Monday, June 1, 2015

China's Military Ambitions Part 2

In part one of this posting, I looked at two recent statements from China regarding the role of its military and how its position as a world power will evolve over time.  In this posting, I will take a closer look at how busy China has been in the heavily disputed South China Sea region, located along in the area between mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.  As you will see, China, in particular, has been very busy in the disputed region as have two of its neighbours.  

As a reminder, here is a map showing the disputed region:

The numerous Spratly Islands (an archipelago or island group or island chain) are located more than 1000 kilometres from the Chinese mainland.  The largest of these islands is about 90 acres in size.  These islands have a long history of  in a very strategic location for both military and shipping purposes with the French holding the islands between 1933 and 1939, losing control when Japan took over control during World War II, developing a submarine base in the archipelago.  Japan renounced its claims to the islands in 1951 and mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines all laid claim to some portion of the Spratlys over the following decades.  While that recent history is interesting, according to recent comments by the Chinese ambassador to Australia, China was the first country to discover and develop the islands, dating back to the Han Dynasty in the era between 23AD and 220 AD.  This means that China regards the Spratly Islands as part of its territory and, as shown in the previous posting, will act to protect its sovereign territory through the use of its growing military muscle.

Here is a map that more clearly shows China's claim line:

It is becoming increasingly apparent that numerous previously submerged reefs or coral atolls are being transformed into military installations by China in an effort to solidify its hold on the territory.  Here are two examples:

1.) Johnson South Reef:  new construction appears to show radar towers, gun emplacements and a ten story high building as shown on this satellite photo:

Here are two photos showing what Johnson South Reef looked like on March 13, 2012 and what it looked like on March 11, 2014 after a great effort was put into land reclamation by the Chinese:

2.) Fiery Cross Reef: a new harbour has been dredged that allows quick access to waters greater than 2000 metres deep close to shore making the harbour an ideal location for a submarine base.  As well, it appears that a 3.3 kilometre long runway is under construction on reclaimed land:

One has to wonder why such an out-of-the-way group of barely above sea level pieces of land are causing such an uproar.  Here is a map of the South China Sea showing one key reason why there could be a "future conflict" in the region:

In addition, one-third of the world's liquified natural gas, sourced in the Persian Gulf, passes through the South China Sea as shown on this map:

The recent defense white paper from China shows us that the Chinese military will exert what it views as its birthright to control its nearby offshore regions, particularly because they are of both strategic and economic value.  China's leadership will not sit idly while the American Empire tries to rule from a distance.  China has both the economic muscle and manpower to impose their brand of globalization on this heavily disputed region of the world and the Chinese government is making no secret of their agenda.  This flies in the face of American global hegemony and, if continued to its logical end point, could well lead to a significant military conflict between the United States, its allies in the region and China who all view the South China Sea as either part of their territory or critical to their security.

No comments:

Post a Comment