China Warns that War is Inevitable

The power vacuum created by the Obama administration’s withdrawal from world leadership and resistance to tyranny is not only being filled by the Islamic State and its terrorist affiliates like Boko Haram and state sponsors of terror like soon-to-be nuclear Iran but also by an increasingly belligerent and resurgent China.

China’s State Council, the Communist giant’s version of our cabinet, has issued a policy paper declaring that Beijing is facing “a grave and complex array of security threats” that forces it to switch its strategy from defense to offense and that as a result China will increase its “open seas protection”.

This means that China is not about to give up its territorial claim in the South and East China Seas, which include the Spratley, Paracel, and Shenkaku Island chains but will protect them with aggressive force if necessary. China will also continue its building of artificial islands as bases from which to strike. This is a clear response to President Obama’s “Pacific pivot” and an indication of how little Beijing is impressed.

An editorial in the Global Times, a newspaper seen as a mouthpiece for hard-line nationalists in Beijing, warns of the consequences of resistance warns, “If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt these activities, then a U.S. China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

As Investor’s Business Daily has noted:

Beijing has long declared the South China Sea to be its territorial waters and has laid claim to two disputed chains: the Paracel Islands, about 200 miles from the coast of Vietnam, and the Spratly Islands in the southeastern part of the South China Sea. China's territorial ambitions include the Senkakus in the East China Sea, part of what Chinese military doctrine refers to as the "first island chain" that surrounds China.

In the South China Sea, as of February, according to Reuters, China had finished construction on no less than six different island reefs from which to project its power in the South China Sea. Included in its military effort is the construction of a 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) long runway on the artificially expanded Fiery Cross Reef as a base for Chinese fighter aircraft.

China's creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea is happening so fast that Beijing will be able to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard and fishing fleets before long, much to the alarm of rival claimants to the contested waters.

Reclamation work is well advanced on six reefs in the Spratly archipelago, according to recently published satellite photographs and Philippine officials. In addition, Manila said this month that Chinese dredgers had started reclaiming a seventh.

China also is laying claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China which are under Japanese administration and which Tokyo claims as Japanese territory. This has caused Japan to inch farther away from its post-World War II neutrality and with three consecutive increases to its military budget to, for it, a whopping $42 billion.

Beijing has established what it calls Air Defense Identification Zones in the East China Sea, one of which overlaps the Senkaku Islands. Beijing insists that aircraft flying through these zones file their flight plans in advance for the approval of Chinese authorities as part of its long-term plans to dominate the region. The Zones met only token resistance from the Obama administration:

China obviously has not been deterred by the Obama administration's response to the imposition of the East China Sea ADIZ. After China declared that ADIZ encompassing the Senkakus, two U.S. B-52s flew through the claimed air space without informing Beijing. But the Obama administration then instructed U.S. carriers to accede to China's demands for prior notification.

China's establishment of the ADIZs is carefully timed and part of a strategy to project power beyond its coastal waters. Its goal is to secure the waters from Japan's home islands through Taiwan and to the Strait of Malacca, encompassing the East and South China seas.

China’s military has grown apace with its territorial ambitions and has come a long way since the incident on April 1, 2001, when a Chinese J-8 fighter collided with an American EP-3 surveillance aircraft, forcing it to land on China’s Hainan Island. Hainan also happens to be home to a Chinese submarine base for its ballistic missile and attack submarines.

As Bill Gertz noted in the Washington Free Beacon recently, a report b y the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and  Security Review Commission noted the threat posed in the region by China’s growing military prowess:

China’s rapid military modernization is altering the military balance of power in the Asia Pacific in ways that could engender destabilizing security competition between other major nearby countries, such as Japan and India, and exacerbate regional hotspots such as Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea,” the report concludes in a section on military developments.

This power shift in Asia caused Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III to testify before, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, to warn at the annual Surface Navy Conference in Virginia: “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question.”

China is on the rise and on the march and is preparing to call our “Pacific pivot” bluff. We need to hear the warnings of China’s ambitions versus our diminished ability to challenge them.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.