Research Paper: China vs. ASEAN in the South China Sea

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China and U.S. Naval Competition

China's New Growing and Aggressive Navy: Friend of Foe?

The spurn in the development of the Chinese Navy, over the last ten years, as well as Chinese activities in the South China Sea has created cause for concern in many areas. The diplomatic, trade and military arenas in the U.S., the traditional watchdog of the region of sea, as well as nations bordering the area and in competition with China are all surprised by China's rapid naval development and in a curious state of ignorance about China's military in general. The concerns continue on an almost daily basis as China's non-traditional aggression in the area seems to be growing as rapidly as her capacity to enforce her will. The U.S. And other nations feel as if they have been left in the dark and most importantly would like to be let into the light with regard to China's intentions in the region and its overall military in general. This may see an unquenchable risk, but relations between the nations have not been strained, as the U.S. continues to maintain neutrality. This work will discuss the nature of the growth of the Chinese Navy, the nature of her recent actions in the region, the developing mistrust and competition between the U.S. And China and finally argue in favor of open door diplomacy between the nations with regard to intentions and military might. I would argue that open door diplomacy may not change the desires of either party, but it will likely reassert the duel need and intention for the maintenance of security in the region and reassert mutual interest in maintaining safe waters in a peaceful and cooperative manner.

According to many who keep their fingers on the pulse of the issue of international militarization and military capabilities a storm is brewing in the area of the South China Sea. The issues at hand are strongly seated in the fact that this region is a lifeline of international sea trade and travel and it is an area where the U.S. has dominated as the main peace keeper in these international waters, despite historical land and sea disputes. (Odgaard) The importance of these international waters is essential in a myriad of ways, ways which benefit all nations, given the excessive amount of trade that occurs through the region and that passes through the South China Sea.

"Generally, there are two factors that contribute to the American posture towards the South China Sea. The first is the overall direction and climate of Sino-U.S. relations. The second is the U.S.' fundamental interest of maintaining free access to the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the South China Sea." (Mingliang and Fang)

Mingliang and Fang also note that it is in the best interests of all nations that the way remain clear and thee U.S. maintain neutrality in the resolution of territorial issues regarding the region as the U.S. capacity for response, as compared to China's in both traditional and non-traditional crisis is far greater than China's regardless of her personal interests and fears. (Mingliang and Fang)

Though other nations in the region Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have historically upheld modest coastal naval resources, some of these nations are seeking to both increase their own naval capabilities and ask the U.S. To continue to maintain naval control over the region:

"Countries in the region have responded with their own acquisitions, said Carlyle A. Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy. In December, Vietnam signed an arms deal with Russia that included six Kilo-class submarines, which would give Vietnam the most formidable submarine fleet in Southeast Asia. Last year, Malaysia took delivery of its first submarine, one of two ordered from France, and Singapore began operating one of two Archer-class submarines bought from Sweden." (Wong)

The change of behavior and field of view, with regard to the Chinese navy has many nations, not the least of which is the U.S., registering grave concerns about the future peace of the region. Though most are clear that China's actions are fundamentally self protective, and in the interest of the peace, they are hardly a neutral player in the region, still occupying and controlling previously sovereign nations of Tibet and Taiwan, long after colonial interests have been abandoned by most western nations, and calling these nations "core interests." This statement to some implies, "sovereignty over international waters." (Gates on China: Speaking the truth makes the Pacific a safer place) This implication does not sit well with many, nor do the minor but telling events that have abounded the Chinese Naval expansion.

China has traditionally sought to only have the capabilities to protects its shores and a minimal distance into the ocean from them, with the traditional standard 200 nautical mile economic exclusivity zone, it has now begun to expand its capabilities at a rapid rate to secure the whole of the South China sea region and beyond, with its own naval might, in what it calls a long-range strategy to protect its "core interests." (Shimbum) (Wong) U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently spoke on the issue and he has a great deal of support in doing so:

"The South China Sea is an area of growing concern," Mr. Gates told fellow defense officials Saturday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The U.S. supports "stability, freedom of navigation, and free and unhindered economic development," and the Pentagon objects to "any effort to intimidate U.S. corporations or those of any nation engaged in legitimate economic activity." (Gates on China: Speaking the truth makes the Pacific a safer place)

The biggest concern for most nations currently is that the Chinese deployments that have taken place in and around the South China Sea have sometimes ended in moderate acts of aggression toward both other nations and civilians doing legitimate business in the area.

"The United States and China engaged in a naval spat in the South China Sea in March last year, leading to the U.S. Defense Department's formal protest that a Chinese intelligence ship and four others shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to a U.S. Navy vessel on the high seas. China responded by saying the U.S. ship was operating in China's exclusive economic zone in violation of the relevant international and Chinese laws. In an apparent sign that the country is intent on securing its maritime interests and projecting force in the region and beyond, the Chinese military is building a naval base on Hainan, an island in the South China Sea, for nuclear submarines capable of firing ballistic missiles. China "apparently found it necessary to show its resolute will to preserve its maritime interests," a source informed about military affairs said of the addition of the South China Sea to China's list of core interests." (China tells U.S. that'd. China Sea is 'core interest' in new policy)

The controversy then rages as small more isolated skirmishes continue to add up around the area, as fishermen are arrested in previously undisputed international waters, as well as other examples of concern. Chinese response to the incident with the U.S. And others has been to attempt to expand the internationally recognized standards of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic rights boundaries of a nation:

"The United States and China have clashing definitions of such zones, defined by a United Nations convention as waters within 200 nautical miles of a coast. The United States says international law allows a coastal country to retain only special commercial rights in the zones, while China contends the country can control virtually any activity within them." (Wong)

The challenge of this varied definition of economic control zones as well as the fundamental skirmishes associated with the Chinese Naval activities has created diplomatic concerns about future international negotiations and conferences. (Kate) In addition the growing problem of Chinese Naval interactions are creating the need for regional nations to reiterate their desire for the U.S. To maintain control of the area to retain international control and peace. "Last fall, during a speech in Washington, Lee Kuan Yew, the former Singaporean leader, reflected widespread anxieties when he noted China's naval rise and urged the United States to maintain its regional presence. "U.S. core interest requires that it remains the superior power on the Pacific," he said. "To give up this position would diminish America's role throughout the world." (Wong) These sentiments have been echoed by other nations in the area, who are extremely concerned about the new Chinese show of force and its growing naval presence.

China has also registered its own concerns about U.S. naval actions in the region as it challenged U.S. sovereignty in the joint naval mission with South Korea in the Yellow Sea. While others contend that that China's distaste with regard to U.S. involvement in the area is in response to China's concern over recent U.S. sales of weapons to Taiwan. Yet, while the U.S. And South Korea… [END OF PREVIEW]

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China vs. ASEAN in the South China Sea.  (2010, July 31).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/china-asean-south-sea/528021

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"China vs. ASEAN in the South China Sea."  Essaytown.com.  July 31, 2010.  Accessed June 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/china-asean-south-sea/528021.