Saturday, October 29, 2016

It is probable that China and the US can go to war in the East China Sea because of the China-Japan conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

It is probable that China and the US can go to war in the East China Sea because of the China-Japan conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

Golez: A China-US war is probable in the East China Sea because of the China-Japan conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

The more dangerous hotspot is the East China Sea where China and Japan confront each other with the most modern planes, air defense and anti ship missiles and deadly war ships. In this narrow corridor, there has been an increasing number of fighter jet scramblings numbering more than 800 a year and it is getting hotter and subject to miscalculations.

We are talking of two powerful countries that have a long history of bad blood. Japan's military budget is increasing every year, now at more than $50 billion for next year and much of that dedicated to conflict in the East China Sea. Japan ordered 42 F-35s. While China’s military budget is around three times that, China has to spread out its resources among a big land army, navies spread out in the South China Sea and East China plus some assets in the Indian ocean.

The US has an ironclad defense treaty with Japan and is deploying next year 16 F-35s in Japan. The US has air force, army, navy and marine bases inside Japan. That should be enough deterrence to prevent China from becoming too adventurous, but China's aggressive incursions in the Senkaku/Diaoyu area are getting more frequent.

The Senkaku islands "are included within the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, meaning that a defense of the islands by Japan would require the United States to come to Japan's aid." Therefore if Japan and China go to war, the US will also go to war.

What will prevent that war is if China is deterred by an overwhelming superiority of Japan-US forces in the East China Sea and nearby.

Strategic analysts are accepting a scenario of a deadly conventional war without the use of nuclear weapons for as long as the survival of China's mainland is not at stake. The US outnumbers China's nuclear warheads almost 10 to 1 and that should be enough deterrent for China to be very prudent about the use of nuclear weapons.

Japan is banned by their Constitution from acquiring nuclear weapons, but that can be changed if demanded by their national security. Their defense laws have undergone big changes last year. Japan has no nuclear weapons but it is treated as a nuclear capable power because it has the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons within one year.

To reiterate, a China-US war can be triggered more by the East China Sea conflict and not by the South China Sea conflict because of the superheated tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands.
I posted this in my blog as early as in 2013; the situation has become hotter since then:

From Sarajevo to the Senkakus: The Road to World War III?

Posted: 12/08/2013 1:13 pm

The clash between China and Japan over five small islets in the East China Sea has gone into hyper drive over the last month with China's declaration of a new Air Defense Identification Zone, the immediate defiance of that zone by both Japanese and U.S. military aircraft, and a visit by the American vice president to both countries to try and smooth things over.
As the probability of a military clash continues to increase, the big question is whether such a clash could bubble over into a full-fledged war with major casualties and considerable harm to the global economy. The answer to this pressing question may be found in analyzing five additional questions -- and the conclusion is unsettling.
#1: Are the Islands Worth Fighting Over?
Japan calls them the Senkakus, China the Diaoyus. These five small islets with less than three square miles of territory are located about 120 miles northeast of Taiwan; and the 1986 Law of the Sea Treaty has given them immense economic value.
This United Nations treaty provides for a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone that conveys all resource rights both beneath the sea and underneath the sea bed. While the waters around the islets have been fertile fishing grounds for centuries, the real prize is in potentially huge oil and gas reserves.
Strategically, these islets lay in the middle of an important gateway through which Chinese merchant and military ships must pass through to access the relatively deeper waters of the Pacific Ocean. These islets also fit well into China's broader "string of pearls" forward basing strategy.
Across the East and South China Seas to the western end of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, China is aggressively developing a network of installations; and China has already perfected the art of building useful military garrisons on islets far smaller than the Senkaku/Diaoyus.
Just consider Mischief Reef in the South China Sea. A bullying China took this reef by force from the Philippines in 1994 -- not coincidentally right after the U.S. navy withdrew its forces from the Philippines.
Today, tiny Mischief Reef is now home to a full-fledged military outpost built right on stilts and its radar systems are capable of guiding cruise missiles aimed at Japan or Vietnam -- or American aircraft carriers in the Pacific.
#2: Does China or Japan Have the Stronger Territorial Claim?
China claims it discovered and used the islets centuries before Japan annexed them in 1895; but such historical claims are not generally recognized in modern international case law. China also claims Japan stole the islets and was legally bound to return them as a condition of its WWII surrender. However, the 1943 Cairo Declaration, 1945 Potsdam Declaration, 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, and 1952 Treaty of Taipei never mentioned the islets.
In contrast, Japan meets every criterion of international case law. It annexed the islands as terra nullius -- territory belonging to nobody. Its citizens have conducted business on the islets under Japanese administrative and regulatory control. Japanese ships have regularly patrolled the islands, and it has enjoyed continuous occupation of the islands for more than 100 years.
China's relatively weaker legal hand makes it unlikely it will ever press a claim in the international courts so that route for dispute resolution is a dead end.
#3: Is War Between China and Japan Over the Islands Likely?
War seems almost inevitable given the arc of inexorable escalation that began in 1992 when China broke an unspoken truce by publishing a law specifically declaring the islets sovereign Chinese territory. Since that time, China has progressively escalated its military confrontations; and both its military vessels and heavily armed civilian vessels now regularly patrol the waters of the islands in clear breach of Japanese sovereignty.
The latest escalation: China has declared the islet's air space to be part of it Air Defense Identification Zone. That the United States immediately defied this zone with a B-52 bomber fly-over underscores the situation's seriousness.
#4: Will The United States Be Drawn Into a War With China?
America is committed by treaty to defend Japan in the event of an attack on any territory within its administration. Declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010: "The United States has never taken a position on sovereignty, but we have made it very clear that the [Senkaku] islands are part of our mutual treaty obligations."
Secretary of State Chuck Hagel has reiterated this pledge in 2013; and the clear danger is that some type of incident -- or accident -- may lead to a skirmish that, through a chain reaction, leads to a broader war. Think "Sarajevo" if you doubt this could happen.
#5: What Can Be Done To Stop This Madness?
An "appeasing" Japan could simply turn the islands over to China -- or at least share the resource wealth. However, the growing power of nationalists within Japan makes that a non-starter.
The U.S. could walk away from its commitments to Japan. However, that would mean sailing away from Asia as Japan would surely evict the U.S. military and other countries now housing U.S. installations like South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines would likely quickly follow suit.
That leaves any real solution up to China. Rationally, it makes little sense for it to risk its economic growth over a conflict in the East China Sea. However, China's bullying bid for the Senkaku Islands is part of a much broader strategy. Its modern day Communist Party emperors seek nothing less than to drive the U.S. military out of Asia, gain control of both the East and South China Seas, and assert China's historical hegemony over a new middle kingdom that stretches from the Indian Ocean in the West to the Kurile Islands in the East.
China's military ambitions are well worth remembering the next time you buy a product Made in China -- and thereby help finance the Chinese war machine.
Peter Navarro is a business professor at the University of California-Irvine and director of the film Death By China. A video analysis of this topic may be found on YouTube.

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Lorenzana: US and China will never go to war

 / 06:23 PM October 29, 2016
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/LYN RILLON
FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—Filipinos should not fear getting caught in the middle of a conflict between the United States and China as President Rodrigo Duterte explores new Asian alliances, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said here on Saturday.
The dispute over the West Philippine Sea, notwithstanding, “the US and China will not go to war,” Lorenzana said, because both countries are more inclined to protect their economies which rely on good trade relations.
Such a conflict may result in the use of nuclear weapons which would be too devastating for both sides, he said on the sidelines of the recognition rites for new cadets of the Philippine Military Academy.
“The US and China know that … which is why both countries have been very careful not to make miscalculations,” he said, adding that “a conflict now is farfetched.”
Lorenzana led the recognition rites for 368 members of PMA “Masidlawin” Class of 2020 during the academy’s 118th Foundation Day celebration.

READ: Lorenzana leads recognition rites for PMA class 2020

Addressing the new cadets, Lorenzana advised them to understand the changes taking place in the country today. He said people “must not be carried away by change for the sake of change,” although they must also “not keep to their ways that would stop them from changing with the times.”
He said the PMA, the military and the public must find the proper balance.
“The PMA must go hand-in-hand with the progress of society as it becomes more developed … as it discovers anew its place among the community of nations,” he said. “The academy must also keep pace with the times.”
He said the PMA has been shaped by history, from the creation of the Academia Militar during the Philippine Revolution on Oct. 29, 1898, to the academy that dealt with “the brutal episodes in our nation’s history” and the return of democracy in 1986.
A member of PMA Class of 1973, Lorenzana took part in the recognition rites which required underclassmen to bend as far back as they are able and hold that position until they are pulled up by upperclassmen to signify they now belong to the cadet corps.
Lorenzana pulled up Masidlawin cadets who were related to retired military officers.
Later in a news briefing, Lorenzana said the government needs to study what benefits the military would get from an alliance with China and other countries.
“The President did not instruct us to buy military equipment at once. He told us to study what we need,” he said.
Lorenzana assured the cadets they would graduate and hold military positions in a “well-armed, well-equipped military under the term of Mr. Duterte.”
He said Mr. Duterte was not “too stingy about his support for modernization.” “[To] the class of cadets who will graduate next year … you will have your new jets … you will have more ships,” he said.

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