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South China Sea thoughts?

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by SpartanSG, Jul 14, 2012.

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  1. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The irony of that statement, is that the PRC (and ROC to a degree) is reasserting claims made and seems to be seeking the balance of influence China had at various points under imperial rule.

    It is nowhere near the point of modern Italy laying claim to most of Western Europe, North Africa, the Balkans, Asia Minor, or areas containing modern Syria, Lebanon and Israel, but that should illustrate my point.

    At various points in Chinese history, Imperial China was arguably the most powerful nation in the world, with influence and control which spanned a vast area for the time. For a variety of reasons, that balance of power (both in absolute and comparative degrees) has waned. My take as an outsider is that the PRC is seeking to regain some of that comparative power, having observed other nations (which did not even exist when China was at it's height) which had gained power and now hold it. Further (and again, this is my take on things only), it seems as though some of the areas which had once been under the control and/or influence of China have a degree of 'cultural memory' which is causing them to be less than eager for China to regain some of that influence.

    If one looks at two of the current Great Powers, which in the past had vastly greater territory and comparative power, namely the UK/British Empire, and Russia/Soviet Union/Tsarist Russia, one can see two very different attitudes held by many of the nations which had made the respective powers. I tend to think the attitude of former subject-nations towards China/the PRC has more similarities with the attitude towards Russia than that of the UK. With that in mind, and with the belief that should the PRC claims be recognized it would be at the expense of rival SCS claimants, I can see how a number of ASEAN member would be concerned.

    For nations/powers outside of the region like the US the SCS is still a vitally important maritime area simply due to the volume of global trade (~40% IIRC) which passes through it, as well as the direct impact on the economies and resulting imports/exports of major trading partners like S. Korea and Japan. Should the PRC be able to control the SCS, it would have the potential ability to extract a 'toll' from trade to/from S. Korea and/or Japan, or force shipping bound for those countries to be re-routed further east through the Philippine Sea, taking a longer route and likely increasing expenses due to more fuel being required and delaying deliveries and pickups of imports and exports.
     
  2. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    indeed but over time, when China was weak and not united; outside powers took advantage of this and China was unable to do anything about it. This is ingrained in their national psyche. Just like how Russia/Soviet Union traditionally has overly been paranoid about foreign invasions [several times during the Cold War, Soviet leaders were convinced that a NATO strike was imminent]; the Chinese want to avoid being seen as weak and want to be acknowledged as a global power.

    There has been much talk over the years about the Chinese funding the building of a canal through the Kra peninsular in Thailand. That would benefit not only China but others as well as they would be able to avoided the congested Straits of Melaka. On paper, Chinese ships that have transited the canal would be able to off load their cargo in Hainan but of course that cargo would still have to be transported inland to other parts of China and China would still [like others] rely heavily on the South China Sea.

    Personally, despite what it's done so far; I doubt China really wants to 'control' the South China Sea per se. What it wants is to strengthen its claims there [its military presence in the area is also intended to send a political message], be acknowledged as the new power in the area, drive a wedge between the U.S. and various countries, force the various countries there to accept China's dominant position and the need to deal with China rather than look to the U.S. and of course; have the ability to militarily 'control' or 'dominate' the area should the need arise. The only thing presently standing in its way is the U.S; not world opinion, the UN, ASEAN or any of the other [5] claimants in the dispute.

    China will also adopt a wait and see attitude; whether the U.S. in the coming years will change its policy or even down scale its military presence Asia. If we look at post 1949 Chinese history; China eventually gets its way with the U.S. It got the U.S. to officially recognise communist China [the 'One China' policy] over Taiwan, it achieved its objectives in Korea [albeit with Soviet help/support and at great cost in human lives], it became a U.S. 'friend' during the 1980's [a major coup over arch rival India] and it got the U.S. to recognise or be silent about China's claim on Tibet [at one point the U.S. was supporting Tibetan resistance groups] and Xinjiang/Turkerstan.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  3. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Perhaps if there was a way to separate out the first, from the other three, there is room for some sort of compromise here. And given the melting ice caps, and increased Russian efforts at establishing the Arctic as a shipping lane, China could have a reasonable alternative to the southern route. Maybe this could be coupled with some sort of international arrangement at keeping the SCS de-militarized, or something else of the sort.
     
  4. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Unless/until the PRC gains control of Taiwan, the SLOC to mainland China will have to pass through either the South China Sea, or the East China Sea. Given the nations which could potentially oppose the PRC in the East China Sea (and whom the PRC also has territorial claims disputes with), I do not see the PRC as considering an Arctic or Northwest Passage route as a viable alternative to SLOC through the SCS. Particularly since much of the energy and natural resources which mainland China has come to depend on is sourced from Australia, the Mideast or Africa.
     
  5. weaponwh

    weaponwh Member

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    part is true, part I don't agree with, china like any other country has its own national interest, with increasing economy, they are bound to expand globally. also throughout history of china, all its dynasty fall through internal corruption or domestic issues, so china are interest more about its domestic then outside invasion. No one want to be seen as weak, and want to be acknowledged. Their most immediate interest lie in Taiwan unification, and that's more for their domestic audience.
     
  6. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    Of course it does. Nobody here is saying otherwise and nobody is saying China does not have the right to expand or to carry out policies in line with its national interests. The question is how big of an impact will China's actions have, not only on countries [smaller/weaker ones - which pose no threat to China] but also to the world at large.

    It was 'internal corruption or domestic issues', amongst other things, that led to outside powers [whether via 'outside invasion' or other means] meddling into China's affairs and establishing themselves in China, for their own selfish interests. Things have changed however and as Kaplan points out, China's land borders are secure, for the first time in centuries, enabling China's leaders to focus on other areas.

    Is it really 'more for their domestic audience'? You sure? To a certain extent, domestic politics plays a part but just like with Tibet and Xinjiang [Tukerstan]; there are strategic reasons why China wants or claims Taiwan and why it's willing to go to war over Taiwan...
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  7. weaponwh

    weaponwh Member

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    ok I misspoken when I said 'more for their domestic audience', part of reason is for domestic audience, of course there are also strategic concern and other interest involve in Taiwan. But most Chinese growing up belief Taiwan is part of China, if Taiwan separate from mainland, it will be a big hit on CCP legitimacy, something CCP can't ignore.

    China land border are secured, but china still fear about internal unrest, either due to corruption/environment , unrest in Tibet/Xinjian province or economy. While most Chinese are happy these days as long as economy are growing, but there is a reason china has largest police/paramilitary and spend a lot $$ for internal security than other countries. especially after Xi become life time president.

    as for china interest in ScS, its more of wait and see, right now, they only build island on reef under their control since 70s-80s, thats not aggressive as Russia annex crimea or Ukraine issue. Vietnam has more island/reef under its control than any nations in the area. Would China forcibly occupy those reef/island in the future, don't know. All I know china hasn't had a war or invade anybody since late 80s.
     
  8. STURM

    STURM Well-Known Member

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    China has nothing to gain by resorting to military means; too much of a backlash and there would also be economic effects. It would lose more than it gains. If however China was backed into a corner; either via actions [whether perceived or real] undertaken by the other claimants or by the U.S, it would use force.

    We all know that. We all also know that China has used military force in the past when its interests were threatened or when it felt that military force would lead to the desired results, i.e. the intervention in Korea [1950], the clash in the Paracels [1974], the clash in the Johnson South Reef area with Vietnam [1988] and the border clash with Vietnam [1979]. Of course one can point out that the U.S. has a much bigger track record of invading countries or initiating military action but the discussion's on China.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  9. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    It appears that the company that owns Subic Bay port has gone belly up defaulting on US$400 million in loans to Philippine banks. The bankruptcy was sudden and unexpected and opens opportunity for the Chinese to gain control of a strategic asset.

    China eyes a strategic port in the Philippines
     
  10. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    If the USN is agile enough and the Philippine government allows, a reincarnation of Subic Bay naval base could be considered as a strategic deterrent to Chinese influence in the SCS
     
  11. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    But Duterte is reasonably anti US and whilst he remains in power that will remain a difficult proposition. He's not as rabid as some others, but he likes to be a loud card carrying member of the club.

    EDIT:
    If a ANZUK grouping were to fund or acquire the port, that might be completely different kettle of fish in Duterte's eye's though.

    It would give UK a centrally located Indo Pacific naval base.

    It would enable Australia and NZ to extend defence and economic diplomacy to the Philippines without any strings attached.
    Interesting idea to chuck about.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
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  12. buffy9

    buffy9 Member

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    ANZUK already have access to bases in Singapore and Malaysia under the Five Powers Defence Treaty (FPDT). In any scenario access would be granted. I'm pretty sure it's a FOB for Aussie subs anyway, though I can't find any articles on it at the moment.

    Additionally America is still an ally of ANZUK and would likely grant us access to their base in Guam, as might Japan in Okinawa.

    If we could convince the Philippines that we are not just "another America" then I suppose it could work. I don't so a good reason though.
     
  13. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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    I dony think Singapore will be to happy in fear of losing influence if we start pushing more service and trade their way
     
  14. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Why should it? It's not going to impact negatively on them is it? We are not talking a major Indo Pacific transshipment hub are we? We are talking about an ANZUKPI naval base alongside a Philippine commercial coastal port. If anything it may bring some stability to the area, which will be to Singapore's advantage.
     
  15. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    The two naval ports with greatest influence in the SCS are Danang and Subic, both within a few hours of the contested islands and that’s simply my point.
    Duterte May have issues with the US but I’m sure he has few issues with shiploads of cash and that will determine influence be it Chinese or US money.
    Any thought of the RN sustaining a presence there is denying their new reality.
     
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  16. MrConservative

    MrConservative Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It is a Korean company Hanjin that has failed at Subic so they maybe part of the 'rescue' equation though don't forget the Japanese who will also not at all be happy with defacto PRC control via a Chinese company there.

    The Japanese-Philippine relationship has been quite strong with in recent years with donations of military equipment from the Japanese government.

    OZ, UK & NZ governments wont be backing this with their own money (that is not going to fly) and private equity interests from the same countries are not going to invest in a money losing shipbuilding sector that they don't have any experience in nor understand, in a country which is culturally and politically different. Manufacturing, agriculture, shopping malls and hotels in Manila maybe but not a place like Subic Bay.

    If there is to be a liberal democracy aligned 'rescue' at Subic to keep in strategically on side, then this is more likely to be a Japanese, Korean and to a lesser degree Singaporean solution with US "blessing". In fact I would go so far to say that the Japanese are the ones who have the right mix of political clout in the region, sector experience, fiscal leverage and geo-political motivation to counter a Chinese corporate viz PRC involvement.
     
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  17. Ocean1Curse

    Ocean1Curse Member

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    I mean Chinese officials stir the nationalistic pot by proposing a base in Vanuatu which is denounced passionately by Vanuatu's neighbours, and now a proposal for an ANZUK base in or near the South China Sea will likewise raise the price of peace. Now I'm not claiming that an ANZUK base in the Philippians doesn't have its advantages, I'm claiming it will block immigration and trade through slightly different tariffs or premiums on Chinese movements making 1.4 billion Chinese uncomfortable and raising the price of peace and de-legitimise any claim to a military base.

    Peace is cheap right now, perhaps a multilateral bail-out, no-interest-loan or near-zero-percent-loan should be cheaper than raising and sustaining a naval base? A bail out of the Philippians port will also prevent immigrants from migrating out of the Philippians. So closing ranks with the Philippines and giving a conditional grant, conditional on the Philippines standing on its own with an ANZUK alliance or who ever backing them if need be. And perhaps we strengthen our hand for any basing options.
     
  18. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    If that's the case, would the South Koreans work with the Japanese on this, given the Korean enmity towards the Japanese? The Japanese may have to undertake this without Korean cooperation of any kind, which would not surprise me.
     
  19. MrConservative

    MrConservative Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Not likely to be a Japanese - South Korean Joint corporate venture, but not impossible if a 3rd country partner like the Singa's or the Yanks get involved. The Singaporean Keppel Group do have a neighbouring yard there and may look to expand. There is a 3rd dry dock operator in Subic bay the local firm SDC.

    One other possibility is with the coming merger (really a takeover) of DSME and HHI, which is greatly encouraged by Seoul and the bankruptcy of Hanjin a restructuring package including a debt-equity swap arrangement underpinned by Seoul could see the Subic Bay site come under the HHI umbrella.
     
  20. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    It's possible that the fisheries in the South China Sea could be due to collapse soon. They account for 12% of the worlds fish catch and the loss of this fishery would be devastating for those peoples and communities dependant upon the fishery. Once this fishery collapses it will drive the PRC fishing fleet and others further afield. Chinese fishing practices appear to be to take giant clams, everything.

    Looming collapse of fisheries in the South China Sea?
     
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