Posts tagged ‘East China Sea’


Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters

Taiwan proposed a peace initiative on Tuesday to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea that it says will reduce tensions that have put Beijing at odds with its neighbors and the United States.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou arrives at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, Taiwan, April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The South China Sea Peace Initiative announced by President Ma Ying-jeou called on claimants to temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources.

Ma’s plan is similar to a 2012 proposal for the East China Sea, which allowed Taiwan and Japan to jointly fish in the contested waters.

However it appeared unlikely the plan would be accepted by China, which claims most of the South China Sea and has rebuffed earlier attempts at multilateral negotiations.

“We believe Chinese people on both sides of the Strait have a duty to jointly protect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and safeguard the stability of the South China Sea region,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, when asked about the plan on Tuesday.

China views self-governed Taiwan as a renegade province.

Taiwan has so far played a marginal role in disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed sea.

Ma’s remarks in a keynote speech at an international law conference in Taipei were the most public comments by Taiwan since the United States, its biggest ally, raised concerns over the speed and breadth of China’s land reclamation in the area.

“We demand that freedom of navigation and overflight be respected in the South China Sea,” said Ma, who urged a peaceful resolution “before a major conflict breaks out”.

Taiwan normally maintains a low-key approach to such issues but has coast guard and military facilities in the area, including an airstrip and soon-to-be-completed port on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Abu, the largest natural land mass in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

“I believe the mainland side understands the spirit and principle of our South China Sea peace initiative,” Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin told reporters after Ma’s speech.

The rival claims by Taiwan and China go back to before they split in a civil war in 1949 after the defeated Nationalists fled to the island from the Communists.

via Taiwan offers South China Sea peace plan | Reuters.


Japan, China hold maritime crisis talks in Tokyo – Xinhua |

Japan and China hold the fourth round of talks in Tokyo on maritime crisis management mechanism Monday, with both countries agreeing to launch it as soon as possible once a broad agreement is reached.

The working-level talks, participated by officials from Japan’ s Defense Ministry and the Maritime Self-Defense Force and China’ s Defense Ministry, firstly reaffirmed basic agreements they have made so far.

The two sides also discussed some specifics of the mechanism, including technical problems, and agreed to trigger it as soon as possible after some necessary adjustments based on Monday’s talks, Chinese officials said.

The mechanism of high-level consultations on maritime affairs between the two countries was launched in 2012. After three rounds of successful talks, the talks were suspended after the Japanese government‘s so-called”nationalization”of China’s Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in September 2012.

via Japan, China hold maritime crisis talks in Tokyo – Xinhua |


Summitry: The Chinese order | The Economist

FOR the past week China’s state media have conveyed an almost imperial choreography playing out in the Great Hall of the People, in Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leaders’ compound next to the Forbidden City in Beijing, and at Yanqi Lake just outside the capital. Every day, on television and in newspapers, President Xi Jinping (above, right) is portrayed receiving lines of grateful world leaders. And every day he is seen arranging prosperity, ordering peace or, in an agreement with Barack Obama, America’s president, (above, left) on carbon emissions, even saving the planet. It escaped no visitor that not since Mao Zedong has a Chinese leader conducted foreign affairs with such eye-catching aplomb. Yet this was not only Mr Xi’s moment, but also China’s—a diplomatic coming-out party of sorts.

On several fronts, a country known for a somewhat reactive diplomacy has made the running. China was host this week to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation—APEC, a regional trade gathering that rarely makes waves. Yet in quick succession China declared free-trade agreements with South Korea and Australia, two sizeable Asian economies, all but signed. It announced a breakthrough with America by promising at last to eliminate tariffs on information-technology products. And to the delight of Asian leaders and of Vladimir Putin, president of Russia (reviled in the West but made welcome in Beijing), Mr Xi announced $40 billion in investments to cement a new commercial “Silk Road” that will run overland through Central Asia and Russia eventually to Europe and by sea through South-East Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

Most strikingly, on November 11th Mr Xi urged APEC’s 21 members to move towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). The commitment to “study” the idea over the next two years is in effect to launch it, and for all that an eventual FTAAP is unlikely to be notable for its high standards, the announcement was intended to stand in contrast to the predicament of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, sponsored by America, which remains bogged down in negotiations between America and Japan despite earlier hopes of a breakthrough announcement at APEC.

On security matters, Mr Xi appeared to be making the running, too. There had been a “meeting of minds”, according to Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines, over disputed reefs in the South China Sea. Most striking, though, was an agreement for China to resume high-level contacts with Japan. China has rationed these, and in 2012 began actively challenging Japan’s control of the Senkaku islands (known as the Diaoyu islands to China) in the East China Sea; ties had been frozen entirely since Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine last December. The shrine, honouring Japan’s war dead, has militarist overtones.

Yet on November 7th China and Japan announced a four-point agreement to reduce tensions (see article). The signal agreement was later sealed when Mr Xi met Mr Abe for the first time as president. Admittedly, the withering handshake and puckery expression he offered Mr Abe lent the impression of a dog owner obliged to pick up another pooch’s turd.

That breakthrough was downplayed in state media, perhaps because Chinese ultranationalists might perceive in it a climbdown from China’s hard line over the islands, and towards Japan in general. But given much more prominence was the summit between the Chinese and American presidents, their second full one after that at Sunnylands in California in 2013. Again, there were welcome breakthroughs in co-operation. One was the agreement on information technology, which should now clear the way for a World Trade Organisation pact on IT products. Another was that both sides agreed to find common confidence-building and other measures to help avoid misunderstandings or accidental military confrontations on or above the East China Sea and South China Sea, where the United States shadows China’s increasingly assertive military presence.

But the biggest surprise was the agreement on greenhouse gases. China and America are the two biggest polluters, together accounting for 44% of global carbon emissions. Without their commitment to cut emissions, any global target is meaningless. On November 12th Mr Obama announced a “historic” agreement in which America will cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025, compared with 2005 levels, while China promises its emissions will peak around 2030. It gives a big boost to getting a global deal on carbon emissions at a crucial gathering in Paris next year. For China, a huge guzzler of coal, setting a date for emissions to peak is a first, even though it is five years later than the Americans would have liked. To bring down emissions after 2030, it aims for a big growth in nuclear power and for a fifth of its electricity to come from non-fossil fuels.

via Summitry: The Chinese order | The Economist.


China, Vietnam willing to handle maritime issues through dialogue | Reuters

China and Vietnam have agreed to handle maritime disputes through dialogue, Chinese state media reported on Monday, months after ties between the two countries hit a three-decade low in a row over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters.


The two Communist neighbors must respect each other and focus on long-term interests, President Xi Jinping said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Sino-Vietnamese relations have been advancing continuously since the two nations established diplomatic relations, despite some twists and turns,” he said.

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang said his country was ready to “properly deal with maritime issues through friendly consultation so that the issues will not affect its relations with China”, according to Xinhua.

via China, Vietnam willing to handle maritime issues through dialogue | Reuters.


China Demands that Japan Return the Plundered Honglujing Stele – Businessweek

Islands. Airspace. Antiquities. Until now, China has concentrated its attention on the first two as it fights against Japan for dominance in East Asia. In focusing on the wrongs done by Imperial Japan before and during World War II, China’s government has escalated its claims to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan and has designated airspace in the area as its own.

The Honglujing Stele is housed in Tokyo's Imperial Palace, home to Japan's Emperor Akihito

The dispute has had humorous moments, such as the time officials invoked Voldemort.  The conflict has potential to become far more dangerous, though, with ships and planes from both sides provoking one another. On Tuesday, for instance, Chinese Coast Guard vessels patrolled near the islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.

China’s foreign ministry voiced “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” last week to a white paper published by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government that had expressed concern over China’s behavior in the East China Sea and South China Sea. Over the weekend, China’s defense ministry followed with a statement accusing Japan of looking for excuses to re-militarize.

China has plenty of ways to poke its neighbor. Determined to leave no grievance unaired, China has opened a fresh front in its battle against Japan: A group has  demanded the return of a 1,300-year-old relic that Japanese soldiers whisked away from China’s northeast a century ago.  The Honglujing Stele, three meters wide, 1.8 meters tall, and two meters thick, dates back to the Tang Dynasty and now belongs to Japan’s Emperor, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A group called the China Federation of Demanding Compensation from Japan is now demanding that the Emperor give it back. Stolen items such as the Honglujing Stele “have done great damage to Sino-Japanese ties,” Wang Jinsi, the federation official in charge of recovering cultural relics, told Xinhua. “They should be returned to their rightful owner.”

That may be, but Wang’s group has chosen an interesting time to make its point. As Xinhua points out, Japanese troops went on a rampage in the mainland in the 50 years between China’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War and the end of the Second World War, with Japan stealing some 3.6 million relics. Only now is the Chinese group calling on the imperial family to return one of them.

via China Demands that Japan Return the Plundered Honglujing Stele – Businessweek.


Japan denies brush with Chinese planes, demands China withdraws footage | Reuters

I sincerely hope China and Japan are NOT sleep walking into a major war.

“Japan on Friday denied Beijing’s claims that its Self-Defence Force planes came “dangerously close” to Chinese aircraft in an incident over the East China Sea on Wednesday, demanding China takes down the footage allegedly showing the incident.

A Chinese SU-27 fighter flies over the East China Sea, in this handout photo taken May 24, 2014 and released by the Defense Ministry of Japan May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Defense Ministry of Japan/Handout via Reuters

The tit-for-tat accusations and denials are part of a long-running territorial dispute between Asia’s largest economies. They follow a similar incident on May 24, when Japan said Chinese aircraft came within a few dozen metres of its warplanes. China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime militarism run deep, lays claim to Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. China declared its air defence zone covering most of the East China Sea last year despite protests by Japan and the United States.

On Thursday, China said two Japanese F-15 planes followed a Chinese Tu-154 aircraft and came as close as 30 metres, “seriously affecting China’s flight safety”. It posted a video allegedly showing that incident on the defence ministry website.

“We believe there is no truth in China’s assertions that Japanese fighter planes came within 30 meters of a Chinese plane and severely affected the flight’s safety,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

“The planes (in the video) are different,” he said in response to a reporter’s question about the rationale behind Japan’s assertion, adding Japan lodged a protest late on Thursday and demanded that Beijing take down the footage.

China responded by calling on Tokyo to “immediately stop all its provocative words and acts”.”

via Japan denies brush with Chinese planes, demands China withdraws footage | Reuters.


Does China Care About its International Image? | The Diplomat

China’s global image faces challenges — but if asked to choose between its national interests and preserving its national image, China would choose the former

Does China Care About its International Image?

A recent poll conducted by the BBC World Service shows that China’s international image is not that great around the world. Although this year China’s international image is equally divided (42 percent vs. 42 percent) between those who think China’s influence is positive and those who think it is negative, China’s image in Japan and South Korea (two of China’s most important Asian neighbors) is quite negative. In South Korea, only 32 percent of South Koreans have positive perceptions of China whereas 56 percent of them hold a negative perception of China. In Japan the picture is ugly as only 3 percent (a record low) of Japanese hold positive views of China whereas 73 percent view China as a negative influence in Asia.

However, China’s image in Africa and Latin America is quite positive. All three African countries surveyed have very high levels of positive views of China, with 85 percent in Nigeria, 67 percent in Ghana, and 65 percent in Kenya. Of all four Latin American countries surveyed, only Mexico has more negative views than positive views of China (40 percent vs 33 percent); the other three countries are mostly positive about China (Peru 54 percent vs. 24 percent; Brazil 52 percent vs. 29 percent; Argentina 45 percent vs. 20 percent). Another interesting finding about China’s international image is that most advanced countries hold negative views of China, with the U.K. (49 percent vs. 46 percent) and Australia (47 percent vs. 44 percent) being exceptions. Especially puzzling is Germany, which only has a 10 percent positive view of China against 76 percent negative views of China. This might not be surprising as most advanced countries happen to be democracies and they are often quite critical of China’s lack of democracy and human rights problems.

A natural question that one might ask is “does China care about its international image?” Due to China’s recent assertive actions (here and here) in East China Sea and South China Sea, it might seem like China is not worried about its image among its Asian neighbors. But it is inconsistent with China’s efforts in recent years to enhance its soft power and build a positive national image around the world. Thus, the puzzle is this: if China does care about its international image, why would China behave in a way that hurts its own national image? This is a legitimate question given some evidence showing that many in Asia now see China as a big bully.

There are three possible explanations for the seeming inconsistency between China’s national image campaigns and its recent assertive behavior. First, it could be that China does not genuinely embrace the idea of national image or soft power. According to realist logic which is dominant in China, what really matters in international politics is material power; also, soft power often is a byproduct of material power. Thus, the Chinese leadership might have accepted the idea “it is better to be feared than loved” in international politics. If indeed this is the reasoning behind China’s foreign policy in recent years, then it is not surprising at all that China feels little need to promote its national image.

The second reason could be that China does care about its national image but the problem is that China is inexperienced or even clumsy in promoting its national image. Indeed, in recent years China has put in lots of resources into its ‘public diplomacy’ which has generated mixed results. Just think about how much money Beijing spent on the Beijing Olympics 2008 to promote China’s positive image. It is abundantly clear that Beijing does want to present a positive and peaceful national image to the international community. Nonetheless, it could well be that officials in China who are in charge of promoting national image are incompetent or there is no coordination between different ministries and actors such as the Foreign Affairs ministry and the military. For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finally released a position paper on the 981 oil rig crisis after a month had passed. Although this is helpful, one wonders why China could not have done it earlier. Now the damage is already done. Also, China has maintained that Vietnamese vessels have rammed Chinese vessels more than 1,400 times, but it would be much more convincing if China could release videos showing how the Vietnamese vessels rammed Chinese ships. There are many other examples like this one, suggesting that China’s public diplomacy needs to be more skillful and sophisticated if it is going to win international public opinion.

Finally, China’s neglect of its national image could be explained by a rational choice strategy that puts national interests in front of national image. Thus, China does care about its national image, but it cares more about national sovereignty and territorial integrity. When forced to choose between sovereignty and national image, China will choose sovereignty — and any other country would do the same. As Xi Jinping said earlier this year, China will never sacrifice its core national interests, regardless of the circumstances. Viewed from this perspective, national image becomes secondary compared to territorial integrity.

via Does China Care About its International Image? | The Diplomat.


China gives order to commence war with Japan ‘if it is appropriate to fight’

This translated article seems to confirm the views of a senior US military person –

China has been to war with India, Russia and Vietnam over border/territorial disputes – – Perhaps this will be another such conflict.

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China Daily Mail

PLA officers going to attend NPC meeting PLA officers going to attend NPC meeting

The following is a translation from Chinese media:

Quite a few people have said that the conflict over the Diaoyus (known as Senkakus in Japan) has passed the stage of oral confrontation and what follows may very probably be direct military conflict.

It is especially so as, relying on US support, Japan is obviously declaring war against China already.

Sources say that China’s Central Military Commission has directly given Chinese military the instruction: “Fight if it is appropriate to fight.”

Sources pointed out that they had received information that Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, gave a relevant warning to a Japanese economic and trade delegation that recently visited China.

Xi specially pointed out to the delegation when he met them, if Japan kept provoking China and thus gave rise to an unstable situation, it alone has…

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China training for ‘short, sharp war’, says senior US naval officer –

China has been training for a “short, sharp war” against Japan in the East China Sea, a senior US military officer has claimed, in comments that underline the growing military tensions in the western Pacific.

Disputed territory

Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence for the US Pacific Fleet, said that a large-scale Chinese military exercise conducted in 2013 was designed to prepare forces for an operation to seize disputed islands in the East China Sea, which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu.

“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise – Mission Action 2013,” Capt Fanell said at a navy conference last week in San Diego.

“We concluded that the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has been given the new task of being able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be an expected seizure of the Senkakus,” he added.

Conducting a training exercise is very different from having an actual plan to seize the islands. For years, the Chinese military has staged exercises designed to mimic a possible invasion of Taiwan.

However, the comments about China’s military training plans come at a time of considerable tension surrounding the contested islands. The regular presence of both Chinese and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the region has raised the risk of an accident that could spark a wider confrontation.

In December, China declared an air defence identification zone for the East China Sea, which the US and many other countries in the region interpreted as an attempt to cement its sovereignty claim over the disputed islands.

Although Capt Fanell’s remarks were unusually blunt in their assessment of China’s intentions, they represent a growing tide of anxiety from senior US officials about Beijing’s ambitions in both the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Earlier in February, Danny Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, warned “there are growing concerns that this pattern of behaviour in the South China Sea reflects incremental effort by China to assert control over the area”. He said that China’s recent actions had “created uncertainty, insecurity and instability in the region”.

Capt Fanell said that Chinese maritime training had shifted in character in the second half of 2013 to prepare for “realistic maritime combat” that its navy might encounter. Last year, it conducted nine operations in the western Pacific that were designed to “practise striking naval targets”.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said. When Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights”, this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbours”, Capt Fanell said.

via China training for ‘short, sharp war’, says senior US naval officer –

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East China Sea: What Do China and Japan Really Want?

Very worrying. China and Japan seem to be sleep-walking into military conflict, with the US not awake at all!

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China Daily Mail

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

The diplomatic standoff between China and Japan is drifting in the direction of military conflict.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2014, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an explicit analogy between the current Sino-Japanese rivalry and what had happened between Great Britain and Germany before World War I.

A coming conflict between China and Japan in the East China Sea would seem to be a matter of not if but when, should this kind of vicious provocation continue.

Knowing what China and Japan really want from the East China Sea dispute is the prerequisite for any meaningful efforts in maintaining peace in the region. The U.S. should help China save face, in order to restore the status quo in the East China Sea, and put a stop…

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