Tag Archives: Jin Canrong

China builds artificial island in South China Sea

South China Sea China is stepping up its irredentist claim to ownership of islands in the sub-soil  oil and gas rich South China Sea, by constructing an artificial island in the Spratlys.

Kristine Kwok and Minnie Chan report for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, June 7, 2014:

China is looking to expand its biggest installation in the Spratly Islands into a fully formed artificial island, complete with airstrip and sea port, to better project its military strength in the South China Sea, a Chinese scholar and a Chinese navy expert have said.

Chinese artificial island in South China Sea The planned expansion on the disputed Fiery Cross Reef, if approved, would be a further indication of China’s change of tack in handling long-running sovereignty disputes from a defensive stance to an offensive one, analysts said.

They said it was seen as a step to the declaration of an air defence identification zone.

The Philippines last month protested against China’s reclamation activities at nearby Johnson South Reef, site of a 1988 skirmish between the Chinese and Vietnamese navies that was triggered by China’s occupation of Fiery Cross Reef.

With recent developments in the South China Sea having again focused the international spotlight on China, the analysts warned reclamation at the Fiery Cross atoll – which China, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim – would further strain Beijing’s relations with neighbours. South China Sea The proposal to build an artificial island there had been submitted to the central government, said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

The artificial island would be at least double the size of the US military base of Diego Garcia, a remote coral atoll occupying an area of 44 square kilometres in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Jin added.

The reef currently houses Chinese-built facilities including an observation post commissioned by Unesco’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Li Jie, a naval expert from the Chinese Naval Research Institute, said the expanded island would include the airstrip and port. After the expansion the island would continue to house the observation post and to provide military supplies and assistance, he said.

A retired People’s Liberation Army senior colonel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the construction of a landing strip on Fiery Cross Reef would allow China to better prepare for the establishment of an air defence identification zone over the South China Sea.

Beijing’s declaration of such a zone over the East China Sea in December prompted concerns among Southeast Asian countries that a similar arrangement could be imposed in the South China Sea.

Fiery Cross Reef, known as Yongshu in China, Kagitingan in the Philippines and Da Chu Thap in Vietnam, is close to sea lanes and could serve as a strategic naval staging post, said Alexander Neill, a Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow.

Jin said consideration of whether and how to go ahead with the Fiery Cross Reef proposal would depend on progress on reclamation at Johnson South Reef. “It’s a very complicated oceanic engineering project, so we need to learn from the experience” on Johnson South, Jin said.

Late last month, renditions of a proposed artificial island were circulated among Chinese media. Citing a report posted on the website of the Shanghai-based China Shipbuilding NDRI Engineering, the Global Times said the unidentified artificial island could include a landing strip and a 5,000-tonne berth.

Zhang Jie, an expert on regional security with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China had long been researching island reclamation. Institutes and companies had drafted various designs over the past decade, said Zhang, adding that she had attended deliberation of one proposal years ago. “We had the ability to build artificial islands years ago, but we had refrained because we didn’t want to cause too much controversy,” she said.

However, this year had seen a “turning point” in which Beijing appeared to be making more offensive moves in the area, said Zhang, citing the recent deployment of an oil rig to disputed waters near Vietnam.

“Building an artificial island can no doubt provide supplies to ships and oil rigs nearby, but this would also cause very severe negative impacts in the region.” Such moves, she added, would further deepen mistrust among China’s neighbours and cause instability in the region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

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U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Locklear says China is eclipsing U.S. in Asia

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon taunts the Obama administration, saying the only way Israel could be “saved” is if Secretary of State John Kerry would just “leave us alone.”

Britain’s senior military advisor Sir Hew Strachan dismisses Obama as a know-nothing (“Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world”) who has “undermined America’s military reputation and destabilized the Middle East.” (See my post of yesterday, “Foreign leaders openly scorn US President Obama.“)

Now none other than the chief of the U. S. Pacific Command is confirming the decline of U.S. power in the Asia-Pacific region, a superiority that increasingly is eclipsed by a rising China.

Adm Samuel Locklear IIIU.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear III

Guy Taylor and Rowan Scarborough report for the Washington Times that three years after the Obama administration’s ballyhooed military “pivot” to Asia (and concomitant de-emphasis on Europe), the top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, says that U.S. dominance in Asia has weakened in the shadow of a more aggressive China.

At the annual Surface Navy Association conference in Virginia on Jan. 15, 2014, Adm. Locklear said, “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question.”

While it is obvious that Chinese military power is growing, Locklear maintains it is unclear whether China will seek to be a hard adversary to the U.S. in the long term. He recommends Washington should be working overtime on steering Beijing toward a cooperative security posture. “China is going to rise, we all know that. [But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

His remarks offered insight into the introspection at the Pentagon’s highest levels about how the U.S. should tailor its military presence in the region, where Beijing and Moscow — regional powerhouses and former Cold War adversaries to Washington — are keen to challenge U.S. dominance.

That Locklear thinks the U.S. could mold Beijing to be a “cooperative” partner stuns Heritage Foundation analyst Dean Cheng. Cheng observes, “The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security? The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods. But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself. This is the kind of bizarre lens that led one of Adm. Locklear’s predecessors to offer to help China with its carrier development.”

Meanwhile the Chinese are crowing.

Global Times, China’s official English-language newspaper, trumpeted Adm. Locklear’s remarks in a story beneath the headline “U.S. losing grip on Pacific: PACOM.”

In the Global Times story, Jin Canrong, a deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said Adm. Locklear’s comments are a recognition of China as a rising military power, but that “some people, who sit in their offices in Washington, tend to hold a more hard-line position toward China.”

China has focused its attention and actions almost exclusively on its naval and air power over waterways in its immediate vicinity.

Much of Beijing’s posturing has been within the context of territorial disputes with longtime U.S. ally Japan and smaller Pacific nations over patches of islands in the South and East China seas.

Read the rest of the Washington Times article here.

An Obama appointee, Locklear became Commander of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) on 9 March 2012. Based in Honolulu, USPACOM is the oldest and largest of the armed forces’ Unified Combatant Commands.

For the record, this is the same Admiral Samuel Locklear III who, in an interview with the Boston Globe in March 2013 and despite the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern (a “hiatus” in rising temperatures) for the past 20 years, said that the greatest threat to the Pacific region is not China or North Korea, but “climate change.”

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