Thursday, March 2, 2017

War Cycle is On by Erick San Juan

War Cycle is On by Erick San Juan

“Territorial disputes, coupled with Beijing’s increased militarization of the South China Sea, may sway US policymakers to believe that military conflict with China is inevitable. However, such a conflict is avoidable if the US chooses its policy carefully and implements a strategy that all but eliminates military action.” (Source: Michael Brady, Asia Times online)

Yes, it is still avoidable but for how long can the delay be if Beijing is very firm and confident that nothing can stop them for fortifying the disputed areas in the South China Sea. And according to Brady, the main reason for such actions by China are the resources that are found in the SCS.

The South China Sea is rich with natural resources. According to the US Geological Survey, 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas can be found in the hotly disputed region. The Chinese, however, indicate the area may hold more than 200 billion barrels of oil and up to 750 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Regardless of the exact quantity, these estimates are the primary reason Beijing continues to assert its claim over the region. For China to continue its economic initiatives, unrestricted access to oil and gas remains a national priority.

In addition, 12% of the world’s fish catch is in the South China Sea. Since China consumes about 25% of all seafood globally, it’s no wonder it continues to claim vast swaths of the region and insists its fisherman have the right to catch there.”

So if these vast resources will feed the entire population of China for years to come, the comments of Tillerson and Bannon will make China angry.

What was not told in public were the rare earth metals newly found in the Philippines like Palladium, etc. plus the vast natural gas reserve at Benham Rise near the Pacific.

“At a recent US Senate confirmation hearing, now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops. And second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” Tillerson’s comment clearly indicate that President Donald Trump and his administration are willing to use military force if Chinese activities continue. This comment is similar in tone to Steve Bannon’s during a podcast in March 2016 when he stated, “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years.” (Bannon is now senior adviser to President Trump.)

Trump and his national-security team need to understand that China’s claim are primarily driven by the need for resources, not sovereignty. According to recent reports, China’s population will reach approximately 1.4 billion by 2020. As China’s population continues to increase, demand for resources such as fisheries and oil will rise. China’s inability to feed its population in the future may ultimately lead to conflict, with or without US intervention.” (Ibid)

If it’s going to be the US alone that can stop China for grabbing territories in order to take resources to sustain its growing population then so it be. A need that is very basic to humanity but China should also consider the needs of its neighbors so that it will be a win-win solution to every nation in the region.

For Prof. Richard Javad Heydarian’s observation, he writes : “US-China rivalry in the South China Sea is ringing alarm bells in littoral Southeast Asian nations, with fears rising that Donald Trump’s administration could tilt the region’s delicate balance towards conflict.

China has recently expanded its strategic footprint on various disputed features, deploying new weapons systems and establishing advanced military facilities on artificially reclaimed islands in both the Spratly and Paracel chains.

Trump’s administration has indicated it views China’s action as a direct challenge to freedom of navigation and overflight in one of the world’s most important sea lines of trade and communications, and a challenge to American strategic primacy in the Western Pacific.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested during his confirmation hearing that the US could impose a naval blockade on China’s artificial islands in the Spratlys. The threat was followed by this week’s deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the South China Sea as part of so-called “routine operations” in the area.

Washington’s deployment of the USS Carl Vinson, accompanied by an armada of warships, was a clear signal that neither will America sit by idly as the strategic balance shifts. The last time America showed such force in the South China Sea was in early 2016, when there were concerns of imminent Chinese reclamation activity on the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal.

That was under the pro-US Philippine President Benigno Aquino administration, which was replaced last July by the at least outwardly more China-friendly Duterte. China’s growing military prowess, its putting pressure on America to develop a stronger naval presence in the region, with power projection capabilities at nearby bases, particularly at Subic and Oyster Bay in the Philippines.

But without stronger engagement and clearer messaging under Trump, it is not clear if those or other regional facilities will be available when America most needs them.”

Not only under US President Donald Trump that should have clearer messaging but most especially our very own President Rody Duterte, because our country can be used by China as its springboard in accomplishing its claim in the SCS and Taiwan in the process to achieve Pres. Xi Jinping's China dream. The current administration of Pres. Duterte allowed it in his belief and in order to avoid conflict for obvious reason that we don’t have the capability to go to war with China.

In order not to tilt the balance towards creating a regional conflict that may end up into a global war in the process, leaders of nation and all the other stakeholders should sit down and talk, after all diplomacy should be on the top of the list to straighten up misunderstandings. In so doing miscalculation will be avoided.

But the Chinese missiles being deployed in the nearby reefs and the perceived war cycle is on and predicted to go all hell by the third quarter of this year is really worrisome.

May God forbid!

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