Chinese Claim the entire South China Sea as Sovereign Territory.

As noted earlier, there doesn’t seem to be universal agreement on what the “Law of the Sea” (UNCLOS) means. The Washington Post is reporting that Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, has claimed that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea but would continue to allow others to freely navigate the 1.3 million-square-mile waterway.

On July 23 Secretary Clinton crossed the Chinese by suggesting an multilateral approach to resolution of competing claims. Competing claims involve Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. Claims to the Spratley Islands group seem to be particularly contentious. There is an outline of competing claims here. China has used force in the past, seizing the Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1976. Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor in charge of foreign policy, had told Secretary Clinton in May during a tense exchange on the region that China viewed its claims to the sea as a “core national interest.” In addition they seem to have thrown down the gauntlet to the US over exercises in the Yellow Sea.

To complicate matters, the Chinese have a new weapon system, and anti-ship ballistic missile, to enforce their claims, that makes the Navy’s traditional response to Chinese aggressiveness appear much more dangerous.

81 thoughts on “Chinese Claim the entire South China Sea as Sovereign Territory.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chinese Claim the entire South China Sea as Sovereign Territory. - --

  2. This story is still developing. China is again warning the US to “butt out.” Bloomberg reports: “China signaled for the U.S. to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea, three days before President Barack Obama is due to meet with regional leaders concerned over China’s territorial claims in the oil-and gas- rich waters.”

  3. More here:

    and here

    To me it appears that the Chinese , with several disputed claims to sovereignty in the South and East China Seas, has chosen to take on the dispute with the Japanese first. There are a couple of reasons for making this choice.

    –For their own people the Japanese are seen as guilty of horrible crimes against the Chinese during WWII so it is easy to arouse their own population against them.
    –They actually have a stronger case for sovereignty over these islands than over the other disputed islands.
    –They will get some support from Taiwan in that they also disputed Japan’s claim to the islands.

    If the Chinese win this one, it will tend to intimidate other nations that have similar disputes with China.

  4. Outside of the US Navy, the Japanese Navy is probably the best equipped in the Pacific. I was not surprised at the timing, given China’s reactions to Secretary Clinton’s statements in Hanoi a few weeks earlier. I am sure the Chinese side knows the material strength of the Japanese Navy, what China is testing in my eyes is Japan’s resolve and indirectly the US. If China can intimidate Japan, the region’s strategic ally of the US, then it can intimidate other nations in SE Asia and North East Asia.

    In the past 200 years, following the industrial revolution, the world and especially the West has not seen nor known a powerful China. China see the period of colonialism and many defeats as an affront to its past grandeur. Now that it is becoming stronger economically, it likely wants to re-establish its circle of vassal states as there were many during the millenniums leading to Christ and after. Unless I am wrong, China already drew its first and 2nd circles recently. Sure, oil and gas are important to its growth, but having vassal states will be psychologically much more important. By declaring that this and that part of the sea is its core strategic interests, China does not leave any room for negotiation or ground for possible agreement. For countries sharing common land and maritime borders with China, a powerful China is going to means open one’s history books, like Vietnam or Korea, and learn from China’s past conquests. China will always proclaim it has not invaded any one in its history, as all of its past invasions are defined as police actions.

    I do not see much options for Japan nor for ASEAN but to arm themselves, it is going to be a case of peace through strength. As important as the acquisition of submarines, will be each country’s resolve. Japan’s aspirations for one Greater Asia and its actions during WW2 were clearly wrong, they should learn from that but it is also time to leave that behind and get ready. I am sure in coming years, we will see further Chinese fishing trawlers, just like the old Soviet Union trawlers, testing Japan and Vietnam’s navies. In SE Asia, outside of Vietnam, none of the other nation’s forces have been battle tested against China in the 20th century nor before historically.

    How the US will react to future China’s pushes will also be determinant how long peace can be maintained in Asia and the Pacific.

    PS: China’s took the remaining Paracel islands from Vietnam in 1974, not 1976. There was a second naval clash with Vietnam around 1986-1988 around some of the Spratly islands (I am not sure some of these rocks qualify as islands in geology).

  5. The situation is getting serious enough that the Philippine legislature is asking questions about the rules of engagement, should there be an incident between one of their naval vessels, recently sent to the area, and the Chinese.

    Meanwhile the US is pledging to help arm the Philippines.

    Expect more cutters to go to the Philippine Navy. We may also see them with additional weaponry.

    • Gotta love the propaganda writing style of the author of this article. That, and the reference (probably a translation issue) to Vietnamese “Battleships” make this one of the funniest serious stories I’ve read in a long time!

    • The PRC or the ROC. Both have claims in the S. China Sea and both claim to be and are both recognized as China depending on which country. Be specific.

      • True, but I was referencing an article that was not itself explicit, although the implication was clearly that they were talking about PRC. At some level it is at least possible that the fisherman making the report may not have know whether they were PRC or ROC.

  6. Correct me if I’m wrong but dosn’t the Chinese culture tend to promote the long view in terms of thinking, in addition to all the points above, which means that dispite a century of unrest they still remember when they were a super power and that they want it back in addition to the trade issues.

    • I’ve frequently heard the opinion that the Chinese regarded the period of European domination as an anomaly and that they regard Chinese hegemony as the natural state of affairs.

      Certainly not everyone supports the idea that all nations have equal rights, even the US insisted on veto power in the united nations. As Thucydides quoted, “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

  7. Since the discussion brought up trhe ‘long view’ and I can’t help think Sun Tzu, I’ll paraphrase Clauswitz. ‘war is just an extension of politics.’

  8. Note that PF-15 is slated to be the new flagship of the Philippine Navy. That doesn’t give me a ton of confidence about the overall condition of their fleet.

    • How exactly are you an expert on the material condition of HAMILTON? Why should any of us have a ton of confidence in you?

      • That doesn’t necessarily imply Hamilton is in bad shape, but the fact is that it is only one small, at least as delivered, poorly armed ship. The current flag ship is a WWII vintage destroyer escort, so Hamilton is a major upgrade, but they still look very poorly equipped next to China or in fact any of the other Navies belonging to the other countries that are laying claims to the disputed islands.

  9. China’s large flat deck conducted sea trails this week. Commentary is starting up on the implications for regional naval affairs.

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