Tag Archives: Second Island Chain

China’s new map includes “Second National Territory” of oceans

On June 25, 2014, Reuters reports that China has unveiled a new official map of the country giving greater play to its claims on the South China Sea by making the disputed waters and its numerous islets and reefs more clearly seem like national territory.

Although previous maps published by Beijing included China’s claim to most of the South China Sea, that claim was depicted in a little box in a bottom corner to enable the rest of the country to fit on the map. That placement made the South China Sea’s islands appear more like an appendage rather than an integral part of China.

The new, longer map dispenses with the box, and shows continental China along with its self-declared sea boundary in the South China Sea — stretching right down to the coasts of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines — on one complete map.

An unnamed official with the map’s publishers told the Chinese government’s official newspaper People’s Daily that the new “vertical map of China has important meaning for promoting citizens’ better understanding of … maintaining (our) maritime rights and territorial integrity.”

H/t CODA’s M.S.

New map of China 2014Click map to enlarge. Note the purple dashes marking the South China and East China Seas as parts of China.

Indeed, China’s recent aggressive moves in the South China Sea, as well as last November’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, are but indicators of an overall policy shift by the Chinese military from a land-based to an ocean defense strategy.

From p. 230 of Maria Hsia Chang’s Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism (Westview, 2001):

An article in [Beijing’s Guofang journal] National Defense in 1995 explains that, “In the past, for a long period of time,” humanity primarily relied on land for their survival and development, thinking that “national territory (guotu ) only meant dry land.” But in today’s world, due to rapid increases in population and dwindling land and resources, “national territory” must mean more than “land territory” (lingtu ) but should include “territorial waters” (linghai ). This has led nation-states to turn to the “oceans” (haiyang ) — most of which are still “virgin territory” — in their search for new “living space” (shengchun kongjiang  ).

The PRC  now conceives oceans to be its “second national territory” (dier guotu  ). It defines “maritime national territory” (haiyang guotu ) as “the maritime portion of any land and space belong to or under the jurisdiction of a coastal country.” China’s “second national territory” includes 12 territorial seas (linghai ), 24 “maritime adjacent regions” (haili pilian qu ), 200 maritime economic exclusive zones and continental shelves — totaling more than 3 million square kilometers or one-third of China’s land mass.

Defense of its “national maritime territory” requires Beijing to shift its defense strategy from one of “coastal defense” (jin’an fangyu ) to “offshore defense” (jinhai fangyu ). National Defense maintains that since “the frontline of maritime national defense lies beyond China’s territorial waters . . . there will be times” when China’s defense of its seas “may require doing battle in farther maritime regions” including “international waters and seabeds.” China’s perimeter of “offshore defense” is conceived to include two “island chains.” The first chain stretches from the Aleutians to the Kurils, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippine archipelago, and the Greater Sunda Islands. The “second island chain” comprises the Bonins, the Marianas, Guam, and the Palau archipelago.

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~StMA

China’s ADIZ is a strategic move to control First Island Chain

China-Japan ADIZs

On Nov. 23, 2013, China unilaterally announced an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) which includes the Japan-held Senkaku Islands, which Chinese call Diaoyutai and over which China also claims ownership.

Since that declaration, Japan and South Korea have refused to accept China’s ADIZ, while the Obama administration has sent mixed signals — at first seemingly challenging the ADIZ by flying two unarmed B-52 bombers over the East China Sea (and the disputed Senkaku islands), then seemingly accepting the ADIZ so long as China not require all aircraft, commercial and military, to check with Beijing before flying through the ADIZ.

It turns out that China’s ADIZ isn’t solely motivated by Beijing’s irredentist claim over the Senkakus, but reaches beyond those disputed islets to include none other than the First Island Chain.

What is the First Island Chain? From Maria Hsia Chang, Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism (Westview, 2001), p. 220:

The PRC [People’s Republic of China] now conceives oceans to be its “second national territory (dier guotu). … China’s “second national territory” includes 12 territorial seas …, 24 “maritime adjacent zones”…, 200 maritime exclusive economic zones and continental shelves — totaling more than 3 million square kilometers or one-third of China’s total land mass.

Defense of its “maritime national territory” requires Beijing to shift its defense strategy from one of “coastal defense” … to “offshore defense”…. National Defense maintains that since “the frontline of maritime national defense lies beyond China’s territorial waters … there will be times” when China’s defense of its seas “may require doing battle in farther maritime regions” including “international waters and seabeds.” China’s perimeter of “offshore defense” is conceived to include two “island chains.” The first chain stretches from the Aleutians to the Kurils, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippine archipelago, and the Greater Sunda Islands. The “second island chain” comprises the Bonins, the Marianas, Guam [a U.S. territory], and the Palau archipelago.

1st and 2nd island chainsFirst and Second Island Chains (click map to enlarge)

Below is an excerpt from a commentary by Li Xuejiang (李学江) in the Chinese-language People’s Network (Renmin wang 人民网) of Dec. 3, 2013, titled “Why China’s ADIZ is like a fishbone stuck in the throats of Japan and the U.S.”:

China’s announcement of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) caused an uproar in Japan, the United States, Australia, Canada and other Western countries. Japan and the U.S. even sent military planes as an act of provocation. Their media also rallied together to attack China. Some people laughed at China, saying that the ADIZ is a “disgrace,” “useless,” “a paper tiger.” But in truth, their reaction proves that China’s ADIZ is like a fishbone that’s stuck in the throats of Japan and the U.S.

One of the accusations against China is that China’s military modernization is “disrupting the balance of power in the region.” The United States, therefore, should “return to Asia” to restore the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific. Some U.S. allies in Southeast Asia also expect the United States to counterbalance China. It should be noted, however, that the Asia-Pacific has never had a military balance to restore. Not only has the United States never left Asia, it has had military dominance in East Asia. …

In recent years China’s military modernization has been more in the interest of  defense — an interest that is necessary and legitimate in order to rectify the “imbalance” of power so as to achieve a “rebalance.” This is what worries the United States and Japan. But that should not deter China — China cannot stop cultivating crops because of a “fear of locusts.”

China’s establishment of the ADIZ is not only a matter of the sovereignty of our core national interests and of economic importance; it also has great strategic significance. The United States not only has never accused Japan for its ADIZ, but strongly supports it. Why do these two countries cooperate so seamlessly? Their purpose is, through Japan’s ADIZ, to achieve a blockage of China’s sea and air passages in the first island chain.

Japan’s attempt in so doing is not just “unacceptable,” China must break through the blockage. Ironically, the United States and Japan have shown us how to break that blockage. Now that American and Japanese military airplanes have trespassed into China’s ADIZ without notice, China can also do so vis-a-vis Japan’s ADIZ and without notification. In effect, the U.S.-Japan’s first island chain has become a “useless paper tiger.”

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

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