Thursday, June 17, 2010

US Navy Comander Blasts Chinese

When, on the other hand, I look at the rest of the world I am obliged to say: They were simply asleep while this miracle was taking place. Even today they refuse to grasp it. They do not realize what we are, nor do they realize what they themselves are. They go on like a figure of 'Justice' - with blindfolded eyes. They reject what does not suit them.

A US navy commander interviewed in a Japanese newspaper took a few shots at the increasingly (and needlessly) aggressive posture of the Chinese:
Repeated Chinese navy helicopter flights close to Japan's Self-Defense Force ships in the East China Sea and the Western Pacific in April were neither professional nor responsible, says the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Patrick Walsh. [blogged on a few weeks ago - MT]


Walsh expressed concern about China's increasingly aggressive behavior in the South China Sea.

He pointed out that in 2009 alone, China detained 433 Vietnamese fishermen who were working in waters where the territorial claims of both countries overlap.

He also said that China recently started describing the South China Sea as its "core interest." It is a term that China uses to explain its positions vis-a-vis Taiwan and Tibet.

"This is an issue that has us very, very concerned because, on principle, the interference with freedom of navigation in international water is a core interest for those who use the global commons," Walsh said.

"At the same time, this economic 'carotid artery' that runs through the South China Sea ... they are willing to put at risk over rocks, reefs and disputed claims."

While the United States has been trying to maintain a mature relationship with China in the economic sphere, he said, "the military representation of the People's Republic of China is one where we just lag any kind of mature relationship, and it's just fraught with the potential for misunderstanding."


In reaction to China's disturbing behavior in the South China Sea, several littoral states such as Vietnam and Singapore are now purchasing submarines "as a way of protecting sovereign rights," Walsh said.
In an interview with a Japanese paper, Walsh blasts the Chinese Navy. If you were Japanese and seeking reassurance, you just might feel you got some.

The US navy has been a consistent supporter of bettering its relationship with China. Is this a sea change? Or just one man's opinion?

Walsh mentioned later in the piece that he has been visiting countries in the waters around China and they are all interested in closer cooperation with the US.

Of note in this is Walsh's statement that China is now using the term "core interest" to refer to its expansion into the South China Sea, the same one it uses to define its attempt to annex Taiwan and its annexation of Tibet. Those of you wont to say that Taiwan is "the last piece of the puzzle" have been comprehensively proven wrong by China's desire for Arunachal Pradesh, the Senkakus, and now this. China just made "the puzzle" bigger by thousands of islands.

Observe also the progressive upgrading of claims. Just as the claim to Taiwan has fostered a claim to the Senkaku Islands, and the annexation of Tibet has led to the claim to Arunachal Pradesh, so what started as claims to some islands in the South China Sea has just become a "core interest." It's not going to stop until there's an armed confrontation somewhere.

UPDATE: See Thomas' excellent comment below.

Meanwhile, back within the Beltway, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein (D-China) claimed that US arms sales to Taiwan were hurting ties with China. She also said:
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein told Gates that Chinese leaders had offered to reposition at least some of their military forces opposite Taiwan. An aide said she was referring to an offer that was made in the past and was no longer on the table.[UPDATE: "redeploy the missiles" appears to be confusion based on a misquote]
Feinstein's husband Richard Blum is a major investor in China. Not by coincidence, Feinstein has argued for closer connections to China. One of Blum's old business partners is Peter Kwok, who is involved with the current sale of the Nanshan unit in Taiwan. Have fun with searches on Google and see what else those names uncover.

Yes, that's right. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is married to a man who has extensive business interests in China. Brrrr.....
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1 comment:

Thomas said...

This is actually one issue that US talking heads should catch onto. By making such statements, the US can gain much goodwill in every country in Asia that borders on the South China Sea except China. Of course, the Chinese won't like such declarations, but they are hardly likely to go to war with the US over this issue anytime in the near or mid term because such a war could easily engender an anti-China alliance including China's largest trading partner as well as some of its fastest growing ones.

Additionally, by putting its foot down forcefully over this issue, Washington might be able to prevent some excessive adventurism. As you imply, the Chinese will keep widening their reach until they reach a roadblock.

This is precisely the angle Washington needs to be taking to gain influence over the Chinese, not stupid grandstanding over currency. The problem with the Chinese leadership is that they are operating under the assumption that they have a rising star that can never fall. They always fear, of course, that it might fall, but recent events have made them believe that this is less likely. Reintroduce some doubt to their calculations, by, say, pushing for the formation of an association of navies to maintain freedom of the seas in Asia and peaceful resolution to border disputes, and you might see a different posture out of Beijing.

In fact, this would be a wonderful topic for Obama to broach if he ever does make it to Indonesia. Will it happen? I won't hold my breath.