by Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog and originally posted at Asia Times
When the Ronald Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups recently engaged in “operations” in the South China Sea, it did not escape to many a cynic that the US Pacific Fleet was doing its best to turn the infantile Thucydides Trap theory into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The pro forma official spin, via Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of the Nimitz, is that the ops were conducted to “reinforce our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules-based international order, and to our allies and partners”.
Nobody pays attention to these clichés, because the real message was delivered by a CIA operative posing as diplomat, Secretary of State Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo: “The PRC has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region”, in a reference to the Nine-Dash Line. For the State Dept., Beijing deploys nothing but “gangster tactics” in the South China Sea.
Once again, nobody paid attention, because the actual facts on the sea are stark. Anything that moves in the South China Sea – China’s crucial maritime trade artery – is at the mercy of the PLA, which decides if and when to deploy their deadly DF-21D and DF-26 “carrier killer” missiles. There’s absolutely no way the US Pacific Fleet can win a shooting war in the South China Sea.
A crucial Chinese report, unavailable and not referred to by Western media, and translated by Hong Kong-based analyst Thomas Wing Polin, is essential to understand the context.
The report refers to US Growler electronic warplanes rendered totally out of control by electronic jamming devices positioned on islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
According to the report, “after the accident, the United States negotiated with China, demanding that China dismantle the electronic equipment immediately, but it was rejected. These electronic devices are an important part of China’s maritime defense and are not offensive weapons. Therefore, the US military’s request for dismantling is unreasonable.”
It gets better: “On the same day, former commander Scott Swift of the US Pacific Fleet finally acknowledged that the US military had lost the best time to control the South China Sea. He believes that China has deployed a large number of Hongqi 9 air defense missiles, H-6K bombers, and electronic jamming systems on islands and reefs. The defense can be said to be solid. If US fighter jets rush into the South China Sea, they are likely to encounter their ‘Waterloo.’”
The bottom line is that the systems – including electronic jamming – deployed by the PLA on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, covering more than half of the total surface, are considered by Beijing to be part of the national defense system.
I have previously detailed what Admiral Philip Davidson, when he was still a nominee to lead the US Pacific Command (PACOM), told the US Senate. Here are his Top Three conclusions:
1) “China is pursuing advanced capabilities (e.g., hypersonic missiles) which the United States has no current defense against. As China pursues these advanced weapons systems, US forces across the Indo-Pacific will be placed increasingly at risk.”
2) “China is undermining the rules-based international order.”
3) “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”
Implied in all of the above is the “secret” of the Indo-Pacific strategy: at best a containment exercise, as China continues to solidify the Maritime Silk Road linking the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.
Remember the nusantao
The South China Sea is and will continue to be one of the prime geopolitical flashpoints of the young 21st century, where a great deal of the East-West balance of power will be played.
I have addressed this elsewhere in the past in some detail, but a short historical background is once again absolutely essential to understand the current juncture as the South China Sea increasingly looks and feels like a Chinese lake.
Let’s start in 1890, when Alfred Mahan, then president of the US Naval College, wrote the seminal The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Mahan’s central thesis is that the US should go global in search of new markets, and protect these new trade routes through a network of naval bases.
That is the embryo of the US Empire of Bases – which remains in effect.
It was Western – American and European – colonialism that came up with most land borders and maritime borders of states bordering the South China Sea: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam.
We are talking about borders between different colonial possessions – and that implied intractable problems from the start, subsequently inherited by post-colonial nations.
Historically, it had always been a completely different story. The best anthropological studies (Bill Solheim’s, for instance) define the semi-nomadic communities who really traveled and traded across the South China Sea from time immemorial as the Nusantao – an Austronesian compound word for “south island” and “people”.
The Nusantao were not a defined ethnic group. They were a maritime internet. Over centuries, they had many key hubs, from the coastline between central Vietnam and Hong Kong all the way to the Mekong Delta. They were not attached to any “state”. The Western notion of “borders” did not even exist. In the mid-1990s, I had the privilege to encounter some of their descendants in Indonesia and Vietnam.
So it was only by the late 19th century that the Westphalian system managed to freeze the South China Sea inside an immovable framework.
Which brings us to the crucial point of why China is so sensitive about its borders; because they are directly linked to the “century of humiliation” – when internal Chinese corruption and weakness allowed Western “barbarians” to take possession of Chinese land.
A Japanese lake
The Nine Dash Line is an immensely complex problem. It was invented by the eminent Chinese geographer Bai Meichu, a fierce nationalist, in 1936, initially as part of a “Chinese National Humiliation Map” in the form of a “U-shaped line” gobbling up the South China Sea all the way down to James Shoal, which is 1,500 km south of China but only over 100 km off Borneo.
The Nine Dash Line, from the beginning, was promoted by the Chinese government – remember, at the time not yet Communist – as the letter of the law in terms of “historic” Chinese claims over islands in the South China Sea.
One year later, Japan invaded China. Japan had occupied Taiwan way back in 1895. Japan occupied the Philippines in 1942. That meant virtually the entire coastline of the South China Sea being controlled by a single empire for the fist time in history. The South China Sea had become a Japanese lake.
Well, that lasted only until 1945. The Japanese did occupy Woody Island in the Paracels and Itu Aba (today Taiping) in the Spratlys. After the end of WWII and the US nuclear-bombing Japan, the Philippines became independent in 1946 and the Spratlys immediately were declared Filipino territory.
In 1947, all the islands in the South China Sea got Chinese names.
And in December 1947 all the islands were placed under the control of Hainan (itself an island in southern China.) New maps duly followed, but now with Chinese names for the islands (or reefs, or shoals). But there was a huge problem: no one explained the meaning of those dashes (which were originally eleven.)
In June 1947 the Republic of China claimed everything within the line – while proclaiming itself open to negotiate definitive maritime borders with other nations later on. But, for the moment, there were no borders.
And that set the scene for the immensely complicated “strategic ambiguity” of the South China Sea that still lingers on – and allows the State Dept. to accuse Beijing of “gangster tactics”. The culmination of a millennia-old transition from the “maritime internet” of semi-nomadic peoples to the Westphalian system spelled nothing but trouble.
Time for COC
So what about the US notion of “freedom of navigation”?
In imperial terms, “freedom of navigation”, from the West Coast of the US to Asia – through the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean – is strictly an issue of military strategy.
The US Navy simply cannot imagine dealing with maritime exclusion zones – or having to demand an “authorization” every time they need to cross them. In this case the Empire of Bases would lose “access” to its own bases.
This is compounded with trademark Pentagon paranoia, gaming a situation where a “hostile power” – namely China – decides to block global trade. The premise in itself is ludicrous, because the South China Sea is the premier, vital maritime artery for China’s globalized economy.
So there’s no rational justification for a Freedom of Navigation (FON) program. For all practical purposes, these aircraft carriers like the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz showboating on and off in the South China Sea amount to 21st century gunboat diplomacy. And Beijing is not impressed.
As far as the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is concerned, what matters now is to come up with a Code of Conduct (COC) to solve all maritime conflicts between Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and China.
Next year, ASEAN and China celebrate 30 years of strong bilateral relations. There’s a strong possibility they will be upgraded to “comprehensive strategic partner” status.
Because of Covid-19, all players had to postpone negotiations on the second reading of the single draft of COC. Beijing wanted these to be face to face – because the document is ultra-sensitive and for the moment, secret. Yet they finally agreed to negotiate online – via detailed texts.
It will be a hard slog, because as ASEAN made it clear in a virtual summit in late June, everything has to be in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
If they can all agree on a COC by the end of 2020, a final agreement could be approved by ASEAN in mid-2021. Historic does not even begin to describe it – because this negotiation has been going on for no less than two decades.
Not to mention that a COC invalidates any US pretension to secure “freedom of navigation” in an area where navigation is already free.
Yet “freedom” was never the issue. In imperial terminology, “freedom” means that China must obey and keep the South China Sea open to the US Navy. Well, that’s possible, but you gotta behave. That’ll be the day when the US Navy is “denied” the South China Sea. You don’t need to be Mahan to know that’ll mean the imperial end of ruling the seven seas.
Ah, the classic conflicts between what are essentially sea powers (Great Britain, USA, Carthage, Tyre, Japan, Spain and Portugal, Venice and Genoa) and those land powers like Russia and China, Rome and Sparta, Germany and France.
It would be so better for the USA in the long run to return to it’s neutrality, armed and watchful but doing well by all who did well by her. Savings in cuts to military spending from not trying to be World Hegemon alone would immeasurably aid the common people of this nation.
if you understand Chinese I Ching, there are always cyclic changes ie history always repeats itself, every empire will not escape it’s own fate of rising and collapse, after over 600 years of Western dominance the world is now witnessing the turning point of the shift of power to the East, the trend/current is irreversible and beyond human intervention because this is the cosmic law of nature, period.
Interesting that you have a rather deterministic view of natural things with a moniker like ”freedom”, lol, but it’s all good:-).
I’m aware of the natural cycle of things of course, although my Orthodox Christianity allows me to affirm that there will come a point when God will intervene and renew the Creation, a New Heavens and a New Earth. That being said, I’ve had an eclectic political and philosophical education-I’m American, but in my politics I’m close to the ”Tsar and Soviets” idea of Alexander Kazembek and the Mladorossi; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mladorossi
But anyways, yes, the power is shifting Eastwards once more.
It’s a biblical concept that all things have their season – and seasons are cyclic.
And cyclicity does not negate ascension: human progress as cylic but in an ascending spiral – with the inevitable ups and downs and breaks and drops, but there is still overall progress…
Thus according to this notion, or theory, China-West relations have cycled around and again come to head, but hopefully on a higher turn of the spiral, and will therefore not result in a war or “humiliation”, but in cooperation among equals.
This is true also. I’m concerned though and hostile to concepts like Nietzsche’s ”Eternal Return”. But for purposes of analyzing meta-historical and geopolitical patterns, I do hold to a Spenglerian framework in most cases, a ”seasonal” approach to a society’s longevity.
The Washington creatures should focus on what happened to the “sea power” Carthage when it threatened the “land power” Rome.
Also, of course, they should study the Athenian expedition against Syracuse. Not just the military and naval details, but the politics leading up to it. Reading some of the speeches by Athenian firebrands like Alcibiades, it is hard to distinguish them from the fulminations of American political hacks such as Lindsey Graham.
The Athenians were very full of themselves. Believing their city to be the only democracy – or at least the only one that mattered – they assumed that they could “project power” on the far side of the then known world. It did not bother them in the least that the city they chose to attack – Syracuse – was at least democratic as Athens. The underlying motive for the Athenians’ unprovoked massive aggression was pure greed for power and wealth.
Within a few years the result was the utter destruction of the Athenian Empire and the occupation of Athens itself by its arch-enemy Sparta.
The USA has never been truly neutral. USA has been at war with somebody, for all, but seven years, of its existence.
The bitter irony is that on the handful of times when the world really needed the U.S.they were noticeably absent.
Thanks Pepe for the timely article, because just this moment I finished a reply to my Red-Pilled Older Sister seeking to dampen her drama in the form of this email about a fleet of 260 Chinese fishing vessels “invading” the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador:
“why a tweeter said China was looking to invade the Galapagos Islands.. seems like Ecuador is trying to fend off a rather massive fishing fleet.. and seeking international recognition of extended territorial waters…???
“The fleet is in International Waters.
Therefore China is no doubt using this particular far away drama to cement something FAR, FAR more important to them than sharks or fish inside Ecuador’s waters: Similar international conventions regarding their rights IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEAS.
Under the “Hey, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” sort of principle.”
“the fleet is ‘barely’ within international waters.. which is why Ecuador is attempting to expand their own ’territorial’ waters.. they are also bottom dredging the waters around India and Iran with their fishing fleets… and, yes, there are always blinds/double blinds/diversions.. you might look into the protein supply in China, including the submerging of their ‘bread basket’ crops due to massive Yangtze flooding and Three Gorges Dam over flood stage with dozens of cracks showing up in the face of the dam.. the IPOT link I sent out a couple of days ago is backed by a wide array of other media.. including the Israeli Times..
sorta curious… did LaRouche anticipate the CCP co-opting his Silk Road initiative…?? ”
which I just finished answering with:
“Rephrase your question.
You can’t have a New Silk Road OR an old one, obviously, WITHOUT China. Therefore “adopt” is a more accurate verb than the lower vibrational “co-opt”. They of LaRouche’s organization in his late eighties or early nineties and for a few decades before that desired adoption of the general concept..of a World Landbridge …….and got it with One Belt One Road in his last decade of life.
This does not mean that the simple adoption, in and of itself of the World Landbridge could bring instant NIRVANA to the globe…..or that because of adoption of New Silk Road there are no bad people in China, overnight…only angels!
What about the UK? Germany?? USA?? Russia??
Nothing is so simple. Everything is infinitely more complex than White Hat Nation and Black Hat Nation……but a great many people around the globe see the Anglo-Zionist Empire, for which the USA has been the “brawn”, the “muscle” for 75 years…. as being The Blackest Evil of Them All……..with most of such people currently oversimplifying the matter and just fixating their hatred and fear and loathing 90% on the United States, which they imagine, not totally without cause………. to be a complete slave of…………Israel!
Back away from the matter, taking a long and universal perspective AND you find that, in the most general terms you do not have an advancement of Humanity As A Whole with the bulk of humanity in Eastern and Southern and Southwest Asia poor, exploited and lacking in infrastructure and productive capacity.
I refer you to a section of General Douglas MacArthur’s retirement speech from 1951, known as the “Old Soldiers Never Die………They Just Fade Away” speech:
“……………….Beyond pointing out these general truisms, I shall confine my discussion to the general areas of Asia. Before one may objectively assess the situation now existing there, he must comprehend something of Asia’s past and the revolutionary changes which have marked her course up to, the present. Long exploited by the so-called colonial powers, with little opportunity to achieve any degree of social justice, individual dignity or a higher standard life such as guided our own noble administration in the Philippines, the people of Asia found their opportunity in the war just past to throw off the shackles of colonialism and now see the dawn of new opportunity and heretofore unfelt dignity, and the self-respect of political freedom.
Mustering half of the earth’s population, and 60 percent of its natural resources these peoples are rapidly consolidating a new force, both moral and material, with which to raise the living standard and erect adaptations of the design of modern progress to their own distinct cultural environments.
Whether one adheres to the concept of colonization or not, this is the direction of Asian progress and it may not be stopped. It is a corollary to the shift of the world economic frontiers as the whole epicenter of world affairs rotates back toward the area whence it started.
In this situation, it becomes vital that our own country orient its policies in consonance with this basic evolutionary condition rather than pursue a course blind to reality that the colonial era is now past and the Asian peoples covet the right to shape their own free destiny. What they seek now is friendly guidance, understanding and support, not imperious direction, the dignity of equality and not the shame of subjugation.
Their pre-war standard of life, pitifully low, is infinitely lower now in the devastation left in war’s wake. World ideologies play little part in Asian thinking and are little understood.
What the peoples strive for is the opportunity for a little more food in their stomachs, a little better clothing on their backs and a little firmer roof over their heads, and the realization of the normal nationalist urge for political freedom.”
ME Again: Okay, that speech is nearly 70 years old, and much has changed in terms of ideological blocks and so forth.
A more up to date assessment now, by the Silk Road Lady…..LaRouche’s widow, Helga, from this very week, from yesterday’s Daily Briefing Lead: https://larouchepac.com/20200729/reawakening-moral-fitness-survive
New International Economic Order Reawakening the Moral Fitness To Survive
Take the case of the increasingly shrill drive for war against China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leading the way, and now with neo-con nutcases both inside and outside the Trump Administration, and also in Congress, meeting in Washington to blame China for the armed violence on the streets of the United States, and to second Steve Bannon’s dangerous personal threat against Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Bannon said is in the U.S.’s “gun sights.”
Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche yesterday issued a stark warning:
“The confrontation against China is reaching a pre-war, enemy-image mode. This is extremely dangerous, and we have to organize politicians around the world that they really must come out and denounce this. Because this is the kind of course which can only lead to a complete catastrophe. It will not help Trump’s reelection—as a matter of fact, it’s the one thing which will guarantee that the whole thing will end up as a tragedy. So this is not to be pushed aside, not to be blended out for whatever reasons, because this is the kind of talk you don’t have unless you are planning to go for an actual war….
“This is really blood-curdling—I can’t even find the right words to characterize this. This is like blaming the Jews for everything; it’s exactly what the Nazis did before the Holocaust. I really think this is going too far: It is time to take a moral stand that this is not true. It is clearly designed to cause a war, because there is no way, as I’ve said many times, that you can’t ‘contain’ a country of 1.4 billion people unless you want to go for war.”
ME AGAIN: Since in this day and age such a Great Powers Global War runs excessive risk of being Civilization Ending……….. alternative methods of settling things is demanded………not just by REASON…..but also by the concept in the title to yesterday’s LEAD, namely:
The Moral Fitness To Survive.
No man-made project has brought so much untold evils as the Three Gorges Dam. From its inception the western media have launched an endless barrage of smears and dangerous foreboding from slowing the earth’s rotation to causing environmental degradation. And of course, every monsoon season the pressitude warn of an imminent collapse.
I can’t tell whether your tone is sincere or sarcastic.
I was pretty upset when I heard of the planned construction of the dam, and what would be covered forever by the waters backed up behind it.
Has it been a successful project? Or was it a bad idea?
If you read the entirety of the text, the author’s attitude towards the dam is clear. Chinese are big picture people. Go visit the Forbidden City and you will see what I mean.
“The confrontation against China is reaching a pre-war, enemy-image mode. This is extremely dangerous, and we have to organize politicians around the world that they really must come out and denounce this. Because this is the kind of course which can only lead to a complete catastrophe.”
This statement by Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the most sensible I’ve read, politicians and people of any influence need to act, the war mongering statements do not only need to be denounced however, but genuine conciliatory words, thoughts and positive gestures communicated.
Politicians need to get themselves into gear to make the approaches, and people need to call for this, don’t study or read more, but act in whatever way possible – now !!!
China is protected by dragons in the air which have slept for eons in the mountains , These are the the highly advanced omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient spiritual powers of the legendary pre Han powers that industrialised the Middle Kingdom and made advances in technology and the sciences. Today, they have heaven and earth working for humanity; their march from Heliongjiong to the South China Sea is purposeful, dutiful and
absolutely committed to improve the living standards of their people, The have space bombs instead of canon balls, wisdom instead of stupidity, peace instead of war, preserving life instead of killing; they are a formidable force that guard the future civilisation of mankind. They seek no instigations but they will defend with the gifted dragon eyes that can buzz and cuzz and wuzz any unjust squadron, untrained to enter their terrain.They will tell you, You’ve so lost your way and you don’t know this region. Get home and make your country better. Your lives shouldn’t be bartered for and made so cheap its hasn’t got a moral thread in it. The army, navy and soldiers turned back to fight their real battle on the home ground where people were homeless, hungry, ill, unemployed, untrained and subject to brutality and violence. It’s a long way to Heaven-on-Earth, built by the Zhou Mandate of Heaven.
Are you THE Anne Teoh ??
Pepe you are awesome. I witnessed today your exchange with Attuch on the Brasil 247tv. Simply brilliant! Leo is an Alpha male when he feels threatened. RSRSRS
I love to read your articles. I learn so much history. It is a discovery
in an enjoyable way.
It would be so incredible to see you in an you tube of your own.
I am concerned, that Leo will drop your appearances and uses an excuse for not having you returning.
Hope it does continue. We all benefit.
Gratitude, again and again.
Pepe University Distance Learning, South China Sea 101.
Read it and you understand everything you need to know about the South China Sea “crisis”.
You get the geopolitics, military, economic, diplomatic, historic, and legal facts in this “heart of the matter” piece.
The ethnic Chinese are essentially merchants – they want to trade (exports & imports) with the rest of the world
The heart of the matter is that the US has already got China’s maritime coast encircled with the:
1st, 2nd & 3rd Island Chain Strategy.
– First Island Chain (aka also called the “unsinkable aircraft carrier”) extends from the Kuril Islands to Borneo & the northern part of the Philippines. After the USSR was dealt with the chain turned to focus on China. The key link in the chaiin being Taiwan.
– Second Island Chain (of 3 different iterations, the version most commonly used is formed by the Bonin Islands and Volcano Islands of Japan, in addition to the US’s Mariana Islands
– Third Island Chain – the final part of the strategy. Its island chain begins at the Aleutian Islands, and runs thru the central Pacific Ocean to Oceania. incl. the Hawaiian Islands.
A little jamming plus a line of 4000 range missiles will blast off the chains to pieces in a few minutes. And the likes of “Ronald Reagan” will flee for haven
behind the south african port in capetown.
And no way the exceptionalistan will succeed to drag up most of the world countries against the red Dragon. this is like the motto of ”Generals are always trying to fight their latest past war”.
This strategy is doomed to fail in the next few years.
Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of the Nimitz
maybe the us navy needs to rename themselves as star fleet
have we reached in pentagon affairs…………parody?
Beam me up, Scotty!… :-D
He is only captain of the USS Nimitz because the USS Enterprise has been decommissioned.
Whatever the demerits of the US and its Anglo-Zionist Empire, there is no excuse for the nine dash line. Beijing can be, and is, just as imperialist as its enemies.
Let’s look at it all this way:
The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam et al don’t agree with Nine Dash line either.
The Philippines is a country stuck with Stockholm syndrome. It totally adores and kisses the ass of the US, its former colonial master who killed many filipinos. It kowtows to every whim of the US. I have never seen a citizenry so dumbed down with nasty american propaganda. Count out the Philippines. Its brains got stuck in the unwashed ass of the US.
International Maritime Laws state that nations have jurisdiction to twelve nautical miles of their shores. On the one hand China says that it has no desire or ambitions to exert force or invade any country, yet on the other hand it says that borders are a Westphalian creation. China just keeps talking in circles, and perhaps if I have not been subjected to such circular logic by my own American government, I may actually lack the ability to see beyond China’s deceptive, stalling, stealing tactics. Give China an inch and they will take a mile. We see where this is heading. There were no borders before, therefore, it is all rightfully ours, meaning China’s, and George Soros’. China always wants to have it both ways. These are not actually islands, and some of them are man made. People do not live on these Islands. They are basically rocks. The Chinese have aggressively chased fishing boats from other Asian countries out of the region, depriving fishermen of their livlihood, and the people of those nations an adequate foid supply for their populations. China behaves like a tyrant. China has to stop its con-games. China playing the victim is absolutely ridiculous and completely unbelieveable.
Obviously Chinese win-win strategy means that what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine too for China!
Yep just like Rumsfeld when he stated that everything on earth was there for our use regardless of where or who owned it ,and I see now others are trying to blame China for saying the islands off of China’s shore are their own,I wonder who owns all those islands that we claim a few thousand miles off shore,don’t do as I do but do as I say seems to be our motto….
Oh, by the way, The Great Wall of China must have strictly been a landscaping project for asthetic reasons since borders were a Westphalian creation.
Wow .. the Westphalian system is generally traced back to the Peace of Westphalia and the principles of sovereign states were inculcated. So, the Peace of Westphalia after the 30 year war is historically set as 1648.
The last of the Great Wall of China was repaired and completed during the Ming Dynasty and this historically was during 1368–1644. So the 2000 years of building the Great Wall of China was way before any Westphalian system and geographically the 30 years war was in Central Europe. The Great Wall was built over more than 2,000 years, so to connect the Westphalian System with the Great Wall of China (and I am certainly no expert) would be a massive historical stretch if I just look at the dates.
If one looks at the professional polisci type commentary, it is well know that China is more Westphalian than the original Westphalians. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23039640?seq=1
The purported ‘rules based international order’ is then literally an attempt to overthrow the Westphalian system. But connecting the Peace of Westphalia and the 2000 year construction of the Great Wall of China? That is a stretch of the imagination both in historical timespan as well as in geography.
Great find! Yes, Tao was also very rules based. The legalists during the 100 schools period were also very law and order based. Many citiies in China had fortified walls surrounding them as well. The 433BC-222BC wariring states period also shows that there were conflicts over the direction of, as well as the geographic borders of China. It was a long held Chinese belief that China would expand from the North to the South and all people would live under the same ideology and system. Big fish would eat little fish, until there was only one fish left.
And even though communism has had thousands of year of history in China, the ruling elite had drastically different standards of living that the villagers living in their feudal systems. Royalty owned slaves and passed them down from generation to generation with some families designated as slaves that lasted for hundreds of years. Royalty at that time was not just a few families, but many extremely wealthy arts and leisure bourgeois class with basically a mandate to be above the law, which is what the current American government is trying to convince us that they are, without any legal precedent, and one of absolute illegality in fact. The Chinese communist system like the USSR communist system were not systems of equality at all, more systems of mandated and designated inequality in which the ruling class had a totally different set of rules and quality of life over the prolletariat. Very similar to the cast system in India.
I think your concepts on China are old. I gave you some links to look at and would truly suggest that you take a look. I don’t think you know how people in China live in our modern times. So, please consult the links.
Then the big fish rots in the head and dies. And everything starts over. This is where the US is going. China will do the same. Man belongs to the biosphere. The main characteristic of the biosphere; that thin layer of life that covers the earth, is that everything eats one another and continues to grow and expand. Life is the only phenomena in the universe we can prove that defy’s the second law of thermodynamics; it doesn’t run down. Nations run down.
Funny thing about countries is that the bigger they get the more they bully the smaller countries around them.
You would think the Chinese live in the neighborhood, what with all their protests. The Chinese should go back to where they came from while the US makes the South China Sea safe for .. . uh …
The USA gets a hair up its a— because an Iranian supermarket opens up for business in Venezuela. I.e., in “our” hemisphere. No Iranian supermarkets allowed!!
Man the barricades and ban the pistachios.
So I think China has a similar right to get a hair up its a– with the Nimitz, Reagan et al. fleet cruising around its’ backyard.
Remember the Opium War!
Pepe in top flight form: “The US Navy simply cannot imagine dealing with maritime exclusion zones – or having to demand authorization every time they need to cross them. In this case the Empire of Bases would lose access to its own bases…. that’ll mean the imperial end of ruling the seven seas.”
Lootenant Pinkerton and the rest of Teddy Roosevelt’s White Fleet are about to enter the pages of History, to join some other famous Maritime Empires: the Athenian Empire, the Dutch Empire, and the British Empire. As Pepe has been telling us for some time, this is the EurAsian Century. A return to trade along the axis of that great land mass, with ancillary maritime trade to the continents of Africa, America and Australia. As it was before Vasco da Gama and Columbus shifted maritime development to the West Coast of Europe.
The fear of the West is that China will behave in the same way that the West has behaved globally in the last 300 years.
This is a genuine fear and needs to be addressed.
For all practical purposes, these aircraft carriers like the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz showboating on and off in the South China Sea amount to 21st century gunboat diplomacy. And Beijing is not impressed.”
To a Pindo, the second sentence in the quote is what is utterly beyond comprehension. Like: ‘I am a member of an Exceptionable, Indispensable Nation. Who the # % @ § could possibly refuse my demands for everything in exchange for some constitution-this-amendment-that?!?’
The idea of “Thycidid Trap” is a concept to be used with caution.
We should remember that he was the general who needed to justify his dispositions during those campaigns.
Also, upper class Athenians and fat cat startups were profoundly anti-democratic. They often took refuge in Lakaedeomonia (Sparta) when they got ostracized (banished from Athens. Aristotle and others maintained that the Spartans were the polity in Greece that had the “most perfect” constitution.
Sparta was a friendship city of Jerusalem and Delfy and cept their monetary wealth in those places. Athens had its silver coinage at home.
The Sino-US sprawl: Isn’t it a little different.
On the other hand, nowadays, maritime sovreignity is super-disturbed by Norway in the eighties insisting that the power of littoral states be extended far more than before. Såarta was “Spartan” only in allowong only copper coinage- They sent their gold and silver to be kept at the oracle in Delphi and amonst the money-changers before the temple in in Jerusalem.
My native Norway bears a lot of the blame for the current mishaps that have grounded and run The Law of the Sea situation ashore. By establishing wide economic zones that covered both the waters and the riches below the oceans. And by believing they had tricked the Soviets into accepting the “Sector Principle” in the Arctic Ocean”, they obfuscated the kinds of issues covering the South China Sea.
Escobar refers to “A crucial Chinese report, unavailable and not referred to by Western media, and translated by Hong Kong-based analyst Thomas Wing Polin” but provides no link to it nor any other way for us to see it; so, why are we supposed to believe Escobar’s article, which seems to be based upon that alleged ‘report’? I have searched to find such a ‘report’, but thus far have not been able to find any such. Of course, if Escobar isn’t just scamming his readers here, then he will reply here by providing not only key quotations from it, which support his thesis here, but details that will enable us to find the document ourselves. (Otherwise than that, however, this article by Escobars is just tedious; but if he can put us on to actual information which supports his argument, then it will have been informative to its readers, though verbosely written.)
Pepe’s article may be tedious to you, perhaps because you are well informed of all these details, but to the rest of us it is informative and very interesting.
But I agree he should have provided more refs about the report he quotes from, as this info would be a major development indeed…
This seems to be the source Pepe is reporting:
Here is an English source that debunks the report: https://www.techarp.com/internet/us-navy-chinese-jamming/
However, in 2017, there was jamming by the Chinese of some sort.
Admiral Scott Swift retired in 2018, so the incident referred to had to be earlier.
Probably, an incident occurred in 2017, that report was picked up by some Chinese recently, but made it seem as though an incident occurred recently.
Here’s the CNBC report of installation of EW systems:
And here is one of the earliest reports on EW jamming by the Chinese (2015):
You should take a step back from your arbitrary allegations. Escobar’s article was first published at Asia Times with hyperlinks. It’s not Escobar’s fault that the links are not included here.
Here are links at Counterpunch to some articles by Thomas Wing Polin; perhaps one of them is the referenced one:
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
May 25, 2020 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
The South China Sea: Beyond the Smoke ‘n Mirrors
May 4, 2020 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong’s Enemy Within
September 2, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong’s Crisis as Microcosm of the World’s Future
July 31, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong: New Epicenter of the Empire’s Smear Campaign Against China?
July 10, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
June 18, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Empire Unravelling: Will Huawei Become Washington’s Suez?
March 13, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
For the Sake of Peace, It’s Time for the West to Understand China on Its Own Terms
March 1, 2019 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
US v. China: In Washington, Hyper-Hawks Center Stage
March 26, 2018 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
January 15, 2018 by Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Sorry the links didn’t copy, but here is the page:
Escobar’s article is not tedious.
MOD: Nasty comment deleted.
“gobbling up the South China Sea all the way down to James Shoal, which is 1,500 km south of China but only over 100 km off Borneo.” Just a cursory look at the South China See map will show that one doesn’t have to be pro American to immediately recognize that the Chinese claims do reminisce of “gangster tactics”. By trying to justify unreasonable claims are we not supporting the new imperial power? How about the rights of other littoral states?
If China was indeed using gangster tactics in the South China Seas there will be no doubt that islands and waters would be within China’s territory instead of “disputed”. No, gangster tactic is western colonialism and the history of America’s founding. In fact, from the mouth of America’s chief diplomat, “we lied, we cheated, we stole.” What western leaders and media have hyped into egregious bullying is standard negotiation strategy: start with a high anchor. China came late to the game with western powers already surrounding China with military bases in client states. It is in the midst of negotiating with ASEAN states the South China Seas Code of Conduct so instead of hyperventilating about the yellow peril, take a deep breath for heaven’s sake.
IMO China has the moral right and duty to do whatever it takes to defend itself against Western colonials of whatever stripe or “self-justified” what whatever new self-serving notion.
The bestialitiy and greed with which the British East India Company and then the British Empire set out bringing to its knees and this ancient nation and cultural entity, China, leaves Western powers with zero standing to manhandle China again in any way, shape, or form.
China actually succeeded in absorbing and blending with many of its conquerors—those who respected the CHinese cultural achievement.
The “civilized” British were truly gangsters and proto-Taliban:
In 1860, under Lord Elgin of Elgin Marbles fame, they destroyed an incomparable monument to Chinese history and art, painstakingly assembled into the extraordinary “art garden ” called Yuanming Yuan. It was 80 square miles of nonstop beauty where the most exquisite products of Chinese artistry and artisanship produced over a 4000-year history had been gathered together into a kind of super-curated cultural landscape.
Looted and razed and smashed and burned over a period of some days and weeks (Similar to the cultural destruction that took place in Baghdad in March 2003.)
No retribution is swingeing enough to redress the international cultural crime committed here. It really beggars what the Nazis did in WW2.
The Chinese should demand that every artwork stolen from Yuanming Yuan now residing in Western public and private collections such as the British Museum be returned to China.
“It really beggars what the Nazis did in WW2.”
Here I am referring specifically to the Third Reich’s systematc looting of art all across Europe.
This ‘Opium War’ debate has come up many times on this site, so I’m surprised to be deleted. Anyway, the evil foreigner narrative is, in my view, mostly a national myth. Much like Kunta Kinte in ‘Roots’ who in real life would have been sold by his own chief for trinkets, is according to the story, netted on a beach by evil white men.
How did a dozen Scottish smugglers (hardly the ‘British Empire’) distribute opium throughout Imperial China? It is obviously easier to blame outsiders than to accept the guilt and betrayal of one’s own people.
Hajduk says: “How did a dozen Scottish smugglers (hardly the ‘British Empire’) distribute opium throughout Imperial China?”
— It wasn’t just a dozen Scottish smugglers – they were back by the British navy, the strongest one in the entire planet.
Hajduk says: “It is obviously easier to blame outsiders than to accept the guilt and betrayal of one’s own people.”
— Really? So it was Chinese faults that British sailed halfway around the earth to bomb China, to invade her cities, and to force her door open for opium? It was Chinese guilt and betrayal when British ignored Chinese imperial orders to ban opium?
The opium trade in China was a Mandarin cartel, in partnership with Scottish shippers. The British government later used their disagreements as a pretext for intervention, but they had no direct role in what was always a private enterprise.
‘..British ignored Chinese imperial orders to ban opium…’
The opposite is true; China ignored British offers to end the trade (in order to protect food production in Northern India).
I know you are grovelling for a CBE from the British Empire that is on its way to its much-deserved Perdition.
What you have placed here is History according to the genocidal and avaricious British empire.
Whenever history is presented in these Manichean ‘black and white’ terms, it is invariably oversimplified and false.
On this issue, sixty percent of the British elite were in favour of killing, robbing and enslaving any people they came across who were unable to resist. Forty percent of the British elite strongly opposed the opium trade as an abomination that was an affront to Christian decency.
In the Chinese Empire, sixty percent of the elite were corrupt, self-serving criminals who thought nothing of distributing addictive drugs throughout the population. Forty percent of the Chinese elite belived this to be an affront to Confucian decency, and a criminal takeover of their nation by a gang of traitors and foreign devils.
One side is typical of a militaristic empire in the ascendency, and the other of a mercantile empire in the very last stages of decline. When a Chinese philosopher visited London in the eighteenth century he described a city of chimneys, factories and forges where almost everyone wore a military looking uniform of some kind.
Not really the same country as today, but of course that doesn’t matter if your views are based on a mixture of myth and half-baked ideology.
I’ve been wondering recently whether Moscow is entirely comfortable with its Chinese partners. Of course, the most immediate danger to Russia is from the Empire. However, even Andrei Martyanov concedes that Russian and Chinese interest do not necessarily align. if war breaks out between Delhi and Beijing, where will Moscow stand?
Meanwhile, an intriguing article on S-400 deliveries to the People’s Republic.
Indian media is western globalist. Cannot trust.
Pepe is obviously paid to push China interests. Thsts fine. Every country should stand for its peoples interests, as Putin seeks to do for Russia.
Lets be clear, the world hss changed from before colonial initistives destroyed all cultures and economics. Russia was sparsely populated then, US wss not in existence, Europe was poor and backward. The concentration of people was from eastern Mediterranean to China, an economic and social ecosystem centred on Indian ocean.
That’s why Europe was trying to find a route to India.
Land silk roads were not viable vehicles of trade. Production was local, globally. Just for historical context.
“Land silk roads were not viable vehicles of trade. Production was local, globally. Just for historical context.”
I doni’t think that is quite true.
Tamim Ansary has a very nice, readable book that describes the actual trade links between the Mediterranean and the Eastern world—far older and stronger than most Westerners suppose. He is an Afghani writer who lives in the USA now. Quite prolific. This particular book is The World of Yesterday. He includes a lot of historical maps, which makes it all more interesting. It is very conversational–no notes.
Sorry, the title of Ansary’s book is
The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection.
He has some interesting approaches.
Worth a read for the look back but also for the way he follows the thread into the future.
Why would “war” break out between India and China?
Of all the “wars” possible or probable, this one is the least likely.
India vs China war fought where? In the steep mountainsides of the Himalayas?
A naval battle in the Indian Ocean (China would lose that fast).
A naval battle in the South China Sea (India would lose that fast).
Where would this war happen?
Just because they have shared borders does not mean that either could sustain an invasion of the other.
Or just an exchange of nuclear missiles?
There are reasons why the recent conflict in the disputed zone was fought without bullets. Sticks and stones on icy slopes led to the deaths.
Neither nation has an interest in war against the other.
India is concerned with nuclear-armed Pakistan.
China is concerned with India supporting US destabilization proxies used against Tibet and Xinjiang.
Always, the long history of cultural crisscrossing between the two ancient civilizations ameliorates the troubles that arise between them.
Modi has diverted India’s friendship as he tries to play a geo-strategy. Maybe he wants to be another Japan. A useful idiot for the US to manipulate.
But even that strategy is flawed. He needs Japan for investments since he decided not to take Chinese investments and build a modern infrastructure. So, India can only be a Japan, Jr.
And when things heat up, who does the India military and Intel services turn to? Not the US. They rely on Russia.
So, Russia will never allow a war for any reason to break out between China and India. It’s just not a viable possibility, no matter how much Modi flirts with his stupid notions of power and prestige.
First, Modi needs to toilet train half a billion citizens. Second, he needs half a billion toilets, a sewage system and sewage treatment plants, not a war. His trains move at 20 mph, people sitting on the roofs of cars with people hanging on the outside of the cars. China moves people at 250 mph on high speed rail systems.
India, even if it was in a brief war, could kiss most of the rest of the 21st Century goodbye. They’d probably lose planes quite rapidly to the S-400 defense systems of China. His military would turn on him swiftly in such a case.
Towards the end of this century, India and China will fight for hegemony, and China will be destroyed (along with most of the Indian subcontinent). Its not about ‘toilet training’ or whose weapon is biggest, but rather it is about other factors that Westerners generally struggle to understand, and the Chinese too since they have dutifully copied much.
…of our foolishness.’
(Apologies, half a sentence is missing from the preceding comment :-)
A rather ill-considered reply, since sacred history is mostly guesswork. Anyway, there is no certainty at all that conflict will ever break out between these two great civilisations, and I pray that it never does. The point is that one should not underestimate India.
This is so obvious but Pompus Minimus, the Valedictorian of his West Point Class, is unable to comprehend what is right in front of him. The Peter Principal rules. They will never learn.
Yeah, Pepe is on top form but the understanding of the Law of the Sea is perhaps more difficult without actually studying the thing a bit. We have an expert that writes for the Saker Blog and perhaps we will get some comments from there.
First, the Unclos documents, treaties and agreements are incredibly complex. There are issues of continental shelves and bays and estuaries and many more, like atols, reefs, islands, unclaimed islands, submerged rocks etc.,
Here is an overview.
Background to UNCLOS
The law of the sea developed from the struggle between coastal states, who sought to expand their control over marine areas adjacent to their coastlines. By the end of the 18th century, it was understood that states had sovereignty over their territorial sea. The maximum breadth of the territorial sea was generally considered to be three miles – the distance that a shore-based cannon could reach and that a coastal state could therefore control.
After the Second World War, the international community requested that the United Nations International law Commission consider codifying the existing laws relating to the oceans. The commission began working towards this in 1949 and prepared four draft conventions, which were adopted at the first UN Conference on the Law of the Sea:
The First United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I) from February 24 until April 29, 1958. UNCLOS I adopted the four conventions, which are commonly known as the 1958 Geneva Conventions:
The Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone;
The Convention on the High Seas;
The Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the
High Seas; and
The Convention on the Continental Shelf.
While considered to be a step forward, the conventions did not establish a maximum breadth of the territorial sea.
The Second United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS II) from March 17 until April 26, 1960. UNCLOS II did not result in any international agreements. The conference once again failed to fix a uniform breadth for the territorial or establish consensus on sovereign fishing rights.
The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) from 1973 to 1982. UNCLOS III addressed the issues bought up at the previous conferences. Over 160 nations participated in the 9-year convention, which finally came into force on November 14, 1994, 21 years after the first meeting of UNCLOS III and one year after ratification by the sixtieth state. The first sixty ratifications were almost all developing states.
A major feature of the convention included the definition of maritime zones- the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, the high sea, the international sea-bed area and archipelagic waters. The convention also made provision for the passage of ships, protection of the marine environment, freedom of scientific research, and exploitation of resources.
And here is the treaty. Even just scrolling across the index, you will immediately see that this is a complex law that took many many years (from 1958) to accomplish. And the issue of the Chinese dash line is not a one sentence proclamation. It is complex. Quite rightly they rejected the court case with the Philipines if I remember correctly from a court that had no jurisdiction. That problem though is now sorted out. I read this stuff and for some or other reason I followed the development of Unclos for many years and I laugh as well, because for example, look at Article 88 ..
Reservation of the high seas for peaceful purposes
The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.
Portuguese version at
„Geo-Politics: The Core of Crisis and Chaos and the Nightmares of the US Power Elite“ https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/geo-politics-the-core-of-crisis-and-chaos-the-nightmares-of-the-us-power-elite/
„One Thing Must be Clear to the World: The US Power Elite Regards the Whole Globe as Their Colony!“: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/one-thing-must-be-clear-to-the-world-the-us-power-elite-regards-the-whole-globe-as-their-colony/
As Escobar pointed out in the article, the first manifesto of China’s claim to the 11-dashed line was made in 1936. Google Bai Meichu and you’ll see the background info. But China’s view of these tiny islands, atolls, and reefs being Chinese territories dates over 250+ years in Chinese literature and regional documents, as Chenghe’s travelogue had identified some of them. They were no-man’s-land, and they were extensively used by Chinese fishermen as anchor points for millennium as they alone had the ships capable of such oceanic distances.
Then in 1946/47, after KMT took control of China, An admiral named Liu sailed the SCS on a cruiser named Taiping, given to China by USA and was accompanied by an American admiral to boot, and named each significant island and atoll. He named the largest of these Taiping Island after the cruiser, a name used and still under Taiwan’s control, by ROC to date. There were absolutely no dispute from anyone then, nor in the 50’s and 60’s, West or East. National maps issued by sovereign entities in the region all conceded these to ROC and none included even the tinniest reef as their own, except South Vietnam in the early 70’s. North Vietnam at that time disputed South Vietnam’s claim and confirmed PRC’s claim in an official document.
After Vietnam unified, and when the west switched to a China Containment strategy, things changed. Due to lack of naval power China couldn’t stop Vietnam, Malaysia, et al from occupying some atolls in the region with the west assisting/abetting. Western goal was to instigate hostility between China and its neighbors, using ASEAN as cannon fodders-after all, any casualties would be AESAN or Chinese. ASEAN saw this as an opportunity to expand their territories, especially when carbon deposits were confirmed under SCS. One began to see mountains of PR material in Western MSM condemning China’s imperial aspiration, etc. etc. Kangaroo court was staged to fake legal disputes against China’s legitimate claim. China haters all over the world are fed narratives to demonize China on this issue. This is the current status quo of affair.
But the tide is turning. China is now indisputably the premier sea power in the region. Even if Uncle Sam deploys its whole naval fire power into SCS it stands to lose the war badly, because it has to face the reality of supply logistics, and its military bases around China won’t last a day of battle. China now has the luxury of demanding a peaceful settlement of the issue, or else. The ‘or else’ option, of course, has always been and will always be, the final option in human disputes. Man is an animal, and thus laws of the jungle is always relevant.
Some of you China haters would doubtlessly demand that I provide links and pdf articles to prove my point. Sorry folk, you have to do your own homework if you are interested enough to dig out the truth. I myself don’t give a damn how others view this issue. This posting is just to supplement the synopsis that Pepe Escobar has provided here.
All of the islands, atolls, etc. in the SCS should collectively be named the Yuanming Yuan Collection of Chinese Strategic Treasures.
Each one should then be named for a Chinese art object now held captive in a Western art collection or gallery.
The 9 dash lines started as 11 dashes until China removed 2 of them to cede Gulf of Tonkin to fellow communist brother Vietnam in 1957. The southern most dashes are located some 2000km away from China’s shoreline to envelope the oil-rich Spratlys, and as close as 100km from Malaysia and Philippines.
When China ratified Unclos in 1996, it recognised that all signatory states have a 200 nautical miles exclusive zone from their shorelines awarded under the treaty. And since the 9 dash lines overlap with Malaysia’s & Phillipines’ exclusive zones, it “gave away” the 9 dash lines, and in return, was awarded its own 200 nautical miles exclusive zone.
China ratified Unclos in 1996 in its quest to become a member of World Trade Organisation which it ascended to in 2001. Now, two decades later, an economically & military powrful China acts as if it doesn’t recognise the treaty anymore.
law of the sea seems the sticking point. ratified signatories do not come from the nation making the loudest objections.
Nusantao is very much a fringe theory as the Austronesian urheimat is almost universally held to have been Taiwan. Anyway their diaspora took place in prehistory, so they have no direct connection to later South China Sea traders who were mainly the ancestors of the present day Hakka and Hoklo minorities (the Ryukyu Islanders were also very wide ranging traders).
As for the Nine Dash Line…so what? The PRC can easily make deals with all its neighbours for these disputed shoals (although making a deal with Vietnam would certainly be a challenge). If the Falklands Islands are British then why can’t the Paracel Islands be Chinese?
Is there a risk of the US, always false-flag happy, with “creating” an incident that would lead to a sort of compartmentalized open warfare?
False-flags are meant to establish excuses for Uncle Sam to actually send troops and fight the intended enemy. But at this stage of geopolitical evolution Uncle Sam has become too chicken to fight a dragon size enemy such as China, especially not in a region prone to saturation fire sweeps by that enemy. So, Uncle Sam false-flagging it’s own military/commercial facilities is close to zilch. False-flagging so-called ‘ally’s’ facilities requires that ‘ally’ to have the means and guts to go at it against China. Name that ‘ally’ and you can continue your plot of a dream to complete a fantasy.
But then again, there is always the foolhardy Hindu warriors in this neighborhood. You just might see the day of your script coming into reality:).
There is broad agreement across the American spectrum – from President Trump to Bernie Sanders – that US manufacturing jobs lost to China must be returned to the home-soil. That would mean job losses in China and pressure to open its market to American imports. There is a clash of vital interests. History shows when those interests collide the result is war: in this case – the two greatest economies on the planet – it will be world war.
“that US manufacturing jobs lost to China must be returned to the home-soil.”
You are echoing one of the Donald’s inaugural promises. Now after 4 years, has it happened? NO! Have you ever asked yourself why? It is because of american greed. In the first place, why did these manufacturing jobs leave the shores of the US? Again it was american greed. If you are an american, then blame yourselves!
In his concluding part, Pepe points to China‘s decisive relationship with its neighbors, namely the ASEAN states, for the resolve of the SCS dispute. To me, it appears most natural to seek an agreement with these states.
It is worthwhile to learn what Kishore Mahbubani, the imminent longterm diplomat and academic from Singapore, tells his readers in his latest book Has China Won? The chinese Challenge to American Primacy. (Public Affairs, 2020, p. 80). He discusses the belief widely held in the US, that Xi Jinping reneged on his promise not to militarize the SCS. This accusation goes back to Xi’s visit to the White House in September 2015 and is taken ever since as a token of China’s aggressive and expansionist stance.
Drawing on explanations given by China expert and American ambassador to China from 1991 to 1995, Stapleton Roy, Mahbubani explains:
„In a joint press conference with President Obama on September 25, 2015, Xi Jinping had proposed a more reasonable approach on the South China Sea. Xi had supported full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by China and all ten ASEAN members; had called for early conclusion of the China-ASEAN consultations on a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea; and had added that China had no intention (M.‘s emphasis) of militarizing the Spratlys, where it had engaged in massive reclamation work on the reefs and shoals it occupied. Roy said that Obama missed an opportunity to capitalize on this reasonable proposal. Instead, the US Navy stepped up its naval patrols. China responded by proceeding with militarization.
In short, Xi did not renege on a promise. His offer was effectively spurned by the US Navy.“