Tag Archives: South China Sea

Our Future Anti-China Military Strategy

This article is three months old, but I think it’s an interesting summary of how AirSea Battle will be focusing our future development efforts into some specific subject areas.

Jim H

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http://news.usni.org/2013/10/30/future-air-sea-battle

The Future of Air Sea Battle

By: Sam LaGrone and Dave Majumdar

Published: October 30, 2013 4:39 AM

The Pentagon is taking its next steps in developing the often misunderstood and occasionally controversial Air-Sea Battle concept, according to several USNI News interviews with Navy and defense officials.

The effort is the latest from the Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO), a group of 20-some military intellectuals who have been struggling on how to counter what the Pentagon sees as its toughest problems in the wake of more than a decade of low-intensity ground conflicts: anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies.

A2/AD is an age-old strategy that stiff-arms a military force, preventing opponents from accessing a physical position on the sea, land or the air.

For a time, for example, the Great Wall of China denied the Mongol hordes access to China’s interior. Likewise, minefields prevent an infantry unit from operating on a particular piece of land. Anti-air missiles prevent fighters and bombers from striking more difficult targets in a protected area.

Typically the strategy was—and is—used by an inferior military to contain a larger, more sophisticated force, and blunt its attacking power.

As the United States was focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, threats to U.S. abilities to operate freely with its military have increased—such as cheaper longer-range guided missiles—making it harder for U.S. forces to access areas in which they would like to operate.

A global rise in sophisticated weapons technology, combined with the U.S. focus on the ground wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, has allowed American proficiency in countering A2/AD threats to slip.

“We’ve lost some skills and let them wither, because it wasn’t required in operations in the past,” one defense official told USNI News.

Enter ASBO.

At its onset the Air-Sea Battle Office was tasked with taking knowledge from the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, understanding with exhaustive detail the tactics and equipment the services used to handle A2/AD threats, and then providing commanders on the ground with solutions to solve the problem using the material they had on hand.

The goal is for the U.S. military to, “go into an area, [and when] someone throws up jammers, somebody throws out mines, somebody throws out submarines as a threat to your surface ships . . . you know right away what to do about it,” Rear Adm. James Foggo, the Navy’s head of operations, plans and strategy told USNI News earlier this month.

At the beginning, the ASBO acted like a help desk for the A2/AD fight. Commanders would initially reach out to the office and the ASBO would give them options on how to use their existing equipment to deal with anti-access threats.

“The beauty of the concept is it focuses the services on what the problems are. That’s become a very useful lens,” a defense official familiar with the ASBO told USNI News. “It’s the disrupt, destroy and defeat approach that Air Sea battle embraces that talks about a different way of waging war. It applies an operational design on how you would do that against an adversary that [has] multiple types of these capabilities.”

The early help-desk approach has evolved into a more sophisticated set of goals, outlined in the ten mission areas where the United States needs in improve.

These areas—ranging from how to protect assets in space to waging war at sea—all point to capabilities the military has let atrophy while the focus was on the largely low intensity occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, one defense official told USNI News. “It was the outside-the-Pentagon folks who guided us to these ten mission focus areas,” a defense official told USNI News. “We’re talking to the fleets and forces and they’re helping us rationalize our priorities.”

Pentagon officials provided USNI News a list of the ten areas the ASBO singled out for additional work:

Cross-Domain Operations Command-and-Control (C2)

A fundamental task of any military is telling forces where to go and what to do when they get there. In ASB, the challenge is to efficiently coordinate air, land and sea forces together effectively where seconds count. The Pentagon has several systems in place to undertake the C2 role. An ASB challenge would be to integrate the systems, which do not all communicate with each other.

Undersea Warfare Supremacy

Submarines are a powerful weapon in denying an adversary access in the ocean. Several countries in Southeast Asia have been buying quiet diesel-electric submarines best suited for short-range patrols close to shore. U.S. nuclear submarines can better project power far from shore and the in open ocean, but likely are louder than their diesel-electric counterparts. The area also implies the United States could do more in the anti-submarine warfare realm in detecting an adversary’s submarines before they can do damage to the Navy’s forces.

War at Sea

The U.S. Navy has focused its surface fleet on anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense roles with its Aegis cruisers and destroyers. Additionally, the Navy’s new littoral combat ships are more oriented toward operations closer to shore. Open-ocean and ship-to-ship warfare has not been a priority for the Navy for years; there has been little development in modern anti-ship weapons. The Pentagon has only recently launched the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile program to counter some the newer threats. Iran, China and Russia have heavily invested in ships having the primary function of fighting other ships.

Attack Operations to Defeat A2/AD

Attacking elements of an A2/AD strategy to prepare for a larger follow-on force. This could include using a combination of penetrating strike assets, such as a long-range U.S. Air Force stealth bomber or fifth-generation fighter alongside cruise missiles, electronic attacks and cyber-warfare to target the means by which the enemy is conducting its A2/AD strategy. This could mean attacking command-and-control nodes, eliminating surface-to-air missile batteries and coastal defenses or even knocking out launch sites for the so called “carrier killer” missiles or even disrupting enemy infrastructure by hacking their electrical grids.

Active and Passive Defense

Active defense uses military power to deny an enemy a specific piece of territory by physically attacking potential threats before it can launch its weapons. One example would be to sink an enemy submarine before got into position to launch its cruise missiles. Passive defense is designed to resist attacks in a specific area by hardening, camouflaging or dispensing forces and could mean intercepting incoming enemy weapons. The Air-Sea Battle concept would integrate the separate systems the services use already to execute both.

Distributed Basing

Instead of operating from a large single land base, distributed basing spreads out a force across several different semi-prepared positions making it harder for an adversary to target. As the United States consolidates its bases in the Pacific, it has explored operating from other bases in the event of a conflict. For example, the United States could be using airstrips in the Philippines for military aircraft. Potentially, entirely new airstrips could be cleared out for temporary use as needed—as was the case during World War II.

Contested Space Operations

Securing U.S. assets in space, such as satellites. Ship-based missiles have been able to successfully shoot down satellites in the past. But this does not necessarily require armoring up satellites or that space vehicles need to maneuver to avoid threats; it could simply mean securing against the jamming of satellite communications or GPS signals. Additionally it could entail securing U.S. satellite ground stations from physical or cyber attack, which for an enemy are easier options than a physical attack on an orbiting satellite. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, it could mean attacking enemy satellites, their signals, or ground stations either by kinetic or electronic means.

Contested Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

How to provide forces the information they need to operate and make battlefield and strategic decisions in combat. Most current U.S. ISR platforms are designed for operations in permissive environments, but in an A2/AD environment, the enemy will fight to prevent U.S. forces from conducting surveillance. That means assets that are useful in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan—a Predator or Reaper—may not be useful over Iran or China because both states have the means to shoot them down. ISR data will therefore have to be gathered by penetrating stealth platforms: fifth-generation fighters, the USAF’s future LRS-B, or some sort of low-observable unmanned aircraft. Other options include using space or cyber assets. Another pressing concern in a communications degraded/denied environment is getting the data back to analysts so it may be processed—which may not be an easy task. That data will also have to be analyzed without overburdening intelligence personnel, as was the case over the past 10 years.

Contested Logistics and Sustainment

This area deals with establishing and defending supply lines during a conflict. Given the distances American forces operate from U.S. shores, logistics can an Achilles’ heel. A smart enemy will attack the logistical train that keeps U.S. forces at the front line going—via any number of methods, ranging from kinetic attacks on port facilities and airstrips to cyber attacks on DOD computers.

Contested Cyberspace Operations

Cyber warfare is the least transparent of military operations. The bulk of cyber is maintaining and securing existing communications networks. Offensive cyber operations—exploiting enemy computer networks to gain an equivalent affect from a so-called kinetic weapon—are closely guarded by the military. But cyber can also be used as means of gathering intelligence or feeding disinformation to the enemy. Without doubt, cyber will be one of the most important “battlefields” in future warfare, as U.S. forces are entirely dependent on networks to conduct operations.

Next Steps

The feedback from the ten mission areas —as part an “implementation master plan”—will get further evaluation in November, Foggo told USNI News.

The office will then, “bring individuals into D.C. as representatives of the combatant commands, the numbered fleets and the numbered air forces and sit down at the table and say, ‘Let’s put all this stuff out here on how we collate, how do we bring this together, how do we distribute and disseminate,’” Foggo said.

Primarily the interactions just now are not with the Pentagon’s combatant commanders, but to service offices that provide forces to the regional commands around the world. It’s up to those commands to decide which of the ten areas are the highest priority.

“They are not prioritized on purpose. We don’t see that as our role. That’s for them—the ones out in the field—to prioritize,” Foggo said.

“It’s going to vary by geographic location. Say you’re the [Central Command], you think about the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, what’s the most important thing? Maintaining access in the Strait of Hormuz. What’s the easiest way to shut it down? Clandestinely—probably with mines. Your priority in mine warfare might be higher than [Africa Command] commander’s priority or the [European Command] commander’s priority. It depends what the COMCOM is looking at.”

The hope for the Pentagon and the services is the ASBO will be able to improve skills and techniques in a low-cost method. As the office interacts with the services the best practices across the services will trickle down to the way they buy equipment and create and improve doctrine through a continued series of plans.

“It’s a living and breathing and evolving thing. This year the implementation will be ready in 2014, there will be another one the next year,” Foggo said. “The joint force has come together on how to operate in an anti-access environment so it’s just seamless.”

China threatens Japan with military action, while Obama admin. sends mixed signals

China-Japan ADIZs

Bill Gertz writes for The Free Beacon, Dec. 3, 2013:

China’s military ratcheted up tensions on Tuesday over its disputed East China Sea air defense zone by threatening military action against Japan and saying it would enforce new aircraft controls.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yangsheng accused Japan in a statement of “making trouble” and he warned Chinese military aircraft would enforce the newly imposed air defense identification zone, or ADIZ.

“Japan’s actions have seriously harmed China’s legitimate rights and security interests, and undermined the peace and stability in East Asia,” Geng said through the official Xinhua news agency. “China has to take necessary reactions.”

Geng listed a series of actions by Japan he said had increased tensions, including Tokyo’s frequent dispatch of ships and aircraft to areas near the disputed Senkaku islands, threats to shoot down Chinese drones, and overall escalation of regional tensions.

Without mentioning the United States, Geng also said other countries must “correct wrong remarks and wrongdoings,” he said. “Other parties should not be incited, or send wrong signals to make a very few countries go further on the wrong track, which will follow the same old disastrous road and undermine regional and world peace,” Geng said, insisting that China adheres to peaceful development and defensive policies.

The comments were the most forceful by a Chinese government spokesman since Beijing unilaterally declared the ADIZ that overlaps Japan’s air defense zone and covers the Senkakus, which China calls Diaoyu.

On Capitol Hill, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said the latest tensions highlight the administration’s “confusing and inconsistent messages” to Japan, a key ally.

The administration for months before China’s imposition of the air zone had said it was neutral in maritime disputes. It then belatedly backed Japan, invoking defense commitments under the U.S.-Japan defense treaty.

In an obvious attempt to placate China, the United States is sacrificing the assurance to our allies in the region that we are a reliable and steadfast security partner,” Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) said in a statement to the Free Beacon.

Inhofe noted that 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan defense treaty. “The belated invocation of our treaty obligation clearly falls well short of an appropriate response to this latest provocation by China that would be consistent with the spirit and intent of the treaty,” Inhofe said. “Unfortunately, this follows a pattern of fumbled reactions by the Obama administration in other regions of the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon also called the Chinese air zone “bullying” by China that risks a military miscalculation.

“I am glad to see that China’s blatantly aggressive actions aren’t affecting how the U.S. military conducts operations in the region, and I’m pleased to hear that U.S. military flight operations are continuing as planned,” McKeon said in a statement. “It’s important the United States stand with its long-time treaty ally, Japan, against this kind of international bullying,” McKeon said. “I encourage Vice President Biden to call on Beijing to retract this antagonist claim during his visit there later this week.”

In Tokyo, Vice President Joe Biden took a noticeably milder tone on the dispute with China than Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Biden will be in China on Wednesday, December 4, and Thursday, December 5. At a press conference with Biden, Abe said the United States and Japan “should not tolerate the attempt by China to change status quo unilaterally by force.”

Biden, in his remarks, said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about a potential conflict caused by the sudden imposition of the air defense zone. “This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation,” he said. “If you’ll forgive a personal reference, my father had an expression. He said, the only conflict that is worse than one that is intended is one that is unintended. The prospect for miscalculation mistake is too high,” Biden said.

Earlier, a senior Obama administration official briefing reporters on the Biden-Abe talks said the ADIZ imposition by China was “a provocative action, an uncoordinated action at a time when tensions were already running high. And that this is not the kind of thing that contributes to greater peace and security in Northeast Asia or in the Asia Pacific region.”

There also are concerns China will further increase tensions by announcing another air defense zone over the disputed South China Sea. Chinese government spokesman in recent days have not ruled out an ADIZ over that area, where Vietnam, Philippines, and other states are challenging China’s maritime claims over most of the sea.

At the Chinese Foreign Ministry, spokesman Hong Lei also called on Japan to “correct mistakes” on the air zone. Asked about U.S. government calls for the air zone to be rescinded, Hong said China would not back down. “The establishment of the East China Sea ADIZ falls within China’s sovereignty and is a necessary measure for the Chinese side to exercise its justifiable right of self-defense,” he said.

U.S. officials who briefed reporters in Tokyo also sought to backtrack on reports that the administration has urged U.S. airlines to recognize the Chinese ADIZ by issuing pre-flight plans to the Chinese. The New York Times said the administration urged airlines to follow the rules, a move that appeared to undercut Japan’s position that its airlines should not submit pre-flight plans for paths over the East China Sea.

One administration official said the Federal Aviation Administration did not direct airlines to follow Chinese flight rules but simply issued a guidance reiterating the long-standing practice that they respond to foreign notices to airmen.

Chinese propaganda organs uniformly published reports playing down the fact that the ADIZ is an effort by China to expand its power further from its coasts. Instead, state media and official spokesman sought to portray as a means of improving air safety or protecting Chinese airspace.

China’s Communist Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times, a booster of Chinese militarism, continued its recent inflammatory rhetoric on the East China Sea dispute. “The U.S.’s stance of feigning fairness while actually backing one side between China and Japan seems established, but if Biden’s tricks in Japan go too far, this will seriously affect the atmosphere of his next visit to China,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “The confidence of Chinese society is declining on whether the U.S. and Japan really have no intention to provoke a war in the western Pacific.”

Earlier on Nov. 27 Global Times warned that “maybe an imminent conflict will be waged between China and Japan.” “We should carry out timely countermeasures without hesitation against Japan when it challenges China’s newly-declared ADIZ,” the newspaper said. “If Tokyo flies its aircraft over the zone, we will be bound to send our plane to its ADIZ.” “If the trend continues, there will likely be frictions and confrontations and even tension in the air like in the Cold War era between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It is therefore an urgent task for China to further train its air force to make full preparation for potential conflicts.”

Meanwhile, in a sign that China is preparing to use the air defense zone for commercial benefit, China announced recently that it is creating a Deep Sea Base at the northern port of Qingdao that will be used to advance undersea gas and oil exploitation. The base will support China’s deep-sea oil and gas exploration through pier operations, equipment repair and maintenance, diver training, scientific research, and other functions for prospecting for undersea resources.

The disputed Senkakus are said to have vast undersea gas and oil deposits that both China and Japan are seeking to exploit but that so far have not tried to develop.

Former State Department official John Tkacik said Biden stopped well short of condemning China’s imposition of the air zone and instead offered the more diplomatic “deeply concerned” formulation.

“Japan is an ally, and China is at best, and adversary, and it is bad policy to attempt ‘neutrality’ when trying to reassure an ally,” Tkacik said in an email. “The United States administered Okinawa including the Senkaku Islands for 27 years from 1945 to 1972 under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and the United States returned Okinawa and the Senkakus to Japan under the terms of a formal treaty in 1972. So, it is disingenuous for the U.S. to claim that it has no position on Japan’s sovereignty in the Senkakus.”

Other states in the region also have voiced worries over China’s East China Sea controls. Philippines Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Chinese air zone threatens freedom of flight. “China’s East Asia Sea ADIZ transforms the entire air zone into its domestic airspace, infringes on the right to freedom of flight in international airspace and compromises the safety of civil aviation and national security of affected states,” state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Hernandez as saying.

The South Korean government said its airlines would not provide flight plans to China, as Beijing is demanding. “The flight path from Korea to Southeast Asia passes through the air defense identification zone announced by China, but we have told civilian airlines not to provide their flight plans to China just as they have done in the past,” an official at the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport said Dec. 2. “This route is approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and air defense identification zones have no standing in international law. It is our position that China cannot take any coercive action against civilian aircraft,” the official said, according to Hankyoreh Online.

Military sources in Taiwan said China’s next move in the East China Sea will be to challenge the middle line dividing China and Taiwan along the 100-mile wide Taiwan Strait. The newspaper Tzu-yu Shih-pao [Liberty Daily] quoted a high-ranking general Nov.  24 as saying China will press Taiwan to permit civilian flights to cross the middle line.

See also CODA’s previous posts on this subject:

China sends warplanes into disputed East China Sea air defense zone

China-Japan ADIZsChristopher Bodeen reports for the AP, Nov. 28, 2013, that days after the U.S., South Korea and Japan all sent flights through the airspace unilaterally declared last Saturday by China as its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), China today said it had sent warplanes into the ADIZ.

China’s ADIZ overlaps with Japan’s over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, the ownership of which is claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo.

China’s air force sent several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft on normal air patrols in the zone, the Xinhua agency reported, citing air force spokesman Shen Jinke. Shen described Thursday’s flights as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices.” He said China’s air force would remain on high alert and will take measures to protect the country’s airspace.

The report did not specify exactly when the flights were sent or whether they had encountered foreign aircraft. The United States, Japan and South Korea  said they have sent flights through the zone without yet encountering any Chinese response.

Analysts say Beijing’s motive in declaring the ADIZ is not to trigger an aerial confrontation but is a more long-term strategy to solidify claims to disputed territory by simply marking the area as its own.

China’s lack of efforts to stop the foreign flights – including two U.S. B-52s that flew through the zone on Tuesday – has been an embarrassment for Beijing. Even some Chinese state media outlets suggested Thursday that Beijing may have mishandled the episodes.

“Beijing needs to reform its information release mechanism to win the psychological battles waged by Washington and Tokyo,” the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily, said in an editorial.

Last Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, without prior notice, Beijing began demanding  that passing aircraft identify themselves and accept Chinese instructions or face consequences in an East China Sea zone that overlaps a similar air defense identification zone overseen by Japan since 1969 and initially part of one set up by the U.S. military.

But when tested just days later by U.S. B-52 flights – with Washington saying it made no effort to comply with China’s rules, and would not do so in the future – Beijing merely noted, belatedly, that it had seen the flights and taken no further action.

South Korea‘s military said Thursday its planes flew through the zone this week without informing China and with no apparent interference. Japan also said its planes have been continuing to fly through it after the Chinese announcement, while the Philippines, locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with Beijing over South China Sea islands, said it also was rejecting China’s declaration.

Analysts question China’s technical ability to enforce the zone due to a shortage of early warning radar aircraft and in-flight refueling capability. However, many believe that China has a long-term plan to win recognition for the zone with a gradual ratcheting-up of warnings and possibly also eventual enforcement action. All of which may wear down Japan and change the status quo.

The zone is seen primarily as China’s latest bid to bolster its claim over a string of uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea – known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Beijing has been ratcheting up its sovereignty claims since Tokyo’s privatization of the islands last year.

But the most immediate spark for the zone likely was Japan’s threat last month to shoot down drones that China says it will send to the islands for mapping expeditions, said Dennis Blasko, an Asia analyst at think tank CNA’s China Security Affairs Group and a former Army attache in Beijing.

China’s defense and foreign ministries offered no additional clarification Thursday as to why Beijing failed to respond to the U.S. Air Force flights. Alliance partners the U.S. and Japan together have hundreds of military aircraft in the immediate vicinity.

China on Saturday issued a list of requirements for all foreign aircraft passing through the area, regardless of whether they were headed into Chinese airspace, and said its armed forces would adopt “defensive emergency measures” against aircraft that don’t comply.

Beijing said the notifications are needed to help maintain air safety in the zone. However, the fact that China said it had identified and monitored the two U.S. bombers during their Tuesday flight seems to discredit that justification for the zone, said Rory Medcalf, director of the international security program at Australia’s Lowy Institute. “This suggests the zone is principally a political move,” Medcalf said. “It signals a kind of creeping extension of authority.”

Along with concerns about confrontations or accidents involving Chinese fighters and foreign aircraft, the zone’s establishment fuels fears of further aggressive moves to assert China’s territorial claims – especially in the hotly disputed South China Sea, which Beijing says belongs entirely to it.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun confirmed those concerns on Saturday by saying China would establish additional air defense identification zones “at an appropriate time.”

For now, however, China’s regional strategy is focused mostly on Japan and the island dispute, according to government-backed Chinese scholars. Shen Dingli, a regional security expert and director of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University, says China will continue piling the pressure on Tokyo until the latter reverses the decision to nationalize the islands, concedes they are in dispute, and opens up negotiations with Beijing.

Shen said, “China has no choice but to take counter measures. If Japan continues to reject admitting the disputes, it’s most likely that China will take further measures.”

Stung by criticisms, China increases aid to typhoon-ravaged Philippines from $100k to $1.6m

Merry

China is the second largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $13.374 trillion.

But its government offered a meager $100,000 in aid to the Philippines after the southeast Asian country had been devastated by Category 5 Super Typhoon Haiyan, which destroyed cities and towns, leaving millions homeless and at least 10,000 dead in the city of Tacloban alone.

After international groups and a Chinese newspaper, Global Times, criticized Beijing for its paltry donation, Jane Perlez reports for the New York Times that on Nov. 14, 2013, China said it would increase its aid — to $1.4 million in relief supplies, including tents and blankets, on top of $100,000 in cash from the government and another $100,000 from the Chinese Red Cross. Altogether, China’s aid to the Philippines totals a whopping [sarcasm alert] $1.6 million.

As pointed out by USA Today, the $1.6 million China now pledges to the Philippines is still less than the $2.7 million check written by the Swedish furniture store Ikea.

Just a day before, on Nov. 13, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang had stood firm on China’s first offer and said that one consideration in China’s initial announcement was that Chinese people had also suffered during Typhoon Haiyan. Chinese state media reported that eight people died in China when the tail end of the storm hit southern China.

The Chinese government’s stance was consistent with that of the Chinese populace as measured by an online poll on the Phoenix News website on Nov. 13, which showed that 95% of the 60,000 votes cast were against China donating to the Philippines.

China’s initially modest donation to the Philippines, where a huge international relief effort including deliveries of aid by American soldiers is underway, appeared to be based on the frosty relations between the two countries. In contrast, China pledged $1.5 million to Pakistan, its close ally, after an earthquake killed 500 people in September.

Territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea have poisoned relations between Beijing and Manila since early 2012, and the Philippines is taking its case against China to an international arbitration tribunal. The Philippines angered China this year by accepting a gift of naval vessels from Japan and by supporting Japan’s plans to strengthen its military.

Another factor in determining the initial size of the gift was the hostility among Chinese Internet commentators toward foreign aid, and to aid to the Philippines in particular, Chinese experts said.

A tally by international aid agencies on Nov. 14 showed that China’s new total of $1.6 million was roughly on par with Ireland ($1.4 million), Italy ($1.3 million) and Spain ($1.8 million). Australia promised $30 million; the United Kingdom offered $16 million; Japan and United Arab Emirates each pledged $10 million.

The United States pledged $20 million. Along with the distribution of water purification kits, food and emergency shelter, the U.S. also dispatched the George Washington aircraft carrier to the Philippines with 80 aircraft and 5,000 troops on board. Two U. S. Navy ships arrived in advance of the carrier on Thursday.

UPDATE (Nov. 23, 2013):

The government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has donated US$200,000 to the Philippines and sent 18 sorties of military cargo planes filled with 130 metric tons of relief supplies worth about US$2.7 million. (Source)

Malaysia to build naval base near James Shoal, also claimed by China

South China SeaMalaysia is joining other countries to resist China’s irredentist claims over the South China Sea.

EastAsiaIntel.com reports that “normally reticent Malaysia” is joining its neighbors in pushing back against Beijing’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Malaysian government has recently sped up its measures against China by announcing the establishment of a Marine force and a naval base near a site claimed by China. The dispute centers on James Shoal, merely 80 miles off the coast of Malaysia, yet more than 1,100 miles away from China.

Rowan Callick reports for The Australian, Oct. 23, 2013, that the new Malaysian naval base will be about 100km from James Shoal, which is also claimed by China.

In March, China’s navy conducted a substantial exercise at the shoal, off the coast of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on northern Borneo, described by analyst Gary Li as “not just a few ships here and there, but a crack amphibious landing ship carrying marines and hovercraft and backed by some of the best escort ships in the PLAN fleet. We’ve never seen anything like this that far south in terms of quantity or quality.”

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammudin Tun Hussein said the Royal Malaysian Navy would set up a base at Bintulu in Sarawak to protect the region, and national oil and gas reserves. He also said Malaysia would establish its first marine battalion, to be drawn from army, navy and air force elements, but with the core to come from parachutists.

Malaysia is setting up this marine battalion in part to counter future incursions from militant supporters of the ancient Sultanate of Sulu, who have attempted to re-establish an independent state on an archipelago between Mindanao in the southern Philippines, and the Malaysian state of Sabah.

The Malaysian government has discussed with the US support for the establishment of its new marine force, chiefly involving training including personnel exchanges, as well as the sale of some equipment that is becoming surplus as Afghanistan operations wind down.

According to IHS Jane’s newsletter, Malaysia is also holding talks with France and South Korea for the purchase of an attack helicopter for marine use, as well as a replacement for its only amphibious ship, which was destroyed by fire four years ago.

Only six weeks ago, Mr Hishammudin said he was not concerned about how often Chinese ships patrolled the areas it claims in the South China Sea. “If their intention is not to go to war, it is not of much concern,” he said. “I think we have enough level of trust that we will not be moved by day-to-day politics or emotions.”