Saturday, September 15, 2012

Capitalism - A war fear system

China and the US seem to be on a collision course in the Pacific. Beijing is significantly bolstering its navy, and Washington is shifting its military focus to the Asia-Pacific Region. Many fear it could alter the balance of power in a region rich in oil and crucial for global trade. It is difficult to overstate the economic and military importance of the South China Sea, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Over half the annual tonnage of all the world's merchant navies is shipped through adjacent sea routes here, and the region sees a third of the world's maritime traffic. Eighty percent of China's crude oil imports pass through here, and the seafloor holds an estimated 130 billion barrels of crude oil and 9.3 trillion cubic meters (328 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas.  A US congressional study published on August suggests that the United States considers the modernization of China's navy an aggressive act. According to the study, Beijing is by no means simply trying to protect its trade routes and its citizens abroad but, rather, is determined to assert its territorial claims, push back the US' influence in the Pacific and underline its status as a global military power

In the West Pacific, tensions have been rising for months. Beijing is in a dispute with Manila over the Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited rocky atoll, most of which is only above sea level at low tide. This May, Washington quietly negotiated a compromise in which ships from both China and the Philippines would withdraw from the region. Since then, however, the Chinese navy has blocked off the lagoon and its excellent fishing waters and once again sent ships to patrol the area.

At the same time, China is at odds with Japan over another uninhabited island group -- known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese -- located near a key shipping lane between Taiwan and Okinawa. In August, activists from Hong Kong hoisted a Chinese flag on one of the islands, triggering a wave of patriotic enthusiasm on the mainland. Tension over these islands flared up once again this week after it was announced Tuesday that the government in Tokyo had purchased the islands from a Japanese family. On Friday, six Chinese maritime patrol vessels reportedly entered into Japanese-controlled waters around the islands and remained there for two hours despite warnings from a Japanese vessel.

China also snubbed its neighbor Vietnam this June by establishing a city on the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Hanoi, as are the Spratly Islands further to the south. At the same time, Beijing began building a military garrison on the Paracel Islands. This latest step makes it clear that China is laying claim to nearly the entire South China Sea, an area of nearly 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) that American strategists refer to as the "cow's tongue" owing to its peculiar shape.

"All of the trends, demographic trends, geopolitical trends, economic trends and military trends, are shifting toward the Pacific. So our strategic challenges in the future will largely emanate out of the Pacific region," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey when laying out the US' new defense strategy together with President Barack Obama this January. Obama has declared a strategic "pivot" of US military strategy to the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, the Pacific is more important to the US' future than Europe or the NATO territory along the coasts of the Atlantic. Obama traveled to Australia last year to personally announce plans for a new US Marine base there, and his administration has plans for conducting joint The 7th Fleet stationed in Japan and Guam, is already the US Navy's largest and strongest force, with more than 60 warships and around 40,000 personnel. In the coming years, it will be expanded even further so that, by 2020, some 60 percent of all American warships will be stationed in the Pacific -- more than in the Atlantic and also more than in the Persian Gulf, which has been considered the US Navy's main focus in recent decades.maneuvers with Vietnam as well as for setting up ultra-modern equipment in Japan as part of a missile defense system for Asia.

China has, among other things, developed ballistic anti-ship missiles that are the first capable of striking aircraft carriers that were previously considered more or less unassailable. In military jargon, these missiles are known as "carrier killers. China has also launched three nuclear submarines of its own design that are capable of firing nuclear-armed intercontinental missiles. The country also wants at least two aircraft carriers of its own construction.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

Huge anti-Japan protests took place in China today. The source of tension: A small chain of uninhabited islands claimed by both countries.These demos are almost certainly sanctioned by the government, since public protests are tightly controlled