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China Warns “Armed Confrontation” with the United States

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As the United States takes a more relaxed stand toward China, sidestepping just discovered support of the North Korean weapons program, China has taken an increasingly belligerent position in its ongoing intimidation, which focuses on complete domination of the South China Sea. Now China has taken a new step, suggesting the possibility of “armed confrontation” in retaliation for US interference. This threat coincides with US military exercises in a distant section of the South China Sea and scheduled exercises within the contested region.

China has insisted for decades that the area in question, in fact all of the South China Sea, is historically the dominion of China. They point to artifacts and historical truths to support that claim. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei have competing claims to various parts of the waters, including the potentially resource-rich Spratly islands, the Paracel Island area and adjacent waters. In fact the documentation of the claims of these nations is weak and unenforceable. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), comprised of ten nations, has only an agreement from 1982 (1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Part 5, Article 55) and reaffirmed in 2002 to make their claim. That agreement stresses such ideals as “The promotion of a peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment” and “mutual trust between the two sides” and emphasizes hopes that the parties concerned “undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Sunday called upon other nations to take a stand against Chinese aggressiveness. “Since the freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce in the [South China Sea] are of great import to many nations, all should consider what China is endeavoring to do in the Scarborough Shoal,” del Rosario said. “All, not just the Philippines, will be ultimately negatively affected if we do not take a stand.” Secretary del Rosario maintains that the Chinese claim to the area is “clearly baseless.”

China’s Liberation Army Daily warned that with the continuation of military exercises the situation could boil over into outright conflict. That warning placed the blame for any conflict on the US administration.

In the words of the Chinese newspaper:

Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force. Through this kind of meddling and intervention, the United States will only stir up the entire South China Sea situation towards increasing chaos, and this will inevitably have a massive impact on regional peace and stability.


On June 2, 2011, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs sent a message to the Chinese embassy protesting activities of Chinese vessels, citing repeated incidents of Chinese aircraft and naval vessels entering Philippine territory and taking provocative acts, including the use of naval gunfire, against unarmed fishing vessels.

On June 9, in a second incident, a net from a Chinese fishing boat became entangled in the cables of a Vietnamese oil exploring vessel. That vessel dragged the Chinese fishermen in excess of one hour, until the Chinese cut the net. Prior to the entanglement, according to the crew of the Vietnamese vessel, the fishing boat “intentionally rammed” the Vietnamese ship in a premeditated and carefully calculated attack. China saw the incident differently; the Chinese accused Vietnam of “gravely violating” its sovereignty, and endangering Chinese lives. China went on to warn Vietnam to stop all “invasive activities”.

Now, on April 8, 2012, the Philippines sent a warship to arrest the crews of eight Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. China responded with three civilian maritime vessels that effectively blocked the warship. China has since refused to withdraw from that region, calling for a retreat by the Philippine navy.

Retired Philippine Navy Commodore and analyst Rex Robles in late 2011 indicated his belief that, “Even if we are three times more prepared than we are now, we [would be] defeated because China… can blow us out of the water easily.” But, he insists, a war with China would be costly to all involved, “If war breaks out there, China’s development will also be stunted,” he told reporters, “China’s resources are quite huge, but maybe not enough to sustain a war there.”

Not broached in current coverage of these developments, but possibly linked, is the North Korean failed missile launch that was originally planned to fly directly over the Philippine Islands.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • TwinMirrors

    Philippines needs China more than they could care to admit. It’s time for China to establish its own interests and care for its own people. Why should China be responsible for all of asia? She knows she has enough on her plate. Invasion of all of Asia, my ass

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    I’d have thought China could more usefully occupy itself with using its wealth to improve the lot of its many people and starting to do more to protect the environment and wildlife.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Agreed. It would make no sense for China, riding an unprecedented wave of prosperity which has in fact improved the lot of most of its people, to risk blowing all of that wealth on an expensive Asia/Pacific war. Especially since it knows that, if the United States and India were to be dragged in, it would have a very good chance of losing.

    It also knows, as does Mr Robles, that none of its neighbours (with the exception of North Korea, which it humours carefully) poses any threat. As long as it doesn’t get carried away with its sabre-rattling, therefore, it and the region will be fine.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I agree strongly with Doc. China will not risk an outright military conflict when the U.S. is likely to get drawn in – not only because they’re likely to lose, but also because of how important we and Europe are to their economy. The Chinese know quite well that if they were to get into a shooting conflict with America or its close allies, its economy will tank, because their export market is FAR more important to their economy than it is to our economy.

    So…no, I’m not worried. However, if I were President Noynoy Aquino of the Philippines, I’d offer to cede all claims on the Spratly Islands region in exchange for preferential consideration for the logistic needs of any industrial efforts China makes in that region, because the Philippines simply doesn’t have the industrial wherewithal to exploit the gas and oil in the Spratlys.

  • Igor

    You can’t appease the Chinese shark. I’m against ‘cedeing’ anything to China without extracting a big price.

    IMO we have to keep diplomatic and strategic spurs into China. There will be no peace for a long long time, and we delude ourselves if we think concessions will improve things. Buckle up and be prepared for a long battle.

  • Clav

    You can’t appease the Chinese shark. I’m against ‘cedeing’ [sic] anything to China without extracting a big price.

    IMO we have to keep diplomatic and strategic spurs into China. There will be no peace for a long long time, and we delude ourselves if we think concessions will improve things. Buckle up and be prepared for a long battle.


  • zingzing

    china will suck ours as long as we suck theirs. it’s mutually beneficial. we’re not going to get into any sort of battle but a thrusting thing where we see who gags on each others money/stuff first. there may be some sabre-rattling, but that’s just junk. cash balms all wounds.

    go ahead, hate china. nobody cares.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    China’s big, smart, and has political will that we don’t have…but I’m not worried about them. Why? Because China’s got a set of problems that we don’t have.

    1. Their huge army is necessary not so much for India or Russia, but to quell unrest in the nation, particularly in the Xinjiang region where much of the indigenous population are Muslim Uighurs.

    2. Their one-child-only policy has combined with the officially-banned but oft-practiced gender-based abortions to the point where there are already millions more men than women, and the disparity is still growing. Too many men and not enough women never bodes well for anything but conflict.

    3. The rising Chinese standard of living – while still much below that of First World nations – has resulted in rising labor costs to the point where companies are starting to ONshore jobs back to America…and America’s exports have risen 34% in the past two years.

    4. Try as the Chinese might, their internet’s Great Firewall won’t hold forever…and information will spread.

    5. And the Chinese don’t dare openly militarily challenge our allies, for if they do, even if they were somehow able to overcome our Navy, their economy could not withstand the loss of its export markets to America and Europe.

    In other words, China’s got problems of their own and all the posturing in the world won’t change that fact.

  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Frivolous D

    It is always in our best interests to watch them closely but saber rattling in China is more of a sport.

    I agree with the previous comments that any aggression with a US ally would be economically disastrous for China. There is an old saying: “If you owe the bank a thousand dollars, the bank owns you. But if you owe the bank a million dollars, you own the bank.” (Adjust for inflation.)

    In addition to the fact that China cannot afford to tamper with it’s current cash cow, a huge portion of their wealth is being reinvested throughout the world, especially throughout Europe, rather than staying in China. At the first sign of serious belligerence, those assets will freeze up and will be mighty hard to spend.

    Cap that with the already mentioned trade sanctions and, as an economy, China would just shut down.

  • http://www.lunch.com/JSMaresca-Reviews-1-1.html Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    China has had historic problems migrating the success of the coastal areas inward to the many yurts and small farming areas. Flooding and earthquakes have been very problematic.

    China still needs American knowhow to manage its many internal problems successfully in practically every area of expertise. i.e.
    o Accounting and Engineering Standards
    o Management Sciences
    o Municipal Governance and Systems
    o Disaster Recovery and Planning

    I could go on and on infinitum.

  • Franco

    sidestepping just discovered support of the North Korean weapons program, China has taken an increasingly belligerent position in its ongoing intimidation, which focuses on complete domination of the South China Sea.

    This just in

    Monday, April 23, 2012 9:21 AM EDT
    North Korean military warns of ‘special actions’ soon – The Associated Press

    PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) – North Korea promised Monday to reduce South Korea’s conservative government “to ashes” in less than four minutes, in an unusually specific escalation of recent threats aimed at its southern rival.

    North Korea’s military vowed in its statement to begin “special actions” soon against the government and conservative media companies that would “reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, (or) in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”

    North Korea regularly criticizes Seoul and just last week renewed its promise to wage a “sacred war,” saying South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had insulted the North’s April 15 celebrations of the birth centennial of national founder Kim Il Sung.
    But Monday’s message, distributed by the state-run Korean Central News Agency and attributed to the Korean People’s Army’s Supreme Command, was unusual in promising something soon and in describing a specific period of time.

  • John Lake

    Loss of Face can be a serious matter.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    North Korea’s latest drivel isn’t much of a departure from their usual MO, except that it sounds even more like an outburst from a petulant teenager – which, is, essentially, who their new leader is.

  • Clav

    North Korea’s latest drivel isn’t much of a departure from their usual MO, except that it sounds even more like an outburst from a petulant teenager – which, is, essentially, who their new leader is.

    True. Ever met a teen you could trust with nukes?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    No, and neither, I suspect, has the North Korean politburo.

    Kim Jong-Un is just a figurehead, most observers seem to feel.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    True. Ever met a teen you could trust with nukes?

    Frankly, there’s many, many people here within the U.S. that shouldn’t be trusted with any weapon whatsoever. But then, this thread’s not about gun control. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    But on a different topic, Clavos, care to comment on the links I provided concerning the growing ONshoring of jobs and the 34% rise in exports in the past two years in comment #8? Just wondering….

  • John Lake

    I haven’t seen any evidence that Kim Jong-Un is in any way a figurehead; his grandfather is seen as a divine being. He has the full and absolute support of his family who are in power, and the military. The people will prostrate themselves as he walks by.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Re #17, according to this article in the Chosun Ilbo,

    North Koreans feel new leader Kim Jong-un is getting above his station by having himself appointed first secretary of the Workers Party by the country’s rubber-stamp parliament earlier this month, a South Korean official claimed Sunday.

    “In North Korea, first secretary stands above all other secretaries,” the official said. “North Koreans are saying that Kim Jong-un has risen to a higher position than his father and are whispering that it is immoral of him to do that.”

    In the North, any title with “first” in it is considered extremely eminent. Kim Jong-il was general secretary of the party.

    The official claimed this sentiment is shared by some North Korean party and military officials. But the source added that this is an extremely sensitive issue and nobody dare discuss it publicly.

    North Korea is a black hole from which little light emerges and what does is refracted, reflected and filtered. Knowing what the “people” of North Korea may think is impossible for those of us from a western culture. Still, the point is worth considering for what it may be worth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan M. –

    One wonders how long it will be before one or more of the generals in NK decide to replace the newest Kim. What’s going to be most interesting from a sociological standpoint is watching the eyes of the North Koreans when they see how far South Korea and the rest of the world has left them behind.

  • John Lake

    Contrarian truly believes his POV. (That’s Point of View). But as I said in 17, and regardless of what Dan(Miller) found in 18, I just don’t agree. Kim Jong-Un has a brother and a powerful sister whose husband is also very influential. There is the military to consider, but they likely favor the man who musters the troops and authorizes the expenditures for weapons. Kim is not in danger of replacement by any organized conspiracy.