Beijing is relentless in its pursuit of territory that it feels once was a part of the Middle Kingdom. A lack of coordination in resisting this irredentist activity is having consequences, for ignoring it merely delays – and worsens – the problem.
For example, if the law-abiding nations of the world had taken effective action in the South China Sea when China reemphasized its Nine Dash Line claims some years ago, we would not be faced with the outposts China has established on islets in the area – some replete with landing strips and associated defensive equipment.
While it is building ever more islands in the territory its claims within the South China Sea, China is not ignoring the East China Sea. Just recently, Beijing flew warplanes into both the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the Japanese ADIZ there.
China is escalating its forays into the seas around it, probing for reactions by others in the waters bearing its name. But not all Beijing’s incursions are military. Chinese fishing boats routinely violate South Korea’s waters – one fresh incident requiring Seoul’s coast guard to fire nearly 250 warning shots to move the intruding vessels out of the area.
Beijing has even taken to threatening Taipei with invasion should American warships patrol the area and visit Taiwan in a show of support for that island nation.
In 2014, then-US president Obama stated that Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyus in China) are covered by the US-Japan Security Treaty, thus obligating Washington to ride to Tokyo’s rescue if Beijing makes any move to occupy the rocks by force.
The number of times that Japan scrambled fighters in response to incursions by China’s aircraft tallied 842 in 2016 alone, averaging more than two a day.
Such responses to incursions require a great commitment of time and effort, but present alliances notwithstanding, there is no single strategy or vision among regional players in East Asia on how to properly deal with Beijing’s aggression.
Part of that is due to the way allied alliances have been established. All mutual assistance agreements are bilateral pacts between the US and its regional allies South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Not only does this place an extraordinary burden on Washington, it ignores the need for a collaborative approach to dealing with China.
Regarding the South China Sea, many of the nations in Southeast Asia have quietly acquiesced to China’s claim to the waters within its Nine Dash Line. They simply do not have the military wherewithal to stand up to Beijing. It has not helped that the US, despite its insistence on Freedom of Navigation in all areas of the world, has conducted its own naval and aerial sorties in the disputed areas of the South China Sea only infrequently.
Military alliance needed
A recent article pointed out the need to stand up to Chinese aggression. Now tension is high enough that Tokyo and Beijing are opening a hot-line channel of communication to avoid military action over the islands. But this is merely China giving throat to honeyed words: Apologies will follow incursions that, upon reflection, were clearly intended. Thus, any regret is disingenuous at best.
Weaker nations in the region need to form a military alliance, so that in unity they acquire the means to face down Beijing. Unfortunately, that was tried once before, but to no avail. Modeled after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was intended to fight the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. It failed miserably due to conflicts among its members, and it disintegrated after little more than two decades due to a lack of unity and utility.
Beijing seeks to reclaim its glory days in which the world it knew orbited China, as the name Middle Kingdom implies. China needs to meet its Copernicus in the form of a Defense Coalition of East Asian Nations (DCEAN), necessarily underwritten by American foreign policy and its nuclear umbrella. Something like SEATO but with teeth, it would rely primarily upon the military assets and the political will of the regional member states – backed by Washington’s support if and when needed.
Geographic distance and differing regional and national interests are obstacles that prevent such a coalition from forming. While Europe was able to overcome similar difficulties and differences in establishing NATO, there are conditions unique to Northeast Asia that preclude that from occurring.
To begin, Tokyo has baggage from World War II that has not been permanently shed. Though several previous Japanese administrations have apologized for the country’s brutish behavior during the war, the equivocating and posturing of Tokyo’s current prime minister brings the historical enmity between Japan and its neighbors back to the fore.
Moreover, the new South Korean administration is charting an independent geopolitical course and has pointedly declined to join any military alliance involving Japan and the US even though there is a great need for a collaborative approach in dealing with North Korea as well as China. Unity in the face of Chinese aggression is further complicated by the fact that Seoul and Beijing are drawing closer economically.
Consequently, while South Korea and Japan could effectively work together in the East China Sea to counter China, they will not. The burden therefore falls to Tokyo, which has the will but perhaps not the resources, and Washington, which has the resources but perhaps not the will.
It is just a waste of resources with no clear objectives. Granting that taking possession of uninhabited islets is an act of aggression by China, going to war for these islets is not economically and militarilly viable. What is more plausible is a code of conduct incorporating joint exploration and exploitation of resources. China would just have to be more responsible and respecful of the rule of law and fair play. They will be the no.1 economy in 2030 they say. Asean should take advantage of that. The alternative is war and instability which is stupid.
Does this writer not sit down every once in a while and think over what he has written. China is reclaiming it`s teritories , territories that were taken from in by the European Empires over the past 500 years. Why should they not do that.
Another point until China bombs back to the stoneage, invades and occupies 7 countries in the next ten years like the US has over the past ten years the world is not worried so much about China and is very worried about the actions of the USA.
Have the Westerners ever thought that what seems expansion to them may be China inocculating itself from recurrance of the past (Opium Wars, trade concessions)?
The West should look at its own decline and ponder on its causes. Says so factually the West’s Prophet of Doom Samuel Huntington:
” .. The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do ” — The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 51 …
Confuciuns know too well that those who use violence against others do not last. And if in the most unlikely case China does indeed become violent as the Author alleges, they will end up just like the West – in debt, depression, despair, under replenishment, led by the likes of Trump, May, Merkel, Macron …
A bigger danger China faces is pollution of its culture by ills from the West – pornography, immorality, same sex unions. The West is trying to push it on China through what else, "Democracy and Human Rights" !!!
More pressing, Robert E. Mccopy should write an article on how the world can contain US aggression and bullying around the world. US in the main source of instability, conflicts and chaos around the world.
Your chosen title of your article – Containing China’s aggression – is it even possible? – says it all! Right from the onset your are showing your obvious bias and mindset. Why not also state from the onset that you are an American with sinophobia, that you suffer from a Yellow Peril Syndrome and that you would vote for the return of the Exclusion Act against the Chinese, that you are part of the conspiracy hiding the fact that the United States became rich through its involvement in the Opium wars a la Delano Roosevelt and the Forbes Brothers, and of the Chinese working in the goldfields and building the railroads in the U.S. West. Every time you put the ‘ketchup’ on your food remember the Chinese nourishing your palate. And worse of all you fail to disclose the international agreements signed by the U.S and others after WWII of the return of all lands and islands to China west of Philippines and also all the islands in dispute with Japan like Diaoyu. Be honest with yourself and with the world – look up the United Nations library on all the treaties and settlements made after WWII and you would see clearly that the area within the 9 dash lines are denoted or prescribed in the said treaties of settlements. Why perpetuate a gross lie. The indigenous Indian tribes are correct. Whiteman speak with forked tongue!
What a whole load of rubbish you have written..
The dude who wrote this article is another EXAMPLE of how far the Asian Times has fallen. You want to talk about garbage——–this is garbage and the Asian Times is a disgrace allowing this on there site!
There’s only one situation under which China will not be respectful to the rule of law and fairplay in her own neighborhood, that is when such so-called “rule of law” is being highjacked by someone else with ulterior and hostile intentions. In this region, the rule of law mainly consists of consensus of the countries of this region. It is in China’s own interest to maintain positively harmonious environment in the region and for that purpose China is willing to share development and prosperity with friendly neighbors.
So the passiveness of Asian countries is constraining the good old moral cop USA from protecting them from the vicious Chinese hegemony! This is a bad joke!
" the law-abiding nations of the world", ehh, like who? Is he talking about those Western coutries that killed millions in illegal wars, overthrown democracies, engaged in torture, kidnappings and drone murders, etc, etc?
Spin spin spin. Now the spin is that we Chinese 『can not be stopped』 without yet another multi-national coalition a’la that of one in the 1900’s through WW2, an experience which taught us to say “NEVER AGAIN” to ourselves and to any/all nations who might have designs for us just like the design of the 1900’s when we were caught with our pants down…
Pathetic story.This page must b run by countries jealous of china’s progress,power n zeal.piss off
The writer says that the Japanese were brutish during World war II. Maybe his white supremist view fails to see the inhuman treatment meted out by white colonist to their colinized subjects all over the world for centuries. Writer like him will create more conflicts in a already conflicted world.
Cold War mongering has no place in modern days!
The more hysterical the articles are, the more you understand that its not about a bunch of unihabited islands and the rights of South East Asian countries being abused. Its more about erosion of US military domination over the region.
Hey McCoy I love your neoCon chicken-hawk act..
"It has not helped that the US, despite its insistence on Freedom of Navigation in all areas of the world, has conducted its own naval and aerial sorties in the disputed areas of the South China Sea only infrequently. "
Sure. Let’s start blowing Chinese naval vessels out of the water…
BTW… ever hear of the Monroe Doctrine? For almost 200 years the US has had a policy of keeping overseas interests from planting themselves anywhere in the entire Western hemisphere, the only exception being the Brits in Malvinas. China is mimicking US doctrines, specifically securing crucial naval shipping routes, especially energy-rich supply lines to the Middle East.
High-handed? A bit. But Big Powers get to take those kinds of actions; the US is hardly in position to preach to anyone about "exclusionary zones" and "expansionary" actions. However the Chinese master plan does not envision a US -style colonialist, global power Empire with a 1000 overseas military bases located in 100+ nations.
up yours, you imbecile….
It is only US is allowed to invade other countries ?
Art Laramee g
You can’t stand the truth you hypocrite trash ostrich foul head in the sand, the US has attacked and killed millions of people in the last 20 years under the pretext of democracy. Haven’t you guessed yet what country is the greatest threat to world peace? Here is a poll for your education:
The US is setting precedents for all the rest to copy!
Will there be peace if every nation dies like that? Then Israel should invade all their God given land and take them from Arabs
Sorry Uncle Sam don’t do histroy. Uncle Sam speclailise in jungle laws, slanders, wars, lies, murders, robberies, pornography, homosex, etc
How come can they unify, a group of hyena ?
It is like a group of greedy hyenas hunting their prey in the jungle.
And the non-western world thought the French Revolution would bring equality, liberty and fraternity to the World. Now it is clear that equality, liberty and fraternity is only reserved for the West.
D west won n colonized n bullied because their guns were bigger than others thus China is making sure it as a big or bigger gun to…ever wondered why North Korea will never give up their nuclear arsenal…if they do they would be dead meat
This writer had nothing to do & always make Unscrupulous statement about how bad is china but I wanted to wash your brain with my words that you are too stupid guy on earth.
The writer may want Southeast nations, any nations, to unite and stand up against China. He can carry on breathing till his last breath and it’s not going to happen. Nations everywhere are in fact being drawn closer to China. They know better who the actual aggressor is.
Maybe take away their credit card they use to fund the military adventures, aka the petro dollar.
It’s like everyone is looking for wars these days?
China get out of Philippine territory.
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