South China Sea thoughts?

Sandhi Yudha

Well-Known Member
China has recently begun transferring Type 056 (NATO designation Jiangdao) corvettes from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy) to the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG).The move seems to be limited to the inventory of PLAN Type 056 corvettes which lack the variable depth sonar (featured in the Type 056A variant).

According to Chinese navy commissions final two Jiangdao-class corvettes the Jiangdao class comprises 22 Type 056 and 50 Type 056A variants, so even if only 22 from the in total 72 corvettes are to be transferred to the CCG, it will become much more crowded in the Spratly Sea and the rest of the first island chain.

The Type 056 corvettes are quite similar in appearance, size, role and armament with the SIGMA 9113 class, so it would be wise if the other Spratly Sea countries also strengthen their coast guards.

 

Sandhi Yudha

Well-Known Member
Following the successful completion of the appraisal drilling, Harbour Energy, a company from the UK, is seeking to finalise its investment to develop the Tuna Block in 2023 with initial production planned for 2026, according to industry publication Energy Voice.

The island chain was constantly under guard by the Indonesian Navy and Bakamla, which essentially functions as the national coast guard. The drilling activity at two natural gas appraisal wells in the Tuna Block began in June and was completed in late November.

Bakamla chief Vice Adm Aan Kurnia said Indonesian patrol vessels were occasionally found shadowed by Chinese Coast Guard vessels 4-5 nautical miles from the drilling site.

China reportedly disrupted similar drilling projects in Malaysian and Vietnamese waters this year.

And now Indonesia has invited Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam to convene next year as part of the Asean Coast Guard Forum, which met virtually in October.

“We will share experiences on how to respond in the field when we face the same ‘disturbance,’” the BAKAMLA-chief said, without mentioning China by name.

 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
On 12th July 2022 the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo released a statement stating that:

Today we commemorate the 6th anniversary of the Award on the South China Sea Arbitration. More than a historic milestone whose value lies in its commemorative significance, we recall 12 July 2016 as the day that affirmed to the community of nations that the rule of law prevails, and that stability, peace and progress can only be attained when founded on a rules-based legal order on the oceans, as it should be everywhere else.
The Award and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are the twin anchors of the Philippines’ policy and actions on the West Philippine Sea.
The year 2022 is also the 40th anniversary of the adoption of UNCLOS. UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. There is no recourse to general international law on matters comprehensively covered by the UNCLOS. Compliance with UNCLOS, which represents a delicate balance of the rights and obligations of all States Parties, in its entirety is key to ensuring global and regional peace and the fair and sustainable use of the oceans.
The Award, an affirmation of UNCLOS’ dispute resolution mechanisms, not only sets reason and right in the South China Sea, but is an inspiration for how matters should be considered – through reason and right – by states facing similarly challenging circumstances.
It authoritatively ruled that the claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law and is without legal effect.
It upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone.
It affirmed that certain actions within the Philippines’ EEZ violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of international conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes.
These findings are no longer within the reach of denial and rebuttal, and are conclusive as they are indisputable. The Award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories. At the same time, we welcome the support of a growing list of countries for the Award.
The Award benefits the world across the board. We do not see it as directed at any other country, near or far. We see it as it should be seen: as favoring all which are similarly situated by clarifying definitively a legal situation beyond the reach of arms to change. It puts this aspect of international law beyond the limit of prescription.
And so we say once again: the present that we need and the future that we want is a peaceful South China Sea. The Philippines is committed to this for as long as it exists.

Needless to say that didn't go down to well with the CCP in Beijing:

NHK: The Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines said in a statement released yesterday that the award of the South China Sea arbitration is “final” and “indisputable”. What’s China’s comment? China always advocates upholding the authority of the UN and international principles, why then does it reject this ruling?
Wang Wenbin: Besides the statement from the Philippines, I also noted a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the same day, which expressed support for the so-called ruling of the arbitral tribunal. I would like to state that China’s position on the South China Sea arbitration is consistent and clear. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on its position on July 12, 2016. The so-called award of the South China Sea arbitration seriously violates international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is illegal, null and void. China neither accepts nor recognizes it and will never accept any claim or action based on the award. By doing so, we are upholding international rule of law. China’s position has received broad understanding and support from the international community. Those who attempt to infringe on China’s sovereignty, rights and interests by implementing this illegal award will not succeed. China will respond to such attempts in accordance with law.
The US, as a non-regional country, has been ignoring the history and facts of the South China Sea issue and violated and distorted international law. It has broken its public commitment of taking no position on sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, and sought to drive a wedge between regional countries and undermine peace and stability in the region. This is extremely irresponsible. We urge the US to respect China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea, stop stirring up trouble and stop using the South China Sea issue to sow discord between regional countries.
I would also like to say that China and the ASEAN nations are fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and working actively to advance the consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea. It has been agreed by all sides that the South China Sea issue should be handled following the dual-track approach, namely, maritime disputes should be handled properly by countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation and peace and stability should be jointly safeguarded by China and the ASEAN countries.

As usual the CCP/PRC are attempting to bully everyone else and conveniently forget that they are a signatory to and ratified UNCLOS. Much like a toddler; highly selective memory.
 

koxinga

Well-Known Member
As usual the CCP/PRC are attempting to bully everyone else and conveniently forget that they are a signatory to and ratified UNCLOS. Much like a toddler; highly selective memory.
The reason that they behave in this manner is they believe their critics (e.g US, Australia) play the same game (e.g. highly selective memory) and it is par for the course for any "Great Power". Whether this is true or not is secondary, but this is what they have convinced themselves on.

This is also why they are doubly sensitive when people criticise them for it because it appears to them as double standards and hypocritical.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
The reason that they behave in this manner is they believe their critics (e.g US, Australia) play the same game (e.g. highly selective memory) and it is par for the course for any "Great Power". Whether this is true or not is secondary, but this is what they have convinced themselves on.

This is also why they are doubly sensitive when people criticise them for it because it appears to them as double standards and hypocritical.
Nice post

I may suggest the CCP knows exactly what it is doing.
  • The language used is really just verbal international chess.
  • Do they really feel that aggrieved?
  • Did they not expect push back?
  • Do they really want to have a jolly good chat with their maritime neighbors to sort out differences?
An ugly game of pushing the limit that may not be resolved with words.

Their rhetoric mirrors their actions and their actions are alienating the region both near and far.

Again, they know what they are doing and I don't think they are so naive as to not think their would be consequences.

Unfortunately for the sake of peace, they don't seem to care.


Cheers S
 
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koxinga

Well-Known Member
Wolf diplomacy and all that.

I speak the language (Mandarin) and I have always found the press statements by Zhao Lijian, Hua Chunying and Wang Wenbin deeply amusing. (sometimes better than the Chinese dramas that I catch occasionally). Especially Zhao Lijian, he will make this exaggerated expression of indignation before mouthing off the canned statements.

There is a nuance that is lost when the Mandarin statements are translated to English.
 
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STURM

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately for the sake of peace, they don't seem to care.
I have no idea if they care but they have a better understanding of their adversaries than the other way around. Also, unlike the U.S. which has to worry about Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and others places [the burden of being a superpower]; China can focus most of its attention to its backyard. Another plus point is that it doesnt have a long list of allies it's obligated to by treaties.

China understands and accepts that the U.S. is a Asia Pacific player [since the time it took the Philippines from Spain] but sees the U.S. as meddling in affairs that doesn't concern it; the Spratlys and Taiwan; one is to the Chinese an internal matter and the other an issue to be resolved between China and the various claimants. China also sees countries such as Japan, South Korea and others as being nothing more than U.S. lackeys or "running dogs".

With regards to the South Pacific; as pointed out to me by a former diplomat; the U S. and it's allies see China's actions as a threat but the Chinese see all these expressions of concerns as camouflage; an attempt by the U. S. and its lackeys to hedge China in and to prevent China from establishing an presence on an area long dominated by blue eyed countries.

As things stand; the U.S. has to do a much better job if it wants to ensure that various countries in the region don't drift closer to China. Rhetoric by the President, Pentagon and State Department isn't enough. Nor are "freedom of navigation" cruises in the Spratlys, multilateral exercises, expressions of support to U.S. allies, etc.
 
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Ananda

The Bunker Group

This is an Article from one of Singapore Think Tank contributors. Personally I only agree partialy on his assesment on this article. I agree that Indonesia has patching performance conducting it's gray zone strategy against China incursion in it's EEZ. However I don't agree on his assesment entirely on how Indonesia need to change the approach.


In some way it is still working. Being subtle against China but still consistent on the ground of final objectives, seems what most ASEAN members can do right now. Being too agreesive and confrontational must prepared escalating move to back it up. Something that most ASEAN members don't have enough resources to match China drive. Still, being less confrontational in media, like this drilling operation, so far make it still continue but in more subtle ways.

In the end China and ASEAN still Asian. More subtle diplomacy work better, but on the other hand ASEAN (at least the original five) also need to shown China, they are not budging on teritorial dispute.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Part 1 of 2: Giving the correct people their likely actual roles if shooting starts

1. The Indonesian and Singaporean Navies are training at #RIMPAC2022 to enhance Indonesia’s deterrence messaging with the KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) assigned to CTF 176 and under the command of the Sea Combatant Commander (located onboard RSS Intrepid).

2. While RIMPAC 2022 is not directed at China, there are 2 types of deterrence that can affect the PLA(N)’s calculus:

(a) by punishment (after the fact, with VLO fighters & Growlers to conduct SEAD, before the next few waves of anti-ship missiles); or​
(b) by denial (ensuring that the enemy fails to achieve its objective, with active ASW forces and the presence of our own superior submarines forces).​

3. The alternative to deterrence is surrender and that is not a preferred stance for the leader of ASEAN to adopt, over a minor EEZ dispute with China — given the aggressive actions of the Chinese Coast Guard (with the PLA(N) providing overwatch for escalation dominance over the TNI AU and TNI AL).
(a) Indonesia and Singapore do not posses any destroyers. As tier 3 littoral navies with only frigates that are capable of fighting and hiding amongst over a 150 islands, our naval strategy of sea denial against a larger blue water enemy force is remarkably Swedish in approach.​
(b) You are correct that no war is likely or necessary in dispute management of issues related to the South China Sea but Indonesian deterrence messaging must be credible and backed by reflect real capability inherent with current relationships with regional partners that can be tested (when shit hits the fan, should a shooting incident occur).​
(c) If the need arises, I strongly believe that it is in Australian and/or Singaporean interests to stand beside your country in harms way to calm the farm, with the deployment of MPAs with fighter escorts supported by tankers for persistence — before a combined destroyer led ASW task group is assembled within 48 to 72 hours — to be followed thereafter with army/marines boots on the ground to conduct a complex shell game in 150 islands (aka A2AD against the PLA Navy).​

This is an Article from one of Singapore Think Tank contributors. Personally I only agree partialy on his assesment on this article. I agree that Indonesia has patching performance conducting it's gray zone strategy against China incursion in it's EEZ. However I don't agree on his assesment entirely on how Indonesia need to change the approach.


In some way it is still working. Being subtle against China but still consistent on the ground of final objectives, seems what most ASEAN members can do right now. Being too agreesive and confrontational must prepared escalating move to back it up. Something that most ASEAN members don't have enough resources to match China drive. Still, being less confrontational in media, like this drilling operation, so far make it still continue but in more subtle ways.

In the end China and ASEAN still Asian. More subtle diplomacy work better, but on the other hand ASEAN (at least the original five) also need to shown China, they are not budging on teritorial dispute.
4. Well the writer is an Indonesian — but I do see your point, which I do not fully agree with. Let me explore the areas of minor disagreement with an intent to clarify.

5. Like you, I see the need to be respectful but Indonesia needs to draw a ‘red-line’ and the TNI, must inject a man with a gun by showing steel in its determination to defend the country’s sovereignty (working with partners in a consistent fashion to be more credible).
 
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OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Part 2 of 2: Giving the correct people their likely actual roles if shooting starts

6. Commander First Flotilla COL Kwan Hon Chuong (as the Sea Combatant Commander for CTF 176), reports to Rear Adm. Sangmin An of the Korean Navy (who serves as the Commander of CTF 176) — RIMPAC’s amphibious task force. Once the PLA(N) knows that a multi-national task force can be assembled and stay on station for weeks in the South China Sea, the Chinese Navy would not have escalation dominance.

7. To support Indonesia’s deterrence messaging in it’s 150 islands in the zone of conflict, Australian, American or Singaporean forces can conduct shaping operations — as demonstrated at RIMPAC, Ex Wirra Jaya, Ex Garuda Shield, Ex Trident, Ex Safkar Indopura, and Ex Lighting Strike.

8. Indonesia and Australia are increasingly important strategic anchors in the Indo-Pacific region, as recognised by the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). It is also opportune, as President Jokowi has developed Indonesia’s maritime outlook through his Global Maritime Fulcrum doctrine and National Sea Policy. The 2018 Maritime Cooperation Plan of Action provides the broad policy guidelines to implement the joint declaration at leadership level and the new CSP nominates maritime cooperation as one of its key pillars.

10. There is a well quoted saying by Vladimir Lenin that would apply to the Chinese approach to disputes in the South China Sea (as an existential threat to 150 plus island controlled by Indonesia):

'You probe with bayonets: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.'​
 
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Ananda

The Bunker Group
4. Well the writer is an Indonesian — but I do see your point, which I do not fully agree with. Let me explore the areas of minor disagreement with an intent to clarify.

5. Like you, I see the need to be respectful but Indonesia needs to draw a ‘red-line’ and the TNI, must inject a man with a gun by showing steel in its determination to defend the country’s sovereignty (working with partners in a consistent fashion to be more credible).
I believe the difference more on how to convey the message. That's why I said in my post subtlety but with consistent final ground. There's always question and debate whether more subtle approach will give the massage to PRC/CCP. Personally after talking with some collegues specialise in greater China market, I do see subtlety and behind media exposure still workable with PRC.

Final ground or Red Lining still has to be created. However how to communicate on showing your final ground, perhaps can be better gain without more confrontational approach.

The writer put in his article that Indonesian deploy more of their Navy and Coast Guard around the drilling area during the stand off. At same time Chinese Coast Guard also increase the feasibilities with PLAN in the background.

During the time, media exposure increase. At same time the louder the media and pundits talk, the more intense PLAN/Chinese Coast Guard incursions. Then quite a sudden media exposure slowing down, and the incursion intensities slowing down (at least based on Indonesian forums that watch maritime traffic in the area). Then Indonesian (like the media link I put on previous Post) claim the explorations will continues.

I believe during the tone downing period, there're more subtle diplomacies happening. I'm not a fan of Jokowi's administration as my posts in Indonesian thread shown. I do believe his administration decision making process at least in half of ministries is questionable. However I do have to admit Jokowi's choice for Retno as his Foreign Minister is correct so far (just as his choices of Sri Mulyani as MoF). So far I don't see Jokowi giving up on Indonesian possition on North Natuna Sea.

Whether some more Investment projects being given to Japan or MinDef increasing connections to French and US on military projects that do the tricks or perhaps something else, is debeatable. Still at this stage I do see more subtle diplomacy with PRC still work (at least on this stage time), as long as final ground possitioning massage can still shown.

Will there ever time needed for more direct confrontational approach with PRC ? I believe there is, but if that happen means China already crossing more line then what they are doing so far.
 
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