China Becomes a Maritime Bully

The popular theory for China's remarkable growth from a poverty-stricken agrarian country into an industrial juggernaut that is now grasping towards superpower status is that "China fueled its former spectacular growth with massive government spending." But like almost everything in our world today, there is almost always a different reality. According to Richard Haass, the former director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State and current President of the Council on Foreign Relations, China had enormous help. He states that the West orchestrated China's growth to create a powerful rival on the former Soviet Union's doorstep to deter wars in that region.

Not surprisingly, the West has made China into an even more dangerous opponent than the Soviet Union was - a reality that Western leaders purposely ignore as they continue to enable China to strengthen its position as a critical player in the globalist governing structure.

In his 2020 article entitled "What Mike Pompeo Doesn't Understand About China, Richard Nixon, and U.S. Foreign Policy," Haass claims that critics are mistaken when they say that "U.S. foreign policy failed … because China did not evolve into a democracy." Instead, he asserts that U.S. policy succeeded: "In cementing China's split from the Soviet Union, the United States gained leverage that contributed to the Cold war ending when and how it did."

The problem with his explanation of why they empowered the Chinese Dragon of today is that the Soviet Union's economy was already collapsing from colossal industrial shortages caused by governmental spending on the military long before China emerged as a powerhouse.

In typical elitist double-speak, Haass unintentionally admits that China would likely have failed due to its poor economic policies. He dismissed the idea that the United States now needs to confront China about trade problems, such as tech theft or product dumping, or its physical aggression because that country is in for a problematic future without our intervention

To be sure, the country faces enormous challenges: an aging society that will soon start shrinking dramatically, a badly damaged environment, an inadequate health system, an unsustainable economic model that relies on massive amounts of investment for growth, and a top-heavy leadership that stifles creativity and has difficulty correcting its mistakes

To anyone looking at the growth of China objectively, it is apparent that Haass and his fellow globalists are either enabling China to spread its totalitarian control globally or are under the delusion that they can still control it. Continued globalist aid to China will help propel that country from a neighborhood bully into a worldwide tyrant with unimaginable consequences.

China eagerly accepts hand-outs from the West even as it asserts its sphere of influence through military and economic means into every corner of the planet. With the West's aid, China is looking to become an invincible force, as exemplified by its aggression, especially its actions on the high seas.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his first speech as president in early 2013, presented his administration's vision: "We must make persistent efforts, press ahead with indomitable will, continue to push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." And it's clear that his concept of the "Chinese Dream" includes aggressively expanding maritime power.

Extend the Battleground

Perhaps, no better interpretation of Xi's dream exists than the November 2013 release of photos of Chinese sailors on the deck of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, standing in a formation shaped to create six Chinese characters reading "Chinese dream, military dream."

Under Xi, China has reorganized and rebuilt its military so well that Andrei Kokoshin, Russia's foremost expert on the Chinese armed forces, calls it "unprecedented in scale and depth." And China is not a paper tiger; it has unleashed its claws, aggressively acting to control the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

With six nations, including China, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, laying claims to parts of the South China Sea, few water bodies on Earth are as strategic or contested. Moreover, with the world's waters at least nominally under the control of the U.N. via the Law of the Sea Treaty, which China signed, all claims to territorial waters should be relatively easy to review and assign.

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explained, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea consists of "a body of customs, treaties, and international agreements by which governments maintain order, productivity, and peaceful relations on the sea." Under the treaty (of which China was a charter member), each nation has sovereignty over the waters extending 12 nautical miles from its shores. It also has a 200-mile "exclusive economic zone" off its shores, giving countries sole control over the resources within that zone.

Using "historical claims," China has laid claim to almost 90 percent of the South China Sea. The area China claims is marked on area maps by the imaginary "nine-dash line," covering seas up to about 1,200 miles away from mainland China. Many of the areas claimed by China fall within 100 miles of the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Few other countries worldwide recognize either the legitimacy of China's nine-dash line map or its historical claim. Yet China has been moving to consolidate control over all areas it claims by building artificial islands in the regions and keeping other countries' vessels out of those waters.

At the heart of the disputes is control over the ocean's natural resources, including enormous amounts of oil and natural gas. The area's fisheries account for 10 percent of the world's seafood supply while providing food and jobs for millions. Additionally, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates almost one-third of global shipping and more than $3 trillion worth of international trade annually pass through this area.

In 2013, the Philippines sued China under the Law of the Sea Treaty at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague for repeatedly violating its exclusive economic zone. After a three-year trial, the court released the decision, saying

China had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands, and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels…

The tribunal found … that China's recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations on a State during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has inflicted irreparable harm to the marine environment, built a large artificial island in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features in the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties' dispute.

Following the decision's release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China released a statement refuting the tribunal's authority: "China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards."

In the five years since the decision, China has significantly increased its presence in its neighbors' coastal waters, and the world's response has been to do nothing about it. So, either the global community is impotent to do anything about the problem or implicitly condones the actions.

Graphic credit: YouTube screengrab

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