US – China Relations

Date: August 10, 2018
By Brad Lendon, Ivan Watson and Ben Westcott, CNN

Above the South China Sea (CNN)High above one of the most hotly contested regions in the world, CNN was given a rare look Friday at the Chinese government’s rapidly expanding militarization of the South China Sea

Aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, CNN got a view from 16,500 feet of low-lying coral reefs turned into garrisons with five-story buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.

During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory and urging them to leave.

“Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.

The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.

On Subi Reef, the Poseidon’s sensors picked up 86 vessels, including Chinese coast guard ships, moored in a giant lagoon, while on Fiery Cross Reef rows of hangers stood alongside a lengthy runway.
“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.    [FULL  STORY]

Sputnik News
Date: July 30, 2018


If US Marines are sent to guard the de facto US embassy in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), it could be treated by Beijing as “severe subversion” and “even an invasion of the US military on Chinese soil,” a Sunday op-ed in Chinese state media warned.
A new report indicates US military personnel are set to deploy to the large new AIT building in Taiwan to safeguard US personnel there. Beijing would consider such a move a “subversion of the one-China policy,” the Global Times op-ed warned, and grounds for Beijing to deploy “an increasing number of countermeasures which Washington will have to confront.”

The US State Department has yet to decide whether US Marines will in fact be stationed at AIT, notes David An, senior research fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute, as they are at other other US embassies around the world. The AIT, however, though it performs the functions of a US embassy, is not technically an embassy building — an important distinction in the delicate diplomatic dance between Washington, Taipei and Beijing. Other questions, like whether or not the US service members would be dressed in military uniforms or casual clothing, also have yet to be answered.

Based on these facts, An told Sputnik News Monday, “My sense is that the final decision is still under consideration inside the US State Department.” An served as a political military affairs officer covering the East Asia region for the State Department from 2009 to 2014.

That the decision is still up in the air didn’t stop the Global Times from issuing a stern condemnation against potential provocations: “If the US Marines publicly station at the AIT in their uniforms, that would be treated by Beijing as a severe subversion of the one-China policy or even an invasion of the US military of Chinese soil.”    [FULL  STORY]


Date: July 1, 2018
By: Brad Lendon, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)The Pentagon kicked off the world’s largest naval war games last week, the biennial, month-long Rim of the Pacific exercises, known as RIMPAC, bringing together 46 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 troops from 25 nations.

Missing from that contingent is China, which was disinvited from RIMPAC over its militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

But as ships were arriving in Hawaii for RIMPAC, China was completing naval exercises of its own, with a series of live-fire naval drills off Taiwan that began on June 17.
That the two sets of exercises overlap only serves to reinforce the differences between the two super powers, as both countries vie for military influence in the Pacific.

RIMPAC is about “building relationships,” US military leaders said at a press conference in Hawaii on Thursday, pointing out Indo-Pacific nations making first-time or upgraded contributions to the exercises, including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, which all have claims in the South China Sea.    [FULL  STORY]

Clashes over South China Sea, Taiwan and trade have plunged Trump and Xi into the diplomatic deep freeze

The Guardian
Date: 5 Jun 2018
By: Simon Tisdall 

The US and China may be heading for a collision over Trump’s attempts to cut a denuclearisation-for-normalisation deal with North Korea. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

The US and China may be heading for a collision over Trump’s attempts to cut a denuclearisation-for-normalisation deal with North Korea. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP
China’s expanding efforts to impose its will on neighbours through diplomatic, commercial and military pressure – the so-called Xi doctrine – have drawn the sharpest riposte to date from the Trump administration, with Taiwan once again the main flashpoint in a sea of accelerating Sino-American rivalry.

Following recent verbal clashes over US “freedom of navigation” patrols in disputed South China Sea waters, officials in Washington say they plan to send a US aircraft carrier battlegroup into the Taiwan Strait separating the island from mainland China. The move was in response to China’s military “turning up the heat” on Taiwan, an official said.

Such a US deployment, if it goes ahead, would be seen as highly provocative by China’s president, Xi Jinping, who has vowed to reunify China with its “renegade province” in his lifetime. It would potentially bring the US navy into contact with Chinese surface and submarine forces and hundreds of People’s Liberation Army missile batteries lining the shores of the strait. Xi warned Taiwan’s pro-independence government in March that it would face the “punishment of history” if it pursued a separatist course.

On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman cautioned Washington not to jeopardise peace. “We have repeatedly emphasised that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue in the China-US relationship,” she said.

Although the US does not recognise Taiwan as an independent country, it is, to all intents and purposes, its principal defender and guarantor against attack. Donald Trump outraged Beijing after he was elected by talking directly to Taiwan’s president by phone. Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15bn (£11.2bn) in arms since 2010, and Trump has increased bilateral contacts, including with the Pentagon.    [FULL  STORY]

The Spokesman-Review
Date: June 1, 2018
By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, meets with Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu before their meeting with the Southeast Asian defense ministers at the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual defense and security forum in Asia, in Singapore on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Yong Teck Lim / AP)

SINGAPORE – China’s placement of weapons systems on manmade islands in the South China Sea is designed to intimidate and coerce others in the region, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday, laying out a sharp criticism of Beijing at an international security forum and threatening larger consequences if militarization continues.

He warned that America’s recent move to disinvite China from a multinational naval exercise this summer was an “initial response” to the militarization of the islands. It was, he said, a “relatively small consequence, I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”

China relying on muscle to use weapons to pursue goals not favored by international tribunals “is not a way to make long-term collaboration the rule of the road in a region that’s important to China’s future,” Mattis said, when asked to elaborate more on the consequences. “There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they don’t find a way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations who have interests.”

The U.S., he said, remains committed to ensuring free and open transit in the region. And he said he doesn’t believe that China’s actions will pay off. Militarizing the islands, Mattis said, will not enhance China’s standing in the world.

“Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” Mattis said, referring to the recent deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers and other equipment on the Spratly Islands, and the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island.

Mattis also struck at one of the key, longstanding disputes between the U.S. and China, telling the conference that America will continue to provide defense equipment and services to Taiwan and oppose any effort to alter the status quo. China claims the self-governing island as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: June 2, 2018
By: Clay Chandler

Are the U.S. and China “destined for war“? Harvard professor Graham Allison posed that question in a provocative book published last summer. I’ve written previously in this space about Allison’s thesis, but it seems newly relevant in light of developments over the last month, if not the last few days.

The gist of Allison’s argument is that the modern world’s two most powerful nations are stumbling into a “Thucydides Trap.” That’s Allison’s shorthand for the theory of an ancient Greek general who identified sudden, significant shifts in the relative strength of major powers as a primary cause (if not the primary cause) of military conflict. Thucydides, considered by many the world’s first true historian, floated the idea in his chronicle of the Peloponnesian Wars, the series of devastating conflicts between the two most powerful Greek city states, Athens and Sparta, in the fifth century BCE. Thucydides posited that, whatever superficial frictions and flashpoints might be blamed for hostilities between the two sides, the underlying cause of war was the frustration of leaders in the rising power, Athens, and the fear the growing strength in Athens inspired among leaders of the established power, Sparta.

Allison sees the same dynamic in conflicts between a rising England versus the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, a rising Germany versus Britain in the early 20th century, and a rising Japan versus the United States in the 1940s. In his book he argues that Thucydides’ theory perfectly explains the growing animosity between the U.S. and China. Allison doesn’t say war between the U.S. and China is inevitable. But he does argue that, “on the current trajectory, war between the U.S. and China in decades ahead is not just possible, but more likely than currently recognized.”

Allison expanded on those ideas in an appearance at the Asia Society here in Hong Kong in late April. He got a big laugh by observing that, if Hollywood were to produce a “Thucydides Trap” movie depicting the clash of the modern era’s two great powers, Central Casting couldn’t have contrived more perfect antagonists than Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. (Alec Baldwin, call your agent!) The line stuck with me, though, because in the weeks since, the two leaders have seemed to be reading almost line-for-line from the Thucydides script.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: May 30, 2018

China hit back at U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to push ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports despite a recent truce in the trade fight, saying it damages America’s standing.

If the U.S. insists on unilateral measures, China will respond accordingly, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday. The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that a final list of imported goods to be targeted will be released by June 15, and levies imposed “shortly thereafter.”

“Every flip-flop in international relations simply depletes a country’s credibility,” Hua said. Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that the trade talks between the two countries scheduled for June 2 in Beijing may be derailed by the fresh threat from Washington.

The announcement by Trump — which seemed to tear up an agreement reached only 10 days ago in Washington — is the latest twist in a trade dispute between the U.S. and China that has rattled financial markets for months and could threaten the broadest global upswing in years, according to the International Monetary Fund.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: May 30, 2018
By: Yawen Chen and Seyoung Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States’ measures against China’s investments are against World Trade Organization

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar and China Yuan notes are seen in this picture illustration June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

rules, and China reserves the right to take countermeasures, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

After trade tensions between the two countries appeared to cool following talks in Washington earlier in the month, the U.S. on Tuesday said it still holds a threat of imposing tariffs and will press ahead with restrictions on investment by Chinese companies in the United States.

Date: May 30, 2018
By Brad Lendon, CNN

(CNN)The US admiral expected to become the country’s next ambassador to South Korea says North Korea remains

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR HICKAM (May 30, 2018)– Adm. Phil Davidson, left, relieves Adm. Harry Harris, right, as commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM). USPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Mullen)

the most imminent threat to peace in the Pacific but China’s “dream of hegemony” is Washington’s biggest long-term challenge.

Adm. Harry Harris spoke Wednesday as he turned over the reins of the US Pacific Command to Adm. Phil Davidson at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in a ceremony that also announced the rebranding of US military assets in the region to the US Indo-Pacific Command.

Harris, who has been at the helm of the most expansive US military command for three years, hammered home points he’s made repeatedly during his term.

“North Korea remains our most imminent threat and a nuclear-capable North Korea with missiles that can reach the United States is unacceptable,” he said.

However he added, “China remains our biggest long-term challenge. Without focused involvement and engagement by the United States and our allies and partners China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia.”    [FULL  STORY]

Date: May 28, 2018
By: Laignee Barron

The Chinese military says it has dispatched warships after U.S. Navy vessels sailed near Beijing-claimed islands in the South China Sea.

The nautical confrontation comes amid tensions between the world’s two largest economies over trade as well as an on-again-off-again North Korean summit.

China’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the entry of the U.S. warships was not permitted, and they have been warned to leave.

The Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, and the Higgins, a destroyer, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, an archipelago in waters contested by China’s neighbors, according to the New York Times.

The chief spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, said the American military had “seriously violated China’s sovereignty, [and] undermined strategic mutual trust.”

The U.S. warships were carrying out “freedom of navigation” operations, also called FONOPS, which the Navy says are a means to challenge excessive maritime claims and uphold rights to use of the sea under international law. FONOPS are regularly conducted in disputed seas throughout the world.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, Cmdr. Clay Doss, told the Times that similar operations have been conducted in 22 countries.    [FULL  STORY]

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