the islands of Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Spratlys, and tha Paracels as having a similar status – that is, belonging to China”.


    • Replies: @What
  2. I think a US-China naval war in the South China Sea is definitely possible, especially if both parties believe they can prevent it escalating into a nuclear holocaust. Looking at the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the UK-Argentine Falklands War provides hints at how such a conflict might be ‘quarantined’, with both sides restricting the area of operations (South China Sea, no attacks on enemy mainland) and weaponry (no nukes). A classic inter-state ‘limited war’ of the kind that was standard 1815-1914.

    What would be the result of such a clash? My guess would be that China would ‘lose’, in the sense of losing control of many or all of its bases in the South China Sea, but also ‘win’ in the sense of inflicting heavy losses on the USA, and the result would be something like the Yom Kippur War in which both sides might claim victory. This ‘peace with honour’ result is always the best you can hope for in inter-state war. Especially if China got to retain some territory, she could claim to have successfully repelled attack by a stronger enemy, and everyone would be happy (except possibly the relatives of the dead).

    Conversely, an overwhelming victory for either side could be very bad, destabilising the loser. A defeated Chinese leadership would be discredited and might be overthrown. There might even be a disastrous State Collapse of the type William S Lind warns against, turning east Asia into the Middle East. Defeated but intact China would be a less severe result – it would nurse its wounds and plot revenge, but have limited ability to gain revenge in the near term. The world would darken but this might be recoverable.

    A defeated US leadership would likely also be overthrown (impeached/forced resignation) but this would not likely result in US State collapse. A likelier result would be that the US under new leadership, seeing itself as still militarily stronger, would refuse peace and seek a rematch/revenge on more favourable terms, resulting in a long drawn out war with the possibility of nuclear escalation and global holocaust (especially if Russia were drawn in on the US side).

    • Replies: @KA
    , @Randal
    , @Joe Wong
  3. If we got in a nuclear war and lost Berkley and the Ninth Circuit, then that would be tragic.

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  4. mtn cur says:

    What do these people mean with their imitation Monroe Doctrine. Anyone would think that the South China Sea is the one right next to China and that the Crimean is next to Russia and whatever remains of the black sea fleet .We will have room to complain when we give back the northern half of Mexico, which we stole at gunpoint, or better yet, let’s give back California and Texas and keep the rest.

    • Replies: @Wally
  5. @Steel T Post

    ahah, with that attitude, lets press the big red button 😛

  6. Anonymous [AKA "justcommenting"] says:

    The scary thing is to what extent both governments are influenced by Zionist elements.

    Clearly a US China war would not be in the interest of either country but it just might be in the interest of the Zionists who probably have more say in the matter than anyone.

    Both sides have built a lot of hardware that needs exercised and made obsolete so that both countries have to get back to the banks for some more loans for some more equipment.

    • Replies: @Grahamsno(G64)
  7. Sean says:

    Yes, the US is poking its nose in China’s back yard, and the US not only can it must because it is the global superpower and there can only be one. Read Mearsheimer to understand why not interfering in every part of the world is a hardly an option. If the US is so worried about annoying China now that China is left alone, in a generation or two China will be number one and then they (in self defence) will be will interfering in the US’s backyard. This is the time to pick a argument, and exert military pressure on China with a economy-overheating arms race.

    There is going to be war, a cold war, whereby the US will prevail as against Russia. One county has the world’s most powerful economy / innovative technology and thus cannot be defeated–yet. Double down on China and stop them achieving world domination.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    , @Randal
  8. KA says:
    @Simon in London

    US has to get Pakistan out of Chinese orbit. India wants to play along seeing a match between China and US beneficial to his interest .But what about other countries? S Korea and Japan and Taiwan will be there for US . I can see a possibility that Taiwan even allowing American base and nukes down the line if push comes to shove . Rest of the Asian countries will stay idle or go over to China. But there is huge Chinese diaspora in many countries -wealthy and nationalistic .Will it become a political issue soon? Anti Chinese attitude will affect American educational system It will also give rise to new anxiety within many of the these countries .

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  9. @Anonymous

    “The scary thing is to what extent both governments are influenced by Zionist elements.”

    LMAO the tribe now runs China – moron.

  10. @KA

    there is a red line for the chinese govt regarding taiwan. not recognizing the 1 china policy = zero contact between the 2 countries. it is why trump had to back off. american base or nuke in taiwan? it won’t be the cuban missile crisis, I think it would instantly be all out war. to the ccp, that is akin to an invasion as it considers taiwan a province.

  11. Americans do not understand that citizens of Taiwan and South Korea see China as more an ally than the USA. China is their major trading partner and culturally similar.

    Here is a clear explanation of the island conflict 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:

    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.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  12. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Abandon Taiwan and South Korea please.

  13. Miro23 says:

    Bannon: “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we? There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

    This is a good indicator that it might happen.

    Also, there’s the classic setup on the Chinese side of a growing Nationalist power with Imperial grievances, an unstable economy and an insecure leadership without Democratic legitimacy.
    They may also recall how a rising Japan delivered a stinging naval defeat to Imperial Russia in 1905 to assert their Asian dominance. If the US experiences a similar big naval defeat (possible) then Trump would need to decide if he is ready for nuclear war.

    Any sane answer would have to be no, but he doesn’t like to be a “loser” and the Deep State is longing for a National Emergency to launch their own dictatorship in the US, so the dynamic might be there.

  14. Sam J. says:

    The whole South China Sea business is stupid for the US to be involved in. One reason is stationary bases are becoming obsolete. A stationary base is a known target that can be dialed in and mercilessly pummeled. How much operational benefit do you believe the Chinese can get out of those Islands in a real war? Not much. Submarines can sink their supplies and they can be smashed by cruise missiles every 1/2 hour.

    Why should we be so concerned with the South China Sea? It’s hardly any of our goods or ships that go through there. We don’t have any commercial shipping to speak of.

    A far better path to take would be if they stop our ships going through there then they have abrogated sea treaties of long standing and we’ll just not let them in our seas or Oceans. Like the Atlantic, the Pacific., the Indian, the Mediterranean, etc. This puts the onus on them. This plays to our strengths. Let them have the China Sea and we’ll take the rest. A good word play on this is if they molest our ships constantly call them pirates and remind them of what happened to pirate shipping in the 17th century and why we made sea treaties in the first place.

    • Replies: @Wally
    , @Wizard of Oz
  15. Forgive me raising a question before reading all in the hope of maximising the chance of getting an informed answer. I have searched for “reef” and not found the answer yet so…..

    Why doesn’t the US (or Japan, or the US and Japan jointly, to mention only some of the possibilities) lease an atoll or reef or three from the Philippines and/or other states and build its own island and facilities? The need to maintain the freedom of the seas in competition with China’s aggressive claims is vastly exaggerated IMO but, anyway, such US installations could surely guarantee at least minimum South China Sea free passage. Even a 12 mile limit might be enough???
    I say “exaggerated” because nearly all seaborne trade with Japan or South Korea, including bulk iron ore shipments from Australia can readily use a not much longer route to the east of the Philippines, and virtually all other traffic would be to China itself. (I leave it to others to deal with the minutiae of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.).

    So is it really like Russia and Crimea? It doesn’t really matter except for the principle of enforcing the rule of law? As it happens I think the obvious answer to the Crimean issue is for Ukraine and Russia to agree that Crimean residents can vote for independence but not to become part of Russia for X years (preferably 50 but maybe 25) when they can vote again. Unfortunately countries, especially big ones, don’t seem very good at trading oranges for apples.

    • Replies: @Randal
  16. @Carlton Meyer

    I still haven’t read enough since writing #12 but am glad to read in your comment that you do see the merit of sidestepping what is superficially the main confrontation and trading, so to speak, apples, oranges and beans.

  17. Anonymous [AKA "Bruce Leigh"] says:

    As soon as China stashes away a few hundred more tons of gold and amputates the dollar by cashing in their trillions in US Treasury bonds, there might not be another president after Trump, only oligarchs and FEMA camps with NATO troops keeping civil order. *** *** link to “Who are the real progressives, and who are not real progressives”? –bruce leigh

  18. Randal says:
    @Simon in London

    My guess would be that China would ‘lose’, in the sense of losing control of many or all of its bases in the South China Sea, but also ‘win’ in the sense of inflicting heavy losses on the USA, and the result would be something like the Yom Kippur War in which both sides might claim victory. This ‘peace with honour’ result is always the best you can hope for in inter-state war.

    This is a possibility, but by no means guaranteed. Alternatively, it might turn out that China can successfully exclude US naval forces from operating in and around the SCS. Too much depends on the performance of high tech systems that are essentially untested in a major war, and on the attitudes of other countries such as Russia, India and Japan, as well as on the political power available to the US president in terms of the attitude of the American people to the war. A US war against China in response to a (real or fabricated) “Pearl Harbor” type event would be a very different thing from one seen as another interventionist adventure like Iraq. What would be the US’s response to the sinking, or even seriously damaging, of a carrier in a war that will not necessarily be seen as justified? What chance is there that the media and political figures in the US left establishment will unite behind a Trump war? Absent a “Pearl Harbor” type event: zero, I would have thought (other than a few neocon types who want the particular war in question because of their own external loyalties).

    And is it conceivable that Russia, after the US interference in Ukraine, would want to see a militarily triumphant US free to turn its attention to Russia again, let alone a China in political chaos after a defeat? They’d have to be pretty naïve, and that doesn’t appear to be a particularly salient feature of Russian leadership.

    The attitude behind Bannon’s words, that a war now to halt the rise of a rival is in the US’s interests because a win can still be guaranteed, is surely a decade or so out of date. A win might well be possible, but so is a defeat.

    But the attitude you exemplify here – that a “limited war” is possible – is precisely the one that led the Japanese to disaster in WW2. If it is shared by the US leadership then we are in real danger. It’s a highly dangerous attitude – suppose that instead of meekly accepting defeat in a limited naval war the Chinese, like the US in 1941, decide to wage a war to the death by all means available? Who has the manufacturing capacity to sustain a long war in which manufacture and replacement of military material on WW2-style scales becomes vital, the US or China? Who can better tolerate heavy losses of life? More to the point, perhaps, what chance is there that such a war could avoid escalation to nuclear weapons use?

    The possibility of a war between the US and China is a serious one, because there is a real power rivalry at its root, but I don’t see Trump as wanting it. His attitude towards the Chinese is certainly hostile, but he’s not a militarist nor someone like the Clintons and Bushes who see war as a useful tool of policy. More likely he sees military bluster as merely a prelude to a better deal. But that’s also a dangerous approach.

    Far better would be a US recognition that it can no longer, without unacceptable risks and costs, hold on to the power it gained many decades ago as a result of China’s weakness, and that it should pull its nose out of what by any reasonable judgement is China’s legitimate core security sphere.

  19. Randal says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Why doesn’t the US (or Japan, or the US and Japan jointly, to mention only some of the possibilities) lease an atoll or reef or three from the Philippines and/or other states and build its own island and facilities?

    One point that immediately occurs is cost. If as Steve Sailer recently guesstimated just the repairs to the spillway on one dam will cost “nine figures”, how much do you think it would cost the US to construct an entire island and military base facility in the ocean on the other side of the world? Especially if the garrison based there are going to expect US military standards of comfort and facilities?

    Bear in mind the context as outlined in the article referenced by Steve:

    we see similar effects in infrastructure. The first New York City subway opened around 1900. Various sources list lengths from 10 to 20 miles and costs from $30 million to $60 million dollars – I think my sources are capturing it at different stages of construction with different numbers of extensions. In any case, it suggests costs of between $1.5 million to $6 million dollars/mile = $1-4 million per kilometer. That looks like it’s about the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $100 million/kilometer today, though I’m very uncertain about that estimate. In contrast, Vox notes that a new New York subway line being opened this year costs about $2.2 billion per kilometer, suggesting a cost increase of twenty times – although I’m very uncertain about this estimate.

    Things become clearer when you compare them country-by-country. The same Vox article notes that Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen subways cost about $250 million per kilometer, almost 90% less. Yet even those European subways are overpriced compared to Korea, where a kilometer of subway in Seoul costs $40 million/km (another Korean subway project cost $80 million/km). This is a difference of 50x between Seoul and New York for apparently comparable services.

    Considerations On Cost Disease

    China can afford to do these things not just because it’s in their backyard rather than on the other side of the world, but because they can do public works at a fraction of the costs the US pays.

    Bearing in mind that neither freedom of navigation in the SCS, nor (as we know from the Iraq and Kosovo wars) the supposed “principle of enforcing the rule of law” is actually of any real concern for the US, for which noisy disputes over islands in the SCS are solely for the purpose of generating pretexts for confrontation of a rising rival power and preserving its past dominance of the region, is it worth spending that much just to try to gain a slightly better pretext? Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to make a few provocative military forays there in the hope the Chinese might make the same mistake Japan made in the face of similar US hostility, and sink a US destroyer, or something like that?

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    , @Joe Wong
  20. kek says:

    First Russia, then Iran now China, The Leftists Globalists will not cease in beating the war drums. The deep state Globalists thrive on war like a maggot thrives on flesh. They would love to undermine President Trump by starting a military conflict. Had their puppet HRC won the USA would be one bomb and one order away from war with Russia.

    In the past the deep state has undermined President Clinton, Bush and Obama when they wanted. This is a crime and should be punished but none of the above had the balls to challenge. Trump does. If the deep state thinks they can overcome Trump and the US Army well then let’s have at it; the time has come to drain the swamp infested with deep state spooks and CIA MSM reporters answering to no one but themselves.

    Furthermore anyone advocating a war with Russia, Iran or China please do the USA a favor and jump in front of a train today.

  21. Apparently, most posters here don’t understand the purpose of war. It is to borrow money into circulation, increase the debt, destroy property to borrow money into circulation to replace it, keep the masses focused on an external enemy instead of the one within. I rather doubt there will be a major world war in Trump’s presidency. The owners of this country would rather have a number of smaller wars in 3rd world countries. This serves the same purpose and there are fewer casualties and the military does not grow too large to control. If we engage in another total war, the military will become so large that a coup d’etat would be possible. There are officers in the U.S. and Chinese military that know exactly who pulls the strings.

  22. Wally says:
    @mtn cur

    Sophomoric nonsense from mtn cur about ‘Mexico’, some points:

    It’s wrong to claim that Mexicans were in the US Southwest way before US Euro-whites arrived.

    These ‘Mexicans’ immigrants (Meso-Americans) are descendants of the Aztecs, Mayans and Zapotecs (among others), they never set foot north of the Rio Grande.

    The Mexican-American war (that ‘stole’ Mexico) was a fight between two imperial, European-derived powers. Euro-White ruled Mexico didn’t have any more right to this land than the Euro-Whites who created the US.

    Today’s dark-skinned, Mexican nationals who are now swamping America are late-comers, fleeing a poor, corrupt, and disorganized country that was invented by (and is still dominated by) people whose ancestors hail from Western Europe (Spain). See photo of Mexican Congress. LOL!

    Interestingly, these ‘undocumented immigrants’ still want desperately to live near the gringo. Why? They get richer that way.

    And why do some Mexicans want to turn California into Mexico? After all, it’s Mexico they all want to leave.

    It’s Euro-whites who they follow around.

    Mexican nationals already in the territories (all 75,000 of them!) were granted US citizenship, hence “Hispanics” were all considered White until Nixon created a separate category.

    USA paid Mexico $15 million for land that Mexico had ZERO interest in and that held 1% of Mexico’s population…

    Brown-skinned Mexicans have no legitimate ancestral claim on the southwest US. Their ancestors lived elsewhere.

    The 19th century war between Mexico and the US was an all Euro-white tussle between imperial powers.

    If these illegals make such valuable contributions, then why is Mexico refusing t0 take them back?

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @mtn cur
  23. Wally says:
    @Sam J.

    There is zero chance of a war with China. Zero. It’s all just whiskey talk.

    The US would be sitting ducks anywhere near China and China needs the ocean lanes open for their lifeblood, trade.

    It’s that simple.

  24. Jason Liu says:

    And what good would it do the US to go to war with China?

    Those on the American right essentially make the same mistake as rightists everywhere. They imagine the #1 enemy to be an outsider, a foreign tribe, when their #1 enemy are domestic traitors who look and sound just like them. It is not ISIS/China/Iran/Russia that inflicts social ills like pluralism and equality on the American people.

    America is insulated by two oceans. Any kind of civil invasion (i.e. mass immigration) is mostly caused by Americans, Nice White Ladies and so on.

    • Replies: @another fred
  25. @Sam J.

    Yes but… China is not going to stop US ships going through the South China Sea in a way which would, as you put it, play to American strengths.

  26. @Randal

    I would hope the US would actually try to avoid the kind of scenario you paintbin your last par. And while your argument on cost makes sense I am not sure that it adds up. Distance from the US doesn’t matter. In fact you provide the amswer which would be to have the Koreans do the job with Philippino labour. The islets wouldn’t need many oeople on them and indeed some might be tourist attractions. Fortfied ones could be defended with mines.

    • Replies: @Randal
  27. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    If these illegals make such valuable contributions, then why is Mexico refusing t0 take them back?


    • Replies: @in the middle
  28. mtn cur says:

    The failure of the USA to maintain its borders due to greedy fat cats points to the need to I D and penalize those who profited from hiring illegals. That said, liberals enjoy rewriting the history of the 19th century also, no credit to the fat cats who ruled Mexico and lost the northern half through incompetence and corruption.

    • Replies: @kek
  29. @Anon

    Source?… his wild imagination, what else.

  30. pyrrhus says:

    No, there will be no war with China. Trump is not a lunatic, he is a businessman….Of course, such a war would be disastrous, with China having all the defensive advantages, and would destroy his Presidency.

  31. kek says:
    @mtn cur

    We have an e-verify system in place. As we all know Obama and the political hacks never intended to enforce it’s use. I have a feeling that is all about to change under Trump. Enforce the use of E-Verify and penalize companies for violations and illegals will have no choice but to go back where they came from. If they can’t afford the transportation the Federal government will assist.

    E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.

  32. Bannon’s 5-10 years comment is eerily accurate – that is almost precisely the time left during which the US will retain full-spectrum military superiority over China, including in the SCS.

    Chinese naval power will probably overtake America’s sometime around 2040. However, China has the luxury of being able to concentrate all its naval assets to one ocean, whereas USPACOM has traditionally hosted a third of total US naval assets (though this share is going to increase to 60% by 2020); and of course it has the advantage of the defense, including much shorter supply lines plus its islands essentially functioning as unsinkable aircraft carriers.

    As such, the US will find it considerably more costly to grind out a victory by 2020, and the overall result will start coming into question by 2025-2030.

    • Replies: @Randal
  33. China is following the time honored policy of colonize and claim. These are ‘uninhabited’ islands, reefs, and atolls. They show up, build, then own it. Why should other countries get to claim the oil wealth if they are too cheap to make the same investment, why should our sailors and airman die so that Vietnam can have more oil fields, or Japan keep a claim from their imperial conquests. Let them fight the Chinese. Our Chickenhawks are addicted to sending other people to war.

    I can’t wait for Gen. Jack Keane to bellow that we have to rename the waters the ‘East Asian and South Asian Seas’ just like we renamed the Persian Gulf the ‘Arab’ Gulf. Jack Keane and the Chickenhawks can fight the Chinese.

  34. Anonymous [AKA "SimplePseudonymicHamdle"] says:

    The US interests are :
    1) freedom of navigation by commercial vessels
    2) peaceful resolution of disputes by conflicting parties with interests in the region’s natural resources

    On -1-, there is no actual threat to US Merchant Marine by China


    On -2- , one can see many ways the US could throw it’s leverage around to help motivate China to play nice with its neighbors

    But to go to war over some other country’s legal claim on undersea resources that the US has no claim itself to, isn’t just foolish, it’s criminal.

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  35. @Jason Liu

    And what good would it do the US to go to war with China?

    Under present circumstances, none.

    The problem will come when the credit cycle ends and neither will have economic “growth” to help placate their populations.

    In the US the problem population will be unproductive urban populations who must be weaned off of social programs. In China the problem will be peasants who have migrated to cities for work but who are suddenly without jobs.

    I’m not saying it will be “good” to have war to reduce population, but there will definitely be pressure driving things in that direction.

  36. Randal says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Bannon’s 5-10 years comment is eerily accurate – that is almost precisely the time left during which the US will retain full-spectrum military superiority over China, including in the SCS.

    This is the strategy equivalent of a newspaper columnist reporting that “Clinton is ahead of Trump by 2.25%” based upon a poll with margins of error of 5%. It’s the fallacy of over-precision.

    You, of course, do not have the facts required to make such an assessment as anything other than a guess. That’s not a criticism of you in particular, nobody has those facts because those who know what one side has in terms of secret technologies and deployments are inevitably not privy to more than informed guesses as to what the other side has. And even if they did, nobody knows how effectively many of the most important systems (satellite tracking and anti-satellite weapons, for instance, jamming technologies, stealth systems etc) will actually work in a real war between near peer powers.

    The fact is you do not even know with any confidence whether the US does in fact retain the capacity for full spectrum military superiority over China in the SCS today, let alone in five or ten years time, or how it will change over that timescale. You make guesses based upon guesses.

    There’s nothing wrong with making guesses based upon guesses, expertise and experience – that’s all that is available in strategic affairs. What is wrong is to then come out with an unwarrantedly firm conclusion, particularly when that conclusion might lead people to conclude that not only is it “safe” to fight a war of aggression, but that the window for doing so is closing rapidly.

    There was a time when it was beyond reasonable doubt that the US would win a naval war with China in the SCS, or over Taiwan for that matter. There will most likely be a time, as China grows in power relative to the US, when that is no longer the case and the best that can be said is that the outcome is uncertain. But to claim to be able to assess that date with any confidence to +/- 5 years is simply implausible.

    My own guess, fwiw, is that the time when the US could be very confident of winning such a war passed a decade or so ago, given that the US does not know what technologies China has deployed to locate targets in the meantime, but knows that its ships are vulnerable to missiles now at almost any operational range if they can be located, and the US does not know how many missiles and of what kind China has deployed or could deploy quickly in a confrontation, and the US does not know how effective its own anti-satellite forces will prove in practice, does not know how effectively its air forces and stand off weapons will perform at targeting Chinese systems (far less well than they expect if the Kosovo war is any guide), and does not know how aggressive the Chinese will be prepared to be in targeting US and allied bases in the region.

    This kind of assessment coming from Bannon tends to give the impression that dangerous over-confidence and unwarranted urgency might be prevalent in the US strategic affairs community, of the kind that historically has lead to disastrous miscalculations and disastrous wars.

  37. @Anonymous

    eh, this isn’t about resources but about remaining #1. we stir up the tensions in the SCS so we can “show” china’s SCS neighbors how dangerous china is. so they will ally with us against china. japan is playing along because it wants to use this to finally get back on it’s own feet 70 years after WWII. TPP was an attempt at bribing those countries with money 🙂 also locks them into a trade treaty that supersedes the govts that signs it. all of this relates to the asian pivot. we want to lock china out of the lucrative south east asian market in the near future.

  38. I agree with those who say there will be no shooting US war with China (or Russia) because historically the US only picks on the little guys (yes, despite the Allied propaganda, Germany and Japan were little guys) and even then it doesn’t often come out smelling like a rose.

    Secondly, why bother fighting an actual war when you can get the same benefits from making up threats? War, after all, is the health of the state and nowadays rumors of wars are sufficient to keep the people feeling dependent on the feds.

    It’s an old scam by an old racket.

    “…but you understand the game behind the Curtain too well not to perceive the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the Government.”

    From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 14 March 1794

    The constitution of the US was imposed partly through the use of hyping threats.

    We have been told of phantoms and ideal dangers to lead us into measures which will, in my opinion, be the ruin of our country. If the existence of those dangers cannot be proved, if there be no apprehension of wars, if there be no rumors of wars, it will place the subject in a different light, and plainly evince to the world that there cannot be any reason for adopting measures which we apprehend to be ruinous and destructive.

    William Grayson, 11 June 1788
    Read more: William Grayson: We have been told of Phantoms

    • Replies: @Randal
  39. Randal says:
    @jacques sheete

    I agree with those who say there will be no shooting US war with China (or Russia) because historically the US only picks on the little guys

    You might well be correct (let’s hope so), but there are two reasons for remaining unreassured by your assertion. First, wars don’t always start when the participants intend for them to start. And the risk of such an “unintended” war resulting from a miscalculation is probably greatest in the situation of a genuine strategic rivalry with rapidly changing relative status, such as that between the US and China.

    Second, the worry is that the view expressed by Bannon represents a commonly expressed opinion in senior US military and political circles (the kind of people who use people like Bannon as an media conduit for their – inevitably anonymously sourced – opinions), meaning precisely that part of the US strategic decision-making elite actually does believe that China is still one of the little guys, for the next 5-10 years at least.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  40. denk says:

    ‘During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”’

    Spicer you moron,
    China is the one defending its national interest in SCS, where 90% of its energy /commercial shipping go through.
    murkka has zero cargoes passing thru these sea lanes.

    The unitedsnake’s interest here are three fold,

    To put a choke hold on China’s energy life line.
    In time of hostility, a naval blockade would paralyse Chinese economy and military and force it to surrender.

    To bludgeon ASEAN countries into an anti Chinese outfit under the ‘protection’ of uncle scam.
    Thats the only way washington can perpetuate its dominant position in Asia cuz it simply couldnt compete with China in economic development.

    Last but not least, to advance Exxon’s oil interest in SCS, where it has already been drillig oil for decades around isles claimed by PRC.
    MaY be Rex *Exxon* Tillerson wants SCS all to themselves ?

    In a civic court, if a man claims the ‘right’ to grab at someone’s jugular just in case he doesnt get uppity, he’d be thrown into jail pronto.
    But the Washington mob is an international mafia backed by thousands of nukes’, it could get away with anything.

    ‘No more foreign interventions, unless its to defend our national interest’.

    murkkans have been fooled….again. !
    national interest‘ has been the carte blanche that launched hundres of wars since 1785 !!

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  41. denk says:

    just in case he gets uppity,

  42. What says:
    @godfree roberts

    Your information is wrong. Explain how the Type-052 is superior to the Arleigh Burke class?

    Scan Eagle is an American drone.

    Chinese subs are far from “invisible” and more than a generation behind.

    The ASBMs aren’t advanced. Nobody else employs conventional ballistic missiles for fear of starting a nuclear war.

  43. Thanks for the corrections. When I checked my sources the comparison looked closer than I had imagined, especially between crews (without whom…). Since neither is likely to be used for ramming other vessels, they’re both ‘platforms’, and the Type 52 provides a platform for the The YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile poses a significant threat to the U.S. Navy as well as any other potential adversary.The missile has an effective range of 290 nautical miles, a subsonic cruising speed of roughly Mach 0.8 and then before striking its target it enters a terminal stage of supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3, which makes it extremely hard to intercept. It’s a hefty brute, capable of immobilizing or destroying most vessels in a single strike and it will take the USN some years to develop a defense against it. It is also developing a quality much favored by militaries everywhere: quantity. Building of the first vessel the Kunming DDG-172, was commenced in 2012. Since then, a total of nine vessels have been built and, currently, six are being launched. Their AESA radars and AAW and ASW capabilities are more modern and capable than the Burke class, too. While the Type 52 is designed to operate solo, the Burke has a limited capability when operating alone. It can operate to its full potential only when acting as a part of a larger networked carrier battle group (CBG). The Burke is, however, superior to the 52 in the sheer number of missiles that are carried, though not to their size and sophistication. My original comment was designed to draw attention to the fact that Chinese armaments–even in a core area the US has dominated for generations–are now on par with ours: calling the 52 equal, or even superior, to the Burke will not get the speaker laughed out of the room. That’s very, very rapid progress.

    My apologies, I wrote from memory. The Scan Eagle is, indeed, an American drone. The drone I was thinking of is the Xianglong “Soar Dragon.” Either as a platform for the 400 km. range PL-15 air-to-air missile or as a detection platform for the DF-21D or -26D, it leads its field.

    Chinese subs have regularly spooked carrier battle groups by surfacing in their midst. In 2006 an undetected Song (a fairly primitive vessel) surfaced within firing range of the Kitty Hawk battle group and, more recently, a Song successfully stalked the Reagan carrier group. Critics point out that if a relatively inferior sub like the Song can penetrate a carrier’s screen the more capable Type 636.6 is well ahead of current USN ASW capabilities. (In addition to missiles, Chinese subs are armed with Type 65 wake-homing torpedoes that deliver 1,000 lb. warheads from 30 miles away at 60 mph).

    China’s ‘The ASBMs aren’t advanced’. Come, come. They’re not merely advanced, they’re unique. The DF-21D has a 1,000 mile range and delivers a half a ton warhead vertically at 7,500 mph with 100-300 ft. accuracy (the Nimitz deck is 240 x 1,000 ft., the Burke’s length makes it a target). The U.S. Naval Institute says the DF-21D could destroy an aircraft carrier in one strike and admits there is currently no defense against it. Its big brother, the DF-26D, carries its 3,000 lb. warhead 2,000 miles.

    Again, this comparison involves considerable guesswork about all of the weapons and platforms involved. My point is that we are below, at, or near parity with China within 2,000 miles of her shores. That’s a very big deal.

  44. @Randal

    Of course you are correct. The possibilities do exist that we get into a shooting war because the decision makers in this country are a bunch of sewer heads and the stakes are high, e.g. maintenance of the dollar as the “reserve” currency.

    I should’ve stated the odds which are probably somewhere around 100 to 1 against a true hot war though. That’s because we’re already at war economically and diplomatically with many countries, and the shooting between the big guys will begin if and when all the other tricks fail.

  45. @denk

    To put a choke hold on China’s energy life line.

    I like yer analysis. Although I’m no expert on these matters, it seems clear to me that a lot of the anti-Russia brouhaha is designed to drive a wedge between Russia, with its oil and other resources, and China, with it’s markets and manufacturing abilities.

    To me it smells a lot like the Brit meddling in Europe to “maintain a balance of power” that happened to favor London that eventually led to a huge bloodbath in 2 major phases.

    Keeping the Germans and Japanese from accessing sources of oil was, I believe, a significant factor in the big wars of a century ago.

    • Replies: @denk
  46. denk says:
    @jacques sheete

    The unitedsnake and its ‘allies’ have been making dry run to blockade the Malacca Straits, its going for the dragon’s jugular.
    Inviting Jp, the brutal invader in China during ww2, is like rubbing salt into a gaping wound. !

    ‘In the event of conflict with China, the US “AirSea Battle” concept envisages northern Australia being the base of operations for a naval blockade of these sea lanes, in order to starve the Chinese economy of oil and other natural resources and strangle its international trade. The key Malacca Straits, through which 80 percent of all Chinese sea-borne imports and exports pass, would also be blockaded in joint operations involving the US, Australia, Japan, Singapore and other allied forces.’ [1]

    This must be the ultimate violation of the oh so sacred FON which uncle scam has been bleating 24×7 !

    Dont forget murkka is the only country indicted by the ICC for blatant violation of FON when it planted mines around Nicaragua ports, 1984.

    During the 80’s/90’s the USN made lots of ‘interdictions’ on commercial vessels in international waters, looking for ‘contraband’ cargoes bound for ‘terrorists states’ like Iran etc.
    Those must be fragrant violations of FON alright.
    1993, One of China’s cargo ship the Yinhe was waylaid by the USN on international water, forced to dock at a Saudi port for ‘inspection’.
    Beijing should’ve sued the unitedsnake like what Nicaragua did in 1984.

    True to form,
    USN the high sea pirates now appoints itself the enforcer of FON the SCS !



    • Replies: @denk
  47. Joe Wong says:
    @Simon in London

    Your comment is the typical brain washed from cradle to grave old days British Empire subjects’ uneducated delusional view based on the fallacy that only the White can invent and only the White can succeed.

    If it is a limited war, the American Navy and Air Force will be wiped out within 72 hours as well as all the military bases in Japan and SK by China’s massive missiles bombardments from air, warships, submarines and land. The USA military’s single point failure weapons will all cease to work due to their GPS and internet communications being hacked by Chinese Space Strategy Corp. Besides most of the American weapons rely on parts from other nations, the EU will use this opportunity to get the American off their backs by withholding their parts and let the American being defected by the Chinese like the Argentinian in the Falklands War due to running out foreign supplied parts and weapons.

    In the last 75 years the amount of wars, atrocities and chaos created by the American in the SE Asia make them the most hated people and nation in the SE Asia, everybody can’t wait to help China to put an end to the presence of this do no good psychopath in the SE Asia.

    American initiated aggression war will allow the CCP to rally the Chinese people around it like it did in the war against the Japanese, Korean War and Vietnam War by reminding the Chinese the hundred years of humiliation and suffering as well as the dark age of Unequal Treaties caused by the foreign devil invasions.

    On the other hand, a defeated USA will render Washington totally discredited and weakened that it has no mean to put down the boiling over separatism that has been simmering underneath decades in the USA, the USA will be broken into 7 pieces as projected in some Russian scientists’ hypothesis.

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  48. Joe Wong says:

    A US war plane has been taken down and A US war equipment has been confiscated, so what is the American waiting for? Are you saying the American is all like Donald Trump, big mouth loose cannons?

  49. Joe Wong says:

    China surpassing the USA in the next decade not in a generation or two is a matter of fact, China not only will surpass the USA in GDP, it will surpass the USA in full spectrum. USA’s decline is USA’s own doing or USA’s own incompetence by spending all the money on losing wars.

    American education is third rated and broken, they rely on the immigrants to do the science and technology works. Americans cannot do maths and cannot read manuals that is a known norm. In addition the skyrocketing USA national debt and excessive military spending are handcuffing the USA spending on R&D like the defunct USSR. The USA is walking the same path as the dying days of the Roman Empire and will soon imploded like the USSR.

  50. @Joe Wong

    this is like the chinese version of “wet dreams”

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  51. denk says:

    ‘India is the other country that is central to US war planning in Asia.

    The US, Japan and Australia have each strengthened their military relations with New Delhi since 2011 and encouraged it to assert itself as a regional power. India, on the basis of assertions that it has “national interests” [sic]in the South China Sea, is making regular naval deployments into the area. In June, four Indian warships toured Singapore and Malaysia as part of an “operational” exercise.’

    India has as much ‘national interest’ in SCS as the unitedsnake and Jp
    SCS is China’s economic life line, only China has a national interest there.

    ‘The increasing frequency and sizes of the exercises testifies to the tremendous dangers posed by the provocative US “pivot.” With reckless disregard for the dangers of a nuclear war, the US and its imperialist allies in Australia and Japan, supported by India, are determined to undermine Chinese economic and strategic influence in Asia.’

    India/Jp/murkka, this axis of evil have done much harm to China.
    That they happen to be the most belligerent China baiters today belies their own guilty consciousness perhaps ?
    Fearful of a resurgent China seeking justice ?

  52. Randal says:

    Yes, the US is poking its nose in China’s back yard, and the US not only can it must because it is the global superpower and there can only be one.

    Refreshing as it always is to get to the brute force reality that underlies all the American bullshit about noble causes, you are in serious danger of self-fulfilling prophecy here. And, in truth, it says more about the basic nature of American interaction with the world than about China’s.

    China has an approach to the world that is different from America’s. For all its flaws, it is not a crusading, universalist one like Soviet communism was and US democratism is. There’s every reason to suppose that a globally dominant China will not be as aggressively interfering as the US has been, so long as reasonable deterrent strength is maintained.

    As for “This is the time to pick a[n] argument”, you appear to be rather overly risk-tolerant to those who prefer not to see nuclear powers engaging in military confrontations that risk open war. We survived the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, but it was for sure a very close run thing at times and there’s a good case to be made that only good fortune preserved us. I’m not sure who is worse – you for thinking that you can safely have a “Cold War” with China, or Karlin and Bannon for thinking RAND-style analysis is a safe basis from which to conclude that a limited war can safely be fought and won now and for some confidently predicted window into the near future. But the combination of your thinking and theirs , replicated throughout the US foreign policy elite, might be the end of us all, if a US President falls for it.

  53. Randal says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    A lot depends on whether you are talking about nominally occupied and basically undefended islets intended just to provide legalist claims, or Chinese-style full blown and defensible military outposts.

    The former would be relatively cheap and would serve the purpose of providing improved pretexts for military confrontation, but little else. The Chinese have already made clear they are not interested in rulings by the US-dominated global legal establishment.

    The latter would, I suspect, involve unacceptable costs for the US, however much they try to outsource the work to local contractors. These are truly colossal public works projects. In the end, as with the Ukraine and Russia, control of the SCS will always matter infinitely more to China than it will to America.

  54. Your last sentence is probably the key to ultimate understanding.

    You say “US-dominated global legal establishment” as though that is a fectual description of the reality rather than a Chinese paranoid view. Would you care to elaborate and justify?

  55. Joe Wong says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    So you admit what “Simon in London” spewed is a Western version of “wet dreams?”

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  56. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    U.S. General Seeks ‘a Few Thousand’ More Troops in Afghanistan …

    Feb 9, 2017 – WASHINGTON — The commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, warning that the United States and its NATO allies are facing a “stalemate,” told Congress on Thursday that he needed a few thousand additional troops to more effectively train and ..

    The Afghanistan War started in 2001. Whatever strategic military goal or political objective the US was or is trying to achieve is far from within reach in 2017. The idea that the US can get what it desires from war with Russia or China just sounds absurd to me.

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