United Nations arbitration denounced by Beijing.
A United Nations tribunal on Tuesday ruled unanimously against China’s history-based claim to sovereignty over 90 percent of the South China Sea.
The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague legally nullifies a multi-year effort by China to take control of the strategic Southeast Asian waterway by making historical claims and occupying disputed terrain.
The arbitration proceedings were sought by the Philippines government, which opposes China’s takeover of several of the Spratly Islands, small islands and reefs located in the southern part of the sea near the Philippines.
A key part of the tribunal’s ruling dismissed China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” an ill-defined border containing some 90 percent of the South China Sea. Beijing had asserted the zone is Chinese maritime territory.
The court said that while Chinese ships and fishermen, along with those of other regional states, used islands in the South China Sea in the past, “there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.”
“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,’” the court said in a statement.
A major showdown over control of the South China Sea has been underway for the past several years between the United States, China, and several smaller states with claims in the South China Sea, notably Philippines and Vietnam.
As part of its takeover bid, China has been building up some 3,200 acres of island terrain in the sea and recently began deploying military facilities and forces, including missiles and aircraft, on the islands in a bid to solidify its claims.
The Pentagon, after years of restraint, in October began challenging Chinese efforts at regional hegemony by resuming naval freedom of navigation operations and reconnaissance overflights.
Several incidents of potentially dangerous Chinese aerial intercepts of U.S. aircraft have taken place, and at least one naval confrontation took place between U.S. and Chinese warships.
In Beijing, Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping rejected the ruling. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said China would not accept any proposal or action by the court, and said that the islands in the South China Sea have been China’s since ancient times.
The Obama administration played down the ruling in an apparent bid to avoid upsetting Beijing. Administration comment was limited to a statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby and background comments by senior officials. The Pentagon declined to comment.
Kirby said the State Department was studying the 500-page decision but called the ruling a legally binding decision and “important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.”
The court “unanimously found that the Philippines was acting within its rights under the convention in initiating this arbitration” and that it is “final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines,” he added.
“In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions,” Kirby said.
The ruling is likely to heighten already tense relations. Chinese naval forces currently are holding large-scale naval exercises in the South China Sea. China’s military also announced the deployment of a new guided-missile warship to the area.
U.S. and Philippines armed forces on Monday launched the annual large-scale exercises known as Balikatan, or “shoulder to shoulder,” that are part of the U.S. military and diplomatic pivot to Asia.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun on Tuesday warned in response to the ruling that the military would protect the country’s national sovereignty, security, maritime rights, and interests.
The Pentagon is on alert for any Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea, a Pentagon official said. One possible action could be the establishment by China of an air defense identification zone as part of efforts to step up sea control.
A Chinese military spokesman said June 30 that the creation of such a zone would be based on “whether China is facing security threats from the air, and the level of the threat.”
Other potential action could be for China to seize a grounded Philippines freighter near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys. The Philippines navy has been using the rusting ship that ran aground in 1999 as a military outpost.
The complicated legal opinion for the first time sets out under international law precisely how islands, reefs, and rocks in the sea determine the exclusive economic zones of regional states as set out in the Law of the Sea Convention. The convention set up the arbitration tribunal.
The United States has signed the convention but not ratified it over security concerns related to sovereignty issues.
The unfavorable ruling was partly the result of China’s refusal to take part in the arbitration. Beijing insisted the court did not have jurisdiction over the sea and insisted the illegal dispute should only have been resolved through bilateral China-Philippines talks.
The court rejected China’s position noting that the convention setting up the court permits a ruling on issues even when one party does not participate.
China’s activities since the arbitration process was initiated in 2013 also undermined the court’s efforts to resolve the dispute, by building on the Spratlys and damaging the ecology of the region.
“The Tribunal noted that China has (a) built a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; (b) caused permanent, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem and (c) permanently destroyed evidence of the natural condition of the features in question,” the court said.
“The Tribunal concluded that China had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating or extending the parties’ disputes during the pendency of the settlement process.”
In Manila, Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay urged “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety,” adding that the decision supported international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Taiwan, which controls an island in the Spratlys islands, also rejected the court ruling as undermining its claims.
Vietnam welcomed the court’s ruling and said it confirmed Hanoi’s control over both the Paracels and the Spratlys.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said the ruling should lead to more U.S. military operations in the sea.
“Today’s ruling is clear, unambiguous, and reinforces the international order,” Thornberry said in a statement. “The United States should act to give this ruling weight by continuing our free navigation of the seas with our allies and partners in the region, maintaining a robust and ready naval presence in the area, and demonstrating that we are a reliable ally to countries in the region.”
Last week, Abraham Denmark, the assistant defense secretary for East Asia, testified before a joint House hearing of Armed Services and Foreign Affairs subcommittees that the United States is opposing China’s military buildup in the sea.
“Although the United States has noted these developments and expressed our objections to China’s unilateral changing of the strategic landscape of the South China Sea, our primary concern revolves around risk of unintended escalation or conflict among claimants,” Denmark said. “Once completed and outfitted, these facilities will greatly improve China’s capabilities to enforce its maritime and territorial claims, and project power further from China’s shores.”
Denmark said Chinese deployments of radar, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and fighter jets on the newly created islands is a concern.
“Furthermore, the construction of hangars, anti-aircraft guns, and fuel and water underground storage facilities would support extended deployments of multiple aircraft and ships,” he said.
Former State Department official John Tkacik, a specialist on China affairs, said the ruling is a major setback for Chinese hegemony over the southern areas of the sea but may not affect Chinese claims to the Paracels, in the northern part, where China has faced off against Vietnam.
“The tribunal went out of its way to nullify all China’s (and Taiwan’s) claims to large, 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones saying that none of China’s landforms even qualify as ‘islands,’ so China cannot make any maritime claims in the southern South China Sea whatsoever,” Tkacik said.
Additionally, the court dismissed China’s assertion of a historical claim to the Spratlys.
“It’s a total loss for China,” Tkacik said. “And it should teach them that if they want to prevail in international legal actions, they should darn well put together a legal team and make their case to the judges.”
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said the ruling is a set back for China that illegally seized Scarborough Shoal in April 2012.
Fanell said as a career intelligence officer he is worried about the risk to U.S. and allied forces from some type of Chinese military response.
“Given Beijing’s response to the [court] ruling, we should expected the PLA navy and their maritime militia to respond aggressively at sea, to include events such as ramming incidents in the Spratly Islands and even a blockade of Second Thomas Shoal,” he said.
China also could begin building fortifications on Scarborough Shoal, he said, adding that Beijing could also step up military provocations in the East China Sea against Japan or take economic actions.
The tribunal was made up of five legal experts. They included Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana, Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Prof. Alfred H.A. Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany. Judge Mensah was president of panel.
In every Fascist, National Socialist and Communist state in the 20th and the 21st centuries, foreign policy had been marked by a deep and dark, spellbound and cruel mystery. In the People’s Republic of China, this mystery has had more darker depths, and has taken the shape of Oriental transcendentalism mixed with the horrific notion of racial superiority.
“In reasoning,” Mao Tse-tung opined, “we shall start by delivering a shock and yelling at the patient, you are sick, so that he is scared into a sweat, and then we will tell him gently that he needs treatment.” In Mao’s formula the “treatment” consisted of applying “Brute Force” to annihilate anybody who happened to disagree with him, or found guilty by the various kangaroo courts for imaginary offenses.
Thus, the historic humiliation of Imperial China by several foreign powers had brought forth an equally historic “brute” enmity between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world. Its political and military manifestations are clearly apparent in the rapidly escalating regional and global hostility of Beijing toward its Asian neighbors and the United States of America. Indeed, Xi Jinping’s strategic roadmap is an audacious attempt to recreate China’s former imperial greatness. Against the backdrop of between $2.5 and $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, the world’s largest, Beijing is set to assert its political, economic and military dominance regionally as well as globally. Continue reading
China’s global dominance, something analysts say is inevitable, will have to wait.
by Gordon G. Chang • The National Interest
Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.
Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.
The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states. Continue reading
by US Naval Institute Staff • USNI News
Historically, China has been a great innovator contributing inventions such as gunpowder, paper and the compass to human advancement. However, China has earned an international reputation in recent decades as being the home of a prolific copycat culture.
The Chinese have become proficient at cloning products ranging from designer handbags and the latest smartphones to movies and alcoholic beverages. Fake Apple stores, counterfeit KFC restaurants and imitation IKEA big-box outlets dot the Chinese landscape. They have even built entire replica European towns.
Some Western observers believe this cultural attitude towards imitation is rooted in Confucianism where followers traditionally learned by replicating masterworks and then tried to improve upon them. Continue reading
Air Force general: Adversaries developing capabilities that are ‘better than what we currently have in many areas’
by Daniel Wiser • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. adversaries including China, Russia, and Iran are developing military capabilities that will allow them to compete with shrinking and aging American forces in the coming years, according to a new report.
The report, authored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Foreign Policy Initiative, warns that U.S. adversaries have been bolstering their militaries and purchasing cheaper weapon systems as the United States cuts its defense budget and delays acquisition of new equipment. Both China and Russia have increased their defense budgets by double digits in recent years, for example, while the United States could reduce its military spending by as much as $1 trillion in a decade under cuts known as sequestration.
“After a procurement holiday in the 1990s and a hollow buildup during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, American military capabilities have declined independently and relatively to adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran,” the report said. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
Contrary to the erroneous opinions of most politicians and Sinologists, the People’s Republic of China, well into the seventh decade of its existence, is facing severe political and economic crises. Maoism, the gibberish amalgam of twisted socialist ideas and hard-core Han racism, had never been about Marxism-Leninism with “Chinese characteristics.” Rather, Maoism was designed to be a double edged political sword. On the one hand, Maoism meant autocratic contempt for the “politically incompetent” and “economically immature” subjects who could not be trusted with affairs of any importance. On the other hand, Mao wanted to establish, maintain and protect his “thorough revolution” by excluding intellectuals with “bourgeois mentality”, whether inside or outside the party, and base his autocracy on inexperienced and uneducated workers, peasants and soldiers, self-evidently comprising of incompetent and immature individuals. Continue reading
Barack Obama’s presidency has empowered the adversaries of the United States
by Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
This week President Obama won the 34th vote in support of his nuclear deal with Iran. The vote, from Senator Barbara Mikulski, guarantees that the deal will survive a rejection by Congress. The fact that the deal will be made despite such opposition—something a few of us predicted months ago—is, in the words of the AP, a “landmark Obama victory.” It is worth asking how many more of these victories our country can withstand.
The president and his supporters, of course, say their foreign policy has improved the world. “Like George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton,” writes Gideon Rose of Foreign Affairs, “Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further.”
I’m not convinced. Rather than trying to predict how things will look when Obama leaves office, rather than contemplating abstractions such as our “overall foreign policy agenda” and “national power position,” why not examine the actual results of Obama’s policies, as they exist now, in the real world before our eyes? Continue reading
Beijing Plots to Surpass U.S. in Coming Decades
by Bill Gertz • The Washington Free Beacon
China launched a secret 100-year modernization program that deceived successive U.S. administrations into unknowingly promoting Beijing’s strategy of replacing the U.S.-led world order with a Chinese communist-dominated economic and political system, according to a new book by a longtime Pentagon China specialist.
For more than four decades, Chinese leaders lulled presidents, cabinet secretaries, and other government analysts and policymakers into falsely assessing China as a benign power deserving of U.S. support, says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking analyst who has worked on China policy and intelligence issues for every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon.
The secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a large-scale transfer of cash, technology, and expertise that bolstered military and Communist Party “superhawks” in China who are now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United States, Pillsbury concludes in a book published this week. Continue reading
By Shawn Macomber
Ever wonder why the official International Criminal Court logo has a set of scales but no equivalent of the blindfolded “Lady Justice”? Kim Jong-un doesn’t — he and the rest of the fanatical gangsters running the nationwide gulag that is now the hermit kingdom understand they will get a free pass from rent-seeking internationalists who are more interested in the power and prestige of the Court than any unbiased pursuit of justice.
by Charles Krauthammer • Washington Post
Historic. Such is the ubiquitous description of the climate agreement recently announced in Beijing between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in which China promised for the first time to cap carbon emissions.
If this were a real breakthrough, I’d be an enthusiastic supporter. I have long advocated for a tangible global agreement to curb carbon. I do remain skeptical about the arrogant, ignorant claim that climate science is “settled,” that it can predict with accuracy future “global warming” effects and that therefore we must cut emissions radically, immediately and unilaterally if necessary, even at potentially ruinous economic and social cost.
I nonetheless believe (and have written since 1988) that pumping increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing. We don’t know nearly enough about the planet’s homeostatic mechanisms for dealing with it, but prudence would dictate reducing CO2 emissions when and where we can. Continue reading
by Peter Roff • Washington Times
That we can see the demonstrations at all has a lot to do with the Internet, itself a tool that global pro-democracy movements have successfully used to make the entire world sit up and take notice of what they are trying to accomplish. Authoritarian leaders like China’s Xi Jinping therefore have an unsurprisingly cautious attitude toward the World Wide Web; they understand its open nature and the free flow of words and video pose a very real and constant threat to their power.
That openness is a direct result of the influence of core American values on Internet governance. The Internet was invented by the United States government, which has turned the management of many of its essential functions over to a California-based nonprofit corporation created for that specific purpose called ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Up to now the U.S. connection has insured the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution shapes the way it operates. Continue reading
Despite the intense efforts of Beijing to Sinicise Xinjiang, it remains the most un-Chinese of China’s administrative regions and the only one with a majority Muslim population. It occupies one-sixth of China’s territory featuring the largest desert in the world, the highest mountains in Asia after the Himalayas, and one of the most ethnically diverse regions on the Eurasian land-mass.
When Chinese dynasties were potent Hsu Yu (Western Region) was fortified with military encampments. This was generally the case respectively during the Han, Tang, Yuan, Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties. Continue reading
For President Obama, caution in the defense of liberty is no vice, and militarism in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Obama didn’t come to Asia to paraphrase Barry Goldwater’s acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention. But he did after growing frustrated with recent editorial criticism portraying his foreign policy as weak and naive.
It started in Seoul, where Obama faced a second day of questions from reporters in Japan and South Korea about his commitment to defend these allies in the face of Chinese and North Korean military muscle-flexing. Continue reading
by William Tucker
On Wednesday, the New York Times published a very nice account of a speech President Vladimir Putin gave to a group of the Russian elite in the Grand Kremlin Palace. Reported by on-the-scene correspondents, it was free of the usual filtering that takes place in Washington or most of the country’s newsrooms:
In an emotional address steeped in years of resentment and bitterness at perceived slights from the West, Mr. Putin made it clear that Russia’s patience for post-Cold War accommodation, much diminished of late, had finally been exhausted. Speaking to the country’s political elite in the Grand Kremlin Palace, he said he did not seek to divide Ukraine any further, but he vowed to protect Russia’s interests there from what he described as Western actions that had left Russia feeling cornered.
This isn’t exactly the picture John Kerry and Angela Merkel are giving us. According to them, President Putin is “in another world, “behaving in 19th century fashion,” “completely isolated” and “has a huge price to pay.” Close your eyes, however, and you are listening to Hitler lamenting the humiliations visited upon Germany by the Versailles Treaty. They said the same thing about him. You know what happened next. Continue reading
by Charles C. W. Cooke
If at least for the sake of variation, those charged with riffling through last Friday’s news dumps must have been relieved to find neither new Obamacare delays nor abandoned red lines hiding among the detritus. And yet, while the less technically proficient could have been forgiven for having missed it, an announcement just as vexing was waiting in lieu: that America was planning to give up control of the Internet.
At this point in the proceedings, one is customarily chastised by pedants who note impatiently that the United States does not really “control” much of the Internet at all — at least not literally. The Internet, our dogmatists record, is a wildly decentralized network of computers, servers, and services that are run by non-governmental agencies, individual citizens, and private businesses, and fleshed out by the enthusiasm and the creativity of civil society. They are right, of course. In its structure, the Web is a libertarian’s dream — an explosion of spontaneous order and of mutual cooperation that would have made Hayek blush. It don’t need no stinkin’ Man.
And yet, as with all good things, it does have some framework — a slim skeleton on which the meat and the gristle might be laid. As Forbes’s Emma Woollacott confirmed on Saturday, should the U.S. government go through with its plan, the responsibilities to be farmed out will include the administration of changes to the DNS’s authoritative root zone file — the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains — as well as managing the unique identifiers registries for domain names, IP addresses, and protocol parameters. Continue reading