samedi 31 décembre 2016


Free trade advocates claim it promotes peace, but it has the opposite effect.

Donald Trump’s telephone call with the president of Taiwan shortly after he won the vote to become the next president of the U.S. caused a diplomatic stir
Some attributed it to Trump’s ignorance of diplomatic protocol—which is to officially ignore the existence of a Taiwanese government that’s independent of the mainland. 
Others speculated that it signaled a radical shift in U.S. government policy in Asia as a whole.
The president has a long history of impetuous behavior, but this exchange with President Tsai Ing-wen was over 20 years in the making. 
Tension between the U.S. and Chinese governments has emerged and intensified as China’s economic might has grown. 
Trump’s recent appointment of Peter Navarro, a polemical critic of China, as his adviser on industrial policy demonstrates that the call to Taiwan was no gaffe of a novice.
So Trump’s insult is not out of the blue. 
He was the messenger, but the source of the message lies in the reality of liberalized trade. 
As the U.S. and China shall demonstrate, four decades of reducing regulations on commerce between countries results in the opposite—trade liberalization leads to trade wars.

The free trade scam

Advocates of liberalizing global trade argue that the “free” movement of goods yields benefits to all trading countries, promoting peace, harmony and cooperation. 
This argument has long been made. 
British politician Norman Angell made the same case that trade among countries fosters peace among them in the early 20th century in his book The Great Illusion
Just four years after it was published, the bloodiest war in human history began, fought among countries closely integrated through trade.
The benign story of free trade was wrong in the 20th century and it is still wrong in the 21st. 
Its fallacy is basic and simple—not all countries do gain from trade
On the contrary, among countries as within countries there are winners and losers, because market competition is a malign force.
The overwhelming majority of international trade occurs among corporate giants. 
Because of their size and political influence, economics and politics go together in the competitive struggle. 
Far from a benign process that brings cheap products to the consumer, global competition generates cross-country tension as giant corporations enlist their political allies in the fight for market access.

The reality

A country cannot maintain economic stability and continuous trade deficits. 
An excess of imports over exports implies a rising external debt by the public or private sector or both. 
A government can service this in its own currency by borrowing from its central bank (in effect, borrowing from itself). 
But this type of self-financing is not possible for the debt held in foreign currency.
As external debts increase, the cost of servicing them rises. 
Because the debtor must pay the creditor in international currency, foreign debt accumulation at some point requires that exports grow to close the trade deficit.
Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has enjoyed a unique advantage because the dollar has functioned as the most accepted currency for international exchange. 
Governments of other countries hold U.S. dollars “in reserve” to clear their outstanding international obligations. 
Plus, the U.S. dollar is typically viewed by businesses and governments as the safest depository for idle funds.
These motivations for foreigners to hold dollars mean that the U.S. government can accumulate an external debt far larger than any other government. 
But even for the U.S,, debt accumulation has a limit.
Trade with China is shifting that limit from possibility to reality. 
Since China opened up its economy in the 1980s, Chinese exports to the U.S. have grown from a modest U.S. $14 billion in 1989 to almost U.S. $500 billion in 2015. 
U.S. exports to China, meanwhile, grew by considerably less, reaching a peak of U.S. $164 billion in 2014 (for details see US Department of Commerce).
As a result, the U.S. trade deficit with China has risen to an annual average of well over U.S. $300 billion during 2011-2015
For the last decade, the negative balance with China accounted for more than half of the U.S. trade deficit when we exclude petroleum (as shown in the upper part of the chart below).
With a surplus so large, it comes as no surprise that China holds 15% of U.S. public debt not held by U.S. government agencies.
Since the early 2000s, the ratio of the U.S. trade deficit to GDP has exceeded the rate of growth of the economy. 
As long as this is the case, foreign debt will grow faster than the economy as a whole. Unprecedentedly low yields on public bonds—close to 0 percent—have kept the cost of servicing foreign debt manageable.
However, the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has warned of several interest rate increases for 2017. 
Should U.S. bond rates return to more typical levels in the range of 2-4 percent and the trade deficit persist where it has been for the last five years (3-4 percent of GDP), the combination would threaten the stability of the dollar and the U.S. economy itself.

Political consequences

Trade imbalances generate trade wars, which are initiated by governments when those imbalances threaten domestic economic and political stability. 
The U.S. trade deficit results from the combination of many factors. 
One of the more important ones is the domestic law that has facilitated the relocation of manufacturing abroad.
The non-sustainability of the U.S. trade deficit helps us understand the foreign policy of President Trump. 
First, substantial success in narrowing the U.S. trade deficit requires reducing the imbalance with China. 
In the short and medium-term, that means import restrictions, with the implied political conflict. Trump’s telephone call with the president of Taiwan is a signal to China of an intent to intensify that conflict.
Second, having alienated one great power, Trump needs a counter-balancing ally.
Russia is the obvious candidate. 
The person designated to be U.S. Secretary of State is a professed admirer of the Russian president, as is Trump himself.
The combination of conflict with China and friendship with Russia lay the ground for a return to a world order in which states seek to establish exclusive control over specific areas or “spheres of influence”
Whether or not that happens, it is clear that the neoliberal economic dream of a harmonious world of free-flowing trade was a fleeting fantasy, inconsistent with the reality of global economic and political competition.

Beijing Pathetic Monologue: China repeats call to block President Tsai's transit in US.

Tsai Ing-wen will visit Houston and San Francisco on her way to and from Latin America
By Nandini Krishnamoorthy
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured speaking to US President Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan) might meet Trump in January during her trip to three Central American nations
Taiwan announced its President Tsai Ing-wen's itinerary for US where she will transit through Houston and San Francisco on her way to visit allies in Latin America in January, her office said on Friday (30 December). 
The announcement has prompted Beijing to repeat calls to the US to block Tsai's stopover.
Tsai will arrive in Houston on 7 January and leave the following day. 
On her way back, after visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, she will visit San Francisco on 13 January, presidential office spokesman Alex Huang told daily news briefing.
Tsai's office denied commenting on whether she would be meeting President Donald Trump's transition team while she is in the US. 
However, the US mission in the self-governing island, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said her visit would be "private and unofficial".
"President Tsai's transit through the United States is based on long-standing US practice and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan," Alys Spensley, acting AIT spokeswoman, told Reuters.
The already troubled China-US ties were further strained following Tsai's phone call to Trump earlier this month that resulted in Beijing in casting doubt on the incoming president and his administration's commitment to 'one China' principle.
China's Foreign Ministry repeated calls to stop Tsai from transiting through America and warned the US to not send any "wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces".
"We think everyone is very clear on her real intentions," Reuters cited the ministry as saying, without explaining.
Speaking to the members of parliament on Friday (30 December), Xi Jinping stressed the communist country would make "unremitting efforts" at unification and development of peaceful ties across the Taiwan Strait, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, Tsai assured on Saturday (31 December) that her country will remain "calm" when dealing with issues concerning China, however, she warned of uncertainties in 2017 that could test Taiwan's national security team.

China Taunts a U.S. Distracted by Putin

In both actions and rhetoric, Chinese officials have ratcheted up the conflict over disputed territories, looking to capitalize on a distracted U.S.
By David Axe

While the U.S. media and political establishment were focused on Russia’s hacks of the recent U.S. presidential election—and the retaliatory sanctions the outgoing Obama administration announced on Dec. 29—the Chinese navy was moving aggressively into the contested waters of the strategic South China Sea.
In a move that combined actions and words, China’s sailed its aircraft carrier boldly through disputed waters while prominent Chinese figures voiced rhetoric significantly escalating Beijing’s global ambitions.
It will mostly fall on president Donald Trump and his administration to formulate a response.
It’s customary for Beijing to tease an incoming U.S. presidential administration with some kind of military or diplomatic demonstration. 
American experts expected the Trump administration to face some kind of challenge. 
And indeed on Dec. 15, the crew of a Chinese navy ship briefly hijacked a U.S. Navy underwater research drone, drawing a flurry of indignant and contradictory tweets from Trump.
But the far greater challenge came 10 days later—and could represent a sneak peak of China’s forceful approach to the United States’ military and diplomatic posture for at least the next four years.
The first obvious sign of China’s big move came on Christmas Day, when Japanese forces detected Liaoning, the Chinese navy’s first and so far only aircraft carrier, sailing out of the East China Sea into the Western Pacific for the first time.
China is currently building a second carrier, and has said it will eventually begin construction on a third flattop. 
The U.S. Navy possesses 10 large carriers plus nine carrier-like assault ships that can carry a modest number fixed-wing planes.
Liaoning, a former Soviet vessel that China acquired and rebuilt at great expense starting in 1998, entered Chinese navy service in 2012. 
Normally based at Dalían in northern China, Liaoning has spent the past four years periodically venturing into coastal waters for training. 
The Christmas Day sortie qualifies as the 1,000-foot vessel’s first frontline deployment.
With fighter jets and helicopters arrayed on her deck and accompanied by five heavily-armed escort vessels, Liaoning cut an arc through the Pacific just 60 miles off the coast of Japan’s Okinawa prefecture before heading southwest.
The Obama administration reacted with a practiced shrug. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner pointed out that all countries have the right the sail their warships in international waters. 
“It’s freedom of navigation,” Toner said.
Taiwan was less sanguine as the Chinese flattop closed to within 90 miles of the island country on her way back toward China. 
The defense ministry in Taipei announced it “will pay close attention to [Liaoning’s] future movement.”
Tensions between the United States, Taiwan and China lately have been running higher than usual. On Dec. 2, President Trump shattered decades of protocol when he spoke on the phone with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
Since 1979, the U.S. government has carefully avoided officially recognizing Taiwan as a fully independent country—in order to avoid inciting the wrath of China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has threatened to invade if the island ever makes official its own independence.
It’s possible to read Liaoning’s passage near Taiwan as a forceful retort to the Dec. 2 phone call. 
Even then, Beijing wasn’t done.
Sailing into the resource-rich South China Sea—where China, The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei have all asserted overlapping, and unresolved, territorial claims—Liaoning hailed at Hainan, an island province of China in the South China Sea southwest of Taiwan.
Starting in 2012, China massively expanded Hainan’s port facilities to accommodate not just one full-size carrier but two. 
By contrast, the United States keeps just one large carrier and one assault ship in the Western Pacific. Both vessels are homeported in Japan.
Liaoning briefly stopped at Sanya on Hainan in 2013, at a time when tensions in the South China Sea were arguably much lower. 
The flattop’s visit three years later served as a clear reminder to nearby countries and the United States that, before too long, China will be able to quickly deploy naval power in the South China Sea that roughly matches America’s own naval contingent in the region.
And in a sharp break from the past, a Chinese official matched his country’s swelling military might with new, bombastic rhetoric. 
The South China Sea is China’s “ancestral sea” and also “China’s territorial waters,” Xing Jincheng, a Chinese-military political commissar on Hainan, wrote in a Dec. 29 op-ed.
Xing, who was appointed in 2013 to oversee Hainan’s naval militia, wrote that he considered it his job to wage “the first battle for the rights to the South China Sea.”
That kind of rhetoric is becoming more prominent among Chinese officials and government proxies. In a Nov. 12 speech, Zhu Feng, the director of the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea at Nanjing University, spoke forcefully about China’s rise as a “global” military power.
In recent years, Chinese leaders have shied away from describing Beijing’s ambitions as global, instead insisting that the country merely wants to be a “regional” power—in other words, a force incapable of challenging America’s worldwide military dominance.
“To become a successful country, one must be a global power, and the global powers must be the world’s military powers,” Zhu said.
Describing the Hainan carrier base as “China’s most important naval port,” Zhu predicted that the sea route from Hainan into the South China Sea would become “the world’s most important channel.”
Just one force stands in the way of China’s “free access” to the South China Sea, Zhu stated. 
“For China to become a maritime power, we must limit the United States’ global naval freedom of intervention.”
“I tell you very frankly that the South China Sea dispute has just begun,” Zhu added.

Poisoning the World

Your Garlic is Being Imported From China, Filled With Bleach And Chemicals. Here’s How To Spot It
By Healty Happy

China is putting California garlic growers out of business.
Less than ten years ago, all of our garlic was grown in this country, primarily in CA. 
Now less than 40% is grown here and most of it (60%) is coming from China.
You can tell the difference by looking at the bottom. 
If the roots are all removed, leaving a concave, clean spot, it is Chinese. 
This is required by the Ag Dept. to prevent soil-borne plant diseases from entering our country. 
If the roots are still there, it is California garlic. 
The Garlic Growers Assoc. says not one single US grower cleans out the root end.

Poison sellers

In China, quality control is a huge issue. 
Many Chinese farmers are using illegal and harmful pesticides to grow their crops.
“An undercover magazine reporter investigating in the area found that many vegetable farmers used phorate and parathion, two pesticides banned by the government, to irrigate the crops to save time and effort” (Epoch Times).
Parathion and phorate have been labeled Highly Toxic Poisons for some time – and for good reason.
Another major factor in the quality of the garlic in China is from the major pollution problem. 
The soil itself is toxic and is also a major health concern.
“An official government report in 2014 showed that nearly a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated by heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic as well as unhealthy amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. Severe pollution has tainted all of China’s major rivers with large amounts of industrial chemicals and household waste” (Epoch Times).


Everyone should make sure that they are not eating ANY garlic from China. 
They have bleach and other harmful chemicals in them and are dangerous to your health.
Next time you go shopping, look out for these signs:
  1. If there are roots or a stem then it is safe. China makes sure to cut off the roots and stems so that they weigh less when shipped over the sea.
  2. Garlic that is heavy and more bulbous is safer. Imported garlic is smaller and lighter.
  3. Healthy homegrown garlic tastes richer and is most likely from California. On the big flavor measurement scale, homegrown garlic measures 40 out of 40, whereas garlic from China only measures a 28 out of 40.
  4. The number one BEST way to make sure you are not getting garlic from China is to get it from a local farmer or to grow it yourself at home. 

Axis of Terror

China blocks India's request for U.N. to blacklist militant chief
By Paritosh Bansal

Xi Jinping's Terrrorist -- Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan's militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. 

NEW DELHI -- China has blocked India's request to add the head of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad to a U.N. Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda, India said on Friday.
India has accused Jaish-e-Mohammad and its top leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, of masterminding several attacks, including a deadly assault on an Indian air base in January.
Pakistani security officials interrogated Azhar and his associates after the attack, and said they found no evidence linking him to it.
Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not Azhar, an Islamist hardliner and long-time foe of India.
Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that India had requested that Azhar be added to the list nine months ago and had received strong backing from all other members of the council.
But China, which put a hold on the move in April, had now blocked it, he said.
"We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism," he said in a statement.
Swarup added that the inability of the international community to take the step showed the "prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism."
China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Friday evening.
India has long accused its neighbour and rival Pakistan of using Jaish-e-Mohammad as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil, including in the disputed Kashmir region, and earlier gave what it called "actionable intelligence" to Pakistan, including telephone intercepts.
Pakistan denies giving any aid to Kashmir-based militants.
If Azhar was blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.

vendredi 30 décembre 2016

‘Hooligan Sparrow’s Nanfu Wang On The Stacked Odds Of Exposing Corruption In China: “Every Day I Was Pretty Afraid”

By Antonia Blyth

Making a film about government corruption in China has to take guts, but what if you grew up poor in mainland China with zero filmmaking experience? 
What if the secret police began tailing your every move and national security officials harassed your family and friends? 
What if you had no idea how to use hidden cameras?
When Nanfu Wang made Hooligan Sparrow she had some serious odds stacked against her, but with the help of a pair of concealed-camera glasses, a microphone under her skirt and an immutable desire to document the truth, she created a film that made the Academy shortlist, and was given the Best Emerging Documentary Filmmaker award by the IDA.
It may not have aired in China, but Wang’s film following activist Ye Haiyan (‘Hooligan Sparrow’) as she protests the kidnap and rape of six school girls has received a great deal of notice in the rest of the world. 
As Wang says, “I feel really grateful that the story has so much response and exposure, especially in the current time in the US. It saddens me to see now the country that I lived in here is going through such difficult times as well and how relevant everything is – the right to protest, the right to information, the right to know. It’s very interesting.”

How did you decide to make this film?

It’s a long story. 
When I came to the US, I went to journalism school at Ohio University, but prior to that, when I was in China, I had not seen a documentary because I grew up in a small village in remote China and media was not accessible. 
In 2012 I decided this is what I’m going to do with my life. 
But at the time, I had never touched a camera and I didn’t know how to edit. 
I had no skills so I applied to New York University – a program called Using Documentary. 
I thought about going back to China to make a film and at the time, I was interested in many, many topics like the healthcare system. 
My father died when I was 12 and I wanted to expose the healthcare system in China because I felt like if we had a better system, he wouldn’t have died at such a young age—he was 33.
I also wanted to make films about the educational system in China because I didn’t go to high school or college in China. 
I started working when I was 16, so I fought really hard to get back to school.
Another topic that interested me was sex workers because, like I said, I grew up in a village and I had seen a lot of women from the village who didn’t have access to education and they end up becoming sex workers because they did not have skills, they did not have education and they were really discriminated against. 
So I wanted to make a film about the poorest sex workers in the country, but I also knew that it would be hard to get access to them. 
I’ve known Hooligan Sparrow – her name is Ye Haiyan – for a long time through social media, but I had never seen her in person at the time.
She was very proactive and she did a lot of radical activism by putting her own nude photos on the internet. 
And one thing that really attracted my attention was she did a free sex campaign where she went to brothels and offered sex for free to people to expose the living conditions of those sex workers and migrant workers who are usually their clients. 
The sex there was usually $2 per service so they are some of the poorest people.
I thought she would be the perfect person to introduce me to the sex workers. 
I contacted her through e-mail and phone and she said, “Come back to China and we can talk.”
When I got to China, she was planning a protest. 
There was a breaking news story about six school girls, aged between 11 and 14, who were raped by their school principal and a government official, so she wanted to do the protest. 
I initially decided to follow her to the protest and it was then that I knew that the story wouldn’t be about sex workers anymore, but what turned out is much more complicated and a much bigger story than I initially planned to make.

Did you know you would become a target for government surveillance once you began making a film?
My life was not political when I lived in China so I knew very little about the activist world. 
I was aware of the corruption in China but I didn’t know the scale of the surveillance. 
When I got here to go to the protest with her, she warned me. 
She said, “It’s dangerous. You could be arrested and you could be disappeared. You could just be found dead.” 
I thought it was a joke. I didn’t believe her that much. 
I thought it was a little exaggerated but then a week after I went to the protest, my family got the phone call from national security agents and that’s when I realized they took it really seriously. 
Then, a few weeks later, my friends were taken into interrogation simply to be asked whether they know me and whether they know what I was doing and where I was. 
We were followed by plain clothes officers, secret police. 
Everywhere we went they knew our whereabouts and they knew that we were going there and they’d be waiting there for us.

You used a micro-camera in your glasses and we see you putting your audio recorder under your skirt. How did you decide what would work best?

I started doing research on what hidden cameras are available and I found a lot on the internet. 
There are hidden cameras in a watch shape or in pens or a button, but because it was summer it was really difficult to hide anything because we were wearing less clothes. 
I cannot put on a watch and then constantly raise up my arm and take a look at a watch. 
That’s not feasible. 
So later I thought maybe glasses, that would be the most perfect because it’s on eye level. 
So I bought a pair and I thought nobody would notice but I was pretty naïve because the glasses were huge and were black. 
No young girls would wear those kind of ridiculous, large glasses. 
So, you can see in the film that eventually the police did find out that the glasses were a hidden camera.

How has making this film changed how you feel about your home country?

It’s like the movie The Truman Show. 
I feel like towards the end of the movie, all of a sudden you realize that your whole life in the past had been lies. 
I realized that there were activists like Ye Haiyan in China who were constantly depicted by the state media as criminals, but they are real people like us and are fighting for other people’s rights. 
I never expected that there would be so many secret police on the streets and I never expected that the government would go so far to silence anybody who was remotely connected to human rights activism or even just a person like me, who is trying to tell their story.

There are some really terrifying moments where you’re clearly frightened but you continue filming. When were you the most scared?

I think every day I was pretty afraid. 
One of the biggest fears was I didn’t know when they would break into the house. 
I didn’t feel safe even when I was in somebody’s house because they could break in anytime and I was worried about my footage constantly. 
I think the activists, they inspired me a lot because I know that they’ve been living in China for their entire lives and their lives are constantly under threat, harassment and fear but they still continue doing what they do.
Compared to them, my experience was quite temporary really, and I knew that I had the ability to leave if I wanted to, more than them. 
So their courage really inspired me. 
At the same time, I feel like I was the storyteller. 
I had the connection to the outside world. 
I know English and I almost felt like I was the only person that could get this story out and if I don’t tell this story, if I quit, then whatever happened to them, nobody would know.

Do you think you’re able to travel back to China?

It’s still unknown whether I can go back. 
I wish there is a black list that I can check. 
Am I on the list or not? 
But unfortunately there isn’t, or fortunately there isn’t. 
So I don’t know if I can go back and the only way to find out would be try to go and see what would happen. 
At this moment, I feel like I still want to evaluate, kind of assess the risks or the consequences when I’m ready to go back.
My family were visited by national security agents recently because the film has been getting a lot of exposure outside of China, and my family was told that they were monitoring what I say in media and whether it’s something negative about China. 
I had a debate, because I was really concerned about my family, but I also feel that if I stay silent, if I don’t say anything, then their tactics are effective. 
Then it’s helping them to suppress people and the only way that the change might happen is actually to say what I witness and what I disagree with rather than stay silent.

Have you had a chance to speak with some of the people in the film since it came out?

I showed a rough cut of the film to all of the main subjects before I finished it and now, they’ve had a few underground screenings in China. 
The main subject, Hooligan Sparrow, saw it and she wrote a long article about the film but then the next day the government deleted it. 
The same happened with a few media outlets who were brave enough to write about the film. 
Soon it was deleted. 
So the film right now is censored in China. 
No media outlets were allowed to report it. 
One of the other main subjects, Wang Yu, the lawyer, she’s still in jail. 
She was arrested in July 2015 and she was held for a year without any charge and in February of this year she was finally charged with subverting the government.

Should America Really Fear China's Growing Navy?

By James Holmes

Contain yourselves, folks. 
Putting out to sea without mishap is a rather basic function for navies—not the apex of naval achievement. 
Grand geopolitical ambitions for China’s navy are likely to go unfulfilled for quite some time.
Prompting this outburst: the editorial staff at the Global Times is crowing about the latest voyage of the aircraft carrier Liaoning. 
Last week China’s lone flattop transited through the Ryukyu island chain into the Western Pacific, cruised past Taiwan, and entered the South China Sea. 
The Japanese Defense Ministry confirmed that this represented the ship’s first egress into the open ocean. 
Taiwanese spokesmen fretted publicly.
Message received!
The Times’s Christmas Day victory lap is premature. 
Sailors hone their craft not by sitting pierside but by plying the briny main—a lot. 
While China’s navy goes to sea more now than in bygone years, its operational practices still can’t compare to the U.S. Navy’s. 
Even Asian rivals like the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force upstage China in the human dimension of seamanship and combat.
Moreover, bear in mind what Liaoning and her indigenously built sisters are likely to be: rather humble aircraft carriers, with air wings dwarfed by those sported on board American flattops. Chinese carriers can project influence and hard military power within reach of shore-based fire support, manifest in anti-ship missiles, tactical aircraft, and small surface and subsurface craft. 
But carrier formations will have to leave that protective umbrella behind to voyage to remote expanses—and will revert to being the humble vessels they are. 
They may disappoint.
Still, the idea is sound by and large. 
The Global Times writers have either done their homework on strategic theory or, perchance, alighted on a winning formula for sea power on their own.
First, a navy enjoying robust logistics can cause problems for a stronger antagonist at many places on the map—siphoning off forces from critical theaters or, at a minimum, compelling that antagonist to accept more risk to its interests. 
The editorialists opine that the People’s Liberation Army Navy must amass the wherewithal and experience to appear in distant waters—especially waters important to the United States. 
“If the fleet is able to enter areas where the U.S. has core interests,” they say, “the situation when the U.S. unilaterally imposes pressure on China will change.”
That insight is solidly grounded. 
Sea-power pundit Julian S. Corbett observes that one competitor can allocate a “contingent” of seagoing forces to make trouble for another. 
Lord Wellington’s modest expeditionary army inflicted an “ulcer” on Napoleon in Portugal and Spain—bogging down French forces in hybrid warfare at a time when the little emperor was struggling to subdue stronger foes to France’s east. 
Statesmen and commanders can pose the threat of such an ulcer in peacetime. 
They too can harness the power of troublemaking strategies.
Second, staying power is crucial to such endeavors. 
The strategist Woody Allen reputedly declared that showing up constitutes 80 percent of life. Maritime forces have to do the other 20 percent as well. 
They have to show up and stay to make a diplomatic statement. 
To appear in American waters and stay, advises the Global Times, “China needs to think about setting up navy supply points in South America right now.”
Historian Alfred Thayer Mahan codified that commonsense insight a century ago, depicting international commerce, merchant and naval shipping, and forward naval outposts as the pillars on which sea power rests. 
China is a major trading partner of many Latin American states. 
It can try to parlay economic clout into seaport access—helping the PLA Navy stage a sustained presence in the Western Hemisphere.
Third, the editorialists claim that mounting such a presence will leave Washington more pliant about Beijing’s demands in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific. 
A kind of reciprocity will take hold whereby one competitor defers to the other in its own home region: “When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the U.S. one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules.”
This, it appears, is the purpose impelling Chinese maritime strategy for the Global Times scribes (and potentially for their masters in the Chinese Communist Party, with which the paper is affiliated).
And there’s something to that. 
The United States could hardly yield supremacy to the PLA Navy in, say, the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico. 
Washington would probably see the need to reinforce the U.S. Navy presence in southern waters—keeping some of that shiny 350-ship navy the Trump administration wants close to home rather than deploying it to faraway seas.
But Beijing shouldn’t invest too much hope in a grand bargain over “maritime rules.”
Americans rightly view freedom of the sea as indivisible, and the presence of foreign warships along its shores as the price of keeping it that way. 
They tolerated the Soviet naval presence in American and European waters for forty years of cold war. 
They can—and, I hope, will—do so again as freedom of the sea comes under stress.
In short, it’s whimsy to think America will forfeit nautical freedom in the China seas to safeguard American seas. 
No likely PLA Navy expeditionary presence will change that.

Poisoning the World

Beware, China Is Making Rice from Plastic – Here’s How to Spot It
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll be shocked when we tell you about this scary trend, coming out of China! 
Well yes, according to the report, they are apparently making rice out of plastic!
This is very bad, because we all know that plastic is not part of any diet!
According to the experts, the fake rice substitute is being made from sweet potatoes, potatoes and a synthetic resin (aka plastic). 
When the ingredients mix, they form grains that resemble rice. 
It is then sprayed with a chemical fragrance to make it smell like an expensive brand of rice called Wuchang rice.
This means that you should be very careful, because it is really hard to tell the difference between the actual rice and the plastic rice. 
But, don’t worry, because in this article we’re going to show you some tips on how you can be sure your rice is the real deal:
  • First option is to soak your rice in water! How this works – well, real rice will sink in a glass of water, and fake rice will float.
  • This is also very useful – you can put cooked rice on the counter for several days, if it molds it is real – if no mold forms, it is not real rice.
  • Or, you can do this – when you cook your rice, if you notice a thick layer on top of the water, it is probably the fake rice.
  • A flame held by fake rice will emit a plastic aroma, and it will burn like plastic would.

China's Fifth Column

Through reclusive Wa, China's reach extends into Suu Kyi's Myanmar
By Antoni Slodkowski and Yimou Lee | PANGSAN, MYANMAR
United Wa State Army (UWSA) soldiers march during a media display in Pansang, Wa territory in northeast Myanmar October 4, 2016. Picture taken on October 4, 2016.
Children leave school in Namtit, Wa territory in northeast Myanmar November 30, 2016. Picture taken on November 30, 
United Wa State Army (UWSA) soldiers march during a media display in Pansang, Wa territory in northeast Myanmar October 4, 2016. Picture taken on October 4, 2016. 
Ethnic Wa performer dressed as United Wa State Army (UWSA) soldiers perform a traditional dance in Mongmao, Wa territory in northeast Myanmar October 1, 2016. Picture taken on October 1, 2016. 
A teacher conducts a Chinese language lesson in a school in Namtit, Wa territory in northeast Myanmar November 30, 2016. Picture taken on November 30, 2016. 

China is extending its sway over an autonomous enclave run by Myanmar's most powerful ethnic armed group, sources in the region told Reuters, bolstering Beijing's role in the peace process that is the signature policy of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The "foreign policy" of the self-proclaimed Wa State is closely monitored by Beijing, senior officials in the administration run by the 30,000-strong United Wa State Army (UWSA) and its political wing said, with contact with Western governments, businesses or aid groups deemed particularly sensitive.
Official known to Myanmar as "Special Region 2", the remote territory is the size of Belgium and home to 600,000 people. 
Largely closed to Westerners for decades, it was visited by Reuters in October.
China's influence is quickly apparent, with street signs in Mandarin and Chinese businesses and banknotes ubiquitous in the self-proclaimed state's capital, Pangsan, and other Wa towns that straddle the rugged border.
"We share the same language and we marry each other," said the head of the Wa Foreign Affairs Office, Zhao Guo'an, when asked about the Chinese influence on Wa politics. 
"There's nothing we can do about it. We use Chinese currency, we speak Chinese and we wear and use products from China. Very little of that is from Myanmar."
Delve a little deeper, and it is apparent that China's reach extends much further than business and social ties.


When Lo Yaku, the Wa agriculture minister, was asked about the drugs the statelet is accused of producing on an industrial scale, his secretary and a staffer from the official Wa News Bureau intervened to deflect the question. 
Both men are not Wa natives, but from China.
"This question was answered yesterday," said I Feng, a news bureau reporter originally from western China.
"After the drug eradication campaign, our government encouraged agencies, individuals and Chinese investors to participate in anti-drug activities," said the minister's secretary, Chen Chun, originally from Zhejiang province on China's faraway east coast.
A similar scene played out repeatedly during Reuters' visit -- the first by a major international news organization -- questions on topics ranging from military funding to methamphetamine were mostly fielded not by the Wa minister but by an accompanying Chinese minder.
These and other Chinese citizens Reuters found working in the administration in Pangsan said they were employees of the Wa government and "did not work" for the authorities in Beijing.
But their presence hints at just how closely entwined the Wa State and its leaders are with their giant neighbor.

"China has its ears and eyes everywhere, including in the government and business, and is wary of any deepening of ties with the West," said one minister from the Wa government, speaking on condition of anonymity due the sensitivity of the matter.
"We take this very seriously, and act so as not to anger China," he said, adding that all dealings with Washington and Brussels, as well as every foreigner or NGO entering Wa territory, were scrupulously reported to China.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to a question from Reuters that "as a friendly neighbor" it has "consistently respected Myanmar's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and not interfered with Myanmar's internal affairs".

The Wa State was formed in 1989, when the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) disintegrated into ethnic armies, and has been run as an autonomous region by the UWSA beyond the authority of the central Myanmar government since.
The rare invitation to a small group of foreign journalists to visit -- made at Beijing's urging according to two ministers from the Wa government -- appears to be part of a charm offensive aimed at the new civilian government led by democracy champion Suu Kyi.
Reaching an accord with the Wa and other rebels is one of Suu Kyi's biggest challenges as she grapples with the interlocking issues of ending decades of ethnic conflict and tackling drug production in Myanmar's lawless border regions.
While it has not fought the Myanmar army in years, the USWA -- whose leaders deny allegations from the United States and others that it is a major producer of methamphetamine -- has so far declined to actively participate in Suu Kyi's peace process.
"It's a good timing for us to open up. There's a new political reality in Myanmar, so it's good to engage in the political dialogue and open up to the outside world," said Nyi Rang, a Wa government official.
China also has its own interests in play, according to analysts.
Beijing hopes Suu Kyi will restart a blocked, Chinese-financed mega-dam project, and wants to protect its extensive mineral interests in the country after the removal of U.S. sanctions has opened it up to Western competitors.
"China is playing a complex game in Myanmar aimed at safeguarding and extending its considerable economic, commercial and strategic interests while at the same time deterring any encroachment by Western or Japanese interests along its southwestern border," said Anthony Davis, a Bangkok-based analyst for security consulting firm IHS-Jane's.
"In this carrot-and-stick game the UWSA is unquestionably the biggest stick Beijing wields -- plausibly deniable diplomatically, hugely influential as a strategic rear-base for allied ethnic factions, and itself far too powerful to be taken down militarily."


The Wa mini-state relies heavily on China as a market for its exports of rubber and metals such as tin.
As well as occupying government posts, Chinese citizens, mainly from neighboring Yunnan province, dominate local markets and the Wa elite send their children to Chinese schools and elderly to its hospitals.
"We don't make anything here. The stuff we eat, we wear and we use is all from China," said Chu Chin Hung, district office chief in the Wa border town of Nan Tit. 
"Every Saturday morning there is a farmers' market, but almost all of the vendors are from China."
Experts such as IHS-Jane's Defence Weekly have previously reported that China has sold a variety of weapons to the Wa. 
For the first time, a Wa minister, who declined to be identified, confirmed some of those reports and described the process.
"The Wa State has bought military trucks directly from China and light weapons from China indirectly through Laos," said the minister. 
"Those weapons include rifles and cannons. They don't want to anger Myanmar by selling directly."
The Chinese Defence Ministry denied selling weapons to the Wa.
"China has consistently and strictly adhered to a military equipment export policy that benefits the recipient country's present defense needs, does not harm regional or world peace, security and stability, and that does not interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient country," it said in a statement to Reuters.

Trump can contain China with Russia's help

Thomas Jäger: By nominating China critics and Russia friends, US President Donald Trump has made clear that he intends to change the fundamental rules of US foreign and trade policies
DW: By picking China critic Peter Navarro to lead the newly established White House National Trade Council, what is Donald Trump trying to achieve?
Thomas Jäger: Navarro's nomination proves that Trump wants to reshape and redesign policies rather than adapting to the changing situations. 
The incoming US administration says it wants to take a new path in foreign policy. 
The president-elect's team won't be as cautious in its business with China as the Obama administration. 
Trump believes that the US governments have emboldened Beijing, which now dominates international trade policies.

Will Trump start a trade war with China?

What we can say for sure is the US won't remain passive anymore
The US under Trump will redefine its relationship with Russia and contain China with Moscow's help. 
Trump will also strengthen ties with China's neighboring countries in the Pacific. 
This would be an enormous economic and political containment of China.

Are you saying that rapprochement with Russia and aggression toward China is part of the same US foreign policy?

I think so. 
If Trump succeeds in reshaping US relations with Russia, China will come under pressure. 
Then Beijing is likely to negotiate and could give up its claims on the South China Sea or offer trade concessions. 
We should keep in mind that an aggressive economic policy played a big role in the US' "victory" over the Soviet Union.

Are we in for a complete paradigm shift?

It looks possible. 
Maybe, it won't come to this. 
It also depends on how Moscow and Beijing react to Trump's policies. 
But it is pretty obvious that Trump and his team are pursuing a policy of being tough with China and easy with Russia at this point.

Many people still underestimate Trump's leadership qualities. Is it possible that he actually has a master plan?
Trump is evolving. 
In the recent weeks, he has consulted many politicians and consulting firms. They certainly have influenced him to some extent. 
They have introduced him to a world that he didn't know previously. 
I think he will be able to use this knowledge and his own ideas to his benefit.
President Trump has a completely different way of thinking than Barack Obama. Trump has a different mindset; he analyzes quarterly reports. 
I am sure the US foreign and trade policies will also be evaluated on a quarterly basis now.

jeudi 29 décembre 2016

Chinese Aggressions

U.S. Navy Will Expand Undersea Drone Operations
By Mike Fabey

In the wake of the Chinese seizure and return of the U.S. Navy glider in the waters of the Western Pacific, U.S. Navy officials have made it clear they plan to continue and broaden the range of such data-gathering missions with the relatively affordable but sophisticated underwater drones.
The ocean gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles used to collect oceanographic data to better understand the ocean.
“We have approximately 130 of these gliders and they are relatively inexpensive,” Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Oceanographer of the Navy and commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, says in a blog released soon after the Chinese seizure.
“The U.S. Navy will not only continue to use these technologies to improve our knowledge of the oceans, but we will be significantly increasing our use of gliders over the coming years so that our understanding of the ocean is the best in the world,” he says. 
“My goals for this program include expanding the current use of gliders, enabling the Fleet through the use of gliders and ocean models, and accelerating development and deployment of newer systems.”
Why does the Navy use gliders? 
“Only 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored,” Gallaudet notes. 
“These underwater robots allow us to explore more of the ocean, and faster, at a fraction of the cost of a manned submersible or a ship. The information gathered allows us to better predict ocean currents, density, sea states and tides which the U.S. Navy needs to safely and effectively operate all around the world. Once deployed, a glider can persistently sample the ocean for months freeing the ship to perform other functions.”
While some have represented the gliders to be cheap and disposable, but they are complicated unmanned underwater vehicles the Navy, researchers and industry have been developing for some time. 
The first generation of underwater gliders was developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), starting in the mid‐1990’s and mostly through the talents of academic institutions or small closely associated businesses. 
The Navy was using ONR-supported underwater gliders by 2004 in fleet exercises, establishing the Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Gliders (LBS-G) as a program of record in 2010. 
The service has been using the gliders operationally since 2012.
Modular in design and buoyancy-driven the gliders can collect oceanographic data for up to four months without the need for active propulsion. 
The drones are made by Teledyne Webb and are sold commercially, Gallaudet points out.
The ocean glider caught and released by the Chinese is a Slocum G2, Navy officials say.
From the underwater drone concept’s inception, according to Navy and contractor officials, a priority was given to developing a small, rechargeable and efficient li-on battery as well as the necessary algorithms and display tools to aid in glider deployment and routing for visualization and adaptive sampling. 
They also need to find low-frequency sound sources for navigation and tomography – a method to display a cross section through a solid object using X-rays or ultrasound.
Such a reliable, robust and long-term data collection capability means little, though unless the glider goes where the operators want it to and can transmit the information back, so program developers also needed to develop common glider user interface, control programs and common data formats.
Some of the components of a Teledyne underwater drone sensor suite include the following: acoustic modem; altimeter; bathyphotometer (for bioluminescence); beam attenuation meter echo sounder; optical backscatter optical attenuation; oxygen conductivity; depth fish tracking; fluorometer; hydrocarbon hydrophones; PAR sensor; radiometer; scattering attenuation meter; spectrophotometer (for red tide detection); and a turbulence sensor.
All this is packed into a nearly 5-foot-long torpedo with wings.
The drones’ flight software includes autoballast functions that adjusts to balance the dive or climb ratio within desired drive value as well as providing for speed control that can override the autoballast to maintain desired speed. 
It also has a low-power mode that reduces processor-cycle intervals to manage energy usage.
Sensor readings help control the gliders. 
“Varying vehicle buoyancy creates forward propulsion,” the Slocum 2 owners’ manual says. 
“Wings and control surfaces convert the vertical velocity into forward velocity so that the vehicle glides downward when denser than water and glides upward when buoyant.”
Teledyne drones also include acoustics modems for command and control and to transfer data for transducers that handle depths thousands of meters beneath the sea.
However, subsurface communications, program officials, can be limited by frequencies and conditions with constrained bit-rate operations.

President Tsai Ing-wen to stop in U.S. en route to countries in Central America

Routine trip has taken on significance after Trump call
By Adela Lin and Ting Shi

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through the U.S. en route to Central America next month, a routine stopover that has taken on added significance after President Donald Trump spoke with her by phone and separately questioned the One-China policy.
Tsai’s office will unveil the details of her U.S. stops at a later date, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said in a text message. 
Her Jan. 7-15 trip announced last week to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador will “boost cooperation and deepen friendship” with Taiwan’s Central American allies, Wang said.
While the ministry had said previously that Tsai wouldn’t transit in New York and won’t meet Trump, the stopover risks further tensions between the U.S. and China ahead of Trump’s inauguration. 
Trump has already signaled a more antagonistic approach to China as president, with the self-governing island potentially becoming one of the biggest flash points between the two global powers.
“Supporters of Taiwan and critics of China in the U.S. will obviously welcome this move as not bowing to Chinese pressure,” said Ja Ian Chong, an assistant professor with the National University of Singapore who specializes in Asia-Pacific relations. 
“This could set the tone for an even more contentious and tumultuous U.S.-China relationship.”
Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai’s predecessor, transited in Houston and Los Angeles during a March trip to Central America. 
Tsai’s trip comes at a particularly sensitive time after Trump angered Beijing in accepting the phone call from the Taiwanese president.
The 10-minute conversation on Dec. 2 was the closest a Taiwanese leader has come to getting formal recognition from Washington since the U.S. established ties with the Communist government in Beijing almost four decades ago.

Two Chinas Policy

In a Few Words, Taiwan Finds an Ally

Taiwan and President Tsai Ing-wen (L) may benefit as Japan and its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, seek diplomatic paths to counter China's increasing military and diplomatic pressure.

Starting Saturday Dec. 31, the Interchange Association, Japan — Tokyo’s de facto embassy in Taiwan — will have a new name: The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association
The new moniker, which was announced in a notice posted today on the association’s website, received a rebuke from China's Foreign Ministry, which said it was “extremely dissatisfied” by the Japanese government's implicit nod to Taiwan's Taiwaneseness. 
Though the prospective name change is undoubtedly the result of months of closed-door discussions between the governments in Tokyo and Taipei, the timing of the announcement could scarcely be more portentous.
Considering U.S. President Donald Trump's shot across China's bow — in taking a phone call Dec. 2 from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — Tokyo's move reflects the heightened geopolitical competition in East Asia. 
Given accelerated Chinese efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and intimidate it militarily, such developments will intensify the contest at large. 
Japan is making increasingly bold efforts to counter China's rise through diplomatic outreach and security cooperation with Taiwan and elsewhere in maritime East Asia.
Even without the intensified regional competition, Japan has powerful incentives to make diplomatic overtures to its island neighbor, which is developing an increasingly Taiwanese national identity. 
The two countries have a long and complicated relationship: Japan colonized Taiwan for a half-century before its defeat in World War II. 
But since 1972, Tokyo, like most other governments, has denied Taiwan's formal sovereignty. 
Today, Japan and Taiwan are significant economic partners. 
Japan is the fourth-largest consumer of Taiwanese exports (after China, Hong Kong and the United States), and it exports more to Taiwan than any other country save China. 
Moreover, despite its colonial legacy, Japan is more popular among Taiwan's populace than it is among people in China or South Korea, also World War II-era Japanese colonies. 
Against this backdrop, the association name alteration is less a sea change in Japan's posture toward Taiwan than a natural evolution in Taiwanese-Japanese relations.
To put the move in greater context, the region's shifting geopolitics — in particular the recent developments in the relationships between China and Taiwan and China and Japan — must be taken into account. 
China's efforts to translate its increased economic heft into military power have muddied the security picture that developed in the region after the Cold War. 
China's rise has also prompted a push by Japan’s leaders to restore their nation's position as a leading regional power and key counterweight to Chinese ambitions
Increasingly, Japan has sought to mobilize growing uncertainty over Beijing's long-term intentions to lay foundations for a more unified coalition to counter China — an effort facilitated by China's aggressive island reclamation in the South and East China seas and by Washington's tendency to get distracted by developments elsewhere. 
Along with the Philippines — and to a lesser extent Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand — Taiwan has figured centrally in this strategy. 
Indeed, Taiwan's status as the key geopolitical “prize” for China makes it, by extension, a linchpin of Japan's own evolving regional strategy. 
Any blockade of the Chinese coast would become exponentially harder if China were to achieve its long-desired "reunification" with Taiwan and break the chain of islands that form the boundaries of the South and East China seas.
Even as China's expanding military power and maritime activities have pushed Japan to deepen security cooperation with Taiwan and other South China Sea claimants, persistent Chinese pressure to uphold the one-China policy has limited changes to official diplomatic rhetoric between the two countries. 
That policy has been battered by recent developments: Trump's phone call with Tsai, his public reference to her as Taiwan's president and his subsequent pledge to use Taiwan's status as a bargaining chip with China reflect the growing challenges to the one-China thesis. 
In this atmosphere, the Interchange Association's name change has amplified significance and will further undermine a diplomatic facade that has outlived its initial Cold War purpose.
It is no surprise that in the weeks following Trump's call with Tsai, the Chinese government has moved swiftly to diplomatically isolate the island country – most recently by luring away Sao Tome, one of Taipei's few remaining African allies. 
All the while, China is stepping up naval activities in waters near Taiwan. 
Japan's decision to acknowledge “Taiwan” in its de facto embassy's name may reflect an effort to counter these moves by reaffirming the friendship of a country far more important to Taiwan's long-term trajectory than any of the 21 nations, mostly in Africa and Latin America, who still have diplomatic relations with it.
At the same time, and somewhat ironically, the move is likely to further accelerate Chinese efforts to cut off Taiwan's few remaining lifelines to formal sovereignty and to use punitive economic measures to chasten Tsai. 
These actions, of course, will likely compel even bolder moves by Tokyo (and perhaps the United States) to challenge China's position on cross-strait relations — leading at best to a tense strategic environment next year, and at worst to a real political or even military crisis.

Sina Delenda Est

It is High Time to Outmaneuver Beijing in the South China Sea
By Ross Babbage

The policy of the United States in the South China Sea has failed
Repeated statements of limited interest accompanied by occasional ship and aircraft passages have failed to prevent Beijing’s program of island creation, nor have they meaningfully forestalled China’s quest for military dominance in the region.
In seeking to minimize the risk of confrontation at every step, the United States have effectively ceded control of a highly strategic region and presided over a process of incremental capitulation.
Bad precedents have been set, and poor messages have been transmitted to the global community. 
In parts of the Western Pacific, the allies are in danger of losing their long-held status as the security partners of choice.
Why has Washington been so flat-footed? 
Why has it taken so long to develop an effective counter-strategy to Beijing’s island creation and militarization in the South China Sea?
Part of the reason is the way that China has asserted its sovereignty over some 80 percent of this strategic waterway
The South China Sea is a stretch of water that carries more than half of the world’s merchant tonnage and serves as an important transit route for the militaries of the United States and many of its allies and friends. 
During the last five years, Beijing’s footprint has expanded markedly with the dredging-up of new islands and the construction of facilities for surveillance, anti-air, anti-shipping, and strike forces. Beijing’s campaign has been cleverly conducted via a succession of modest incremental steps, each of which has fallen below the threshold that would trigger a forceful Western response. 
As a result, Beijing now has significant facilities on 12 islands in the South China Sea and operates by far the largest military, coastguard, and maritime militia presence in the region.
Amongst the military capabilities that the Chinese appear to be installing on these artificial islands are surveillance and intelligence gathering facilities, long-range anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile installations, and numerous missile and gun point-defense systems. 
Three of the islands in the Spratly group, towards of the middle of the South China Sea, now possess 10,000 foot airfields that are more than adequate to handle Boeing 747 operations. 
Hardened revetments to house 24 fighter-bomber aircraft are nearing completion on these three islands together with what appears to be extensive maintenance and storage facilities for fuel and other supplies. 
Aircraft operating from these facilities could range as far as the Andaman Sea, Northern Australia, and Guam.
These newly created islands also appear to have capacities to house, as well as operate at short notice, significant numbers of short-and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles with capabilities to strike both land-based targets and ships at sea as far away as the Sulu Sea in the Philippines and Singapore and Malaysia to the south.
Port facilities have also been built on these islands capable of refuelling and replenishing significant numbers of naval, coastguard, and maritime militia vessels. 
In addition, these islands appear to have the potential to support an underwater acoustic surveillance network across the South China Sea that would significantly enhance China’s capabilities to prosecute operations against allied submarines in the theater.
Because these three primary islands are not very small, there is space to disperse most deployed People’s Liberation Army (PLA) assets in a crisis and complicate targeting by allied forces. 
Fiery Cross Reef is now about the size of a mainland fighter base
Subi Reef is about 50 percent larger and roughly comparable in area to Pearl Harbor Naval Base
Mischief Reef is substantially larger again and would barely fit within the boundaries of the District of Columbia. 
In consequence, China appears well on the way to converting the South China Sea into something approaching a heavily defended internal waterway.
At present, innocent passage, especially by commercial vessels, is being respected. 
However, Beijing is making clear that the terms and conditions of foreign activity, even by other littoral states, will be determined and enforced by China
Relevant Chinese authorities have signalled that Beijing is considering the declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the entire South China Sea. 
Military facilities now nearing completion will permit Chinese forces to enforce any such declaration with fighter intercepts of non-complying aircraft.
Although most international observers had few doubts that many of China’s actions in the South China Sea were serious breaches of international law, the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration for UNCLOS in July 2016 made the extent of Beijing’s transgressions clear. 
It concluded unanimously that there was no legal basis for China’s claim of historic rights to the sea areas and artificial islands falling within the nine-dash line claimed by Beijing.
When confronted by China’s territorial and military expansion in the South China Sea, American leaders have almost always responded by repeating a standard mantra: We have a strong interest in free sea and air passage, we have no national claims to territories in the area, and we call on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve competing claims in accordance with international law. 
In token support of these interests, allied ships and aircraft have periodically transited the region, though they have rarely challenged China’s territorial claims directly
This response has clearly failed to deter Beijing’s territorial expansion.
Why has the approach of the United States been so timid and ineffectual? 
There have been several factors at play.
First, many in Washington and in other allied capitals have viewed the problems in the South China Sea as unwelcome distractions of little consequence that are best ignored. 
Some policymakers and commentators have argued that there is little sense in risking a major power confrontation over a “few scattered rocks” in a far distant theater.
Second, the level of importance accorded to the strategic future of the South China Sea varies greatly between allied and partner capitals. 
The general view in Washington is that the South China Sea is important but not vital. 
It is simply one of many troubled areas with which the United States must deal. 
In Tokyo, Seoul, and Canberra, the South China Sea is far more important because of its intrinsic strategic value and critical importance to their close partners who are maritime members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). 
For the littoral states of the South China Sea, the strategic balance and effective sovereignty of the region is critical for their future security and economic well-being. 
These differences in priority between the Western Pacific allies and their friends are placing strains on long-standing security relationships.
A third serious constraint has been imposed by the hub-and-spokes alliance model that has been in place in the Western Pacific since the 1950s. 
Cross-alliance (outer wheel) cooperation and combined security planning is not well-developed amongst the Western Pacific allies. 
While some progress has been made in recent years in strengthening operational coordination between Japan, Australia, South Korea and some partner countries in Southeast Asia, it is still limited and much of it is not routine. 
Washington has certainly encouraged closer cross-alliance cooperation but and it has a long way to go to approach the type of combined security planning that is habitual in Europe.
In consequence, timely, efficient, and effective alliance cooperation in response to Beijing’s operations in the South China Sea has not been straightforward.
Fourth, most citizens, almost all journalists, and many congressional and parliamentary representatives are poorly informed about Chinese operations in the South China Sea and, indeed, Beijing’s broader strategic behavior during the last decade. 
The mainstream media and Western government agencies have done a poor job of displaying the reality of what has been happening and explaining the implications.
Fifth, the development of an effective response to China’s creeping incrementalism in the South China Sea has been intrinsically difficult. 
Beijing has employed a very sophisticated strategy and operational concept that could be implemented without challenging U.S. alliance commitments or directly confronting American or allied forces. 
Moreover, Western leaders have faced numerous political and bureaucratic distractions, and it has been hard to maintain their attention on this theater.

Sixth, many Western business people and policymakers have wished to avoid any measure that could disturb their business and broader economic relationships with China. 
These concerns have been most apparent in the Western Pacific allies, as well as in American and other corporations that have invested heavily in developing close ties with Chinese enterprises. 
Chinese agencies have been active in fostering these worries, propagating false dilemmas, and exaggerating the potential consequences for regional economies of any actions taken to confront China’s assertiveness.

The success of Beijing’s information operations in Western countries is a seventh factor in accounting for the Western allies’ timidity over Chinese behavior in the South China Sea. 
These operations have been assisted by the Chinese acquisition of media enterprises in Western countries as well as the courting of key decision-makers, journalists, and academics through fully paid visits to China; the contribution of substantial funds to political parties; the establishment of pro-Beijing associations of many types, including Confucius Institutes in universities; the regular insertion of Chinese produced supplements in metropolitan newspapers; and the organization of periodic “patriotic” demonstrations, concerts, and other events by Chinese embassies, consulates, and other pro-Beijing entities. 
Cyber and intelligence operations have been used to reinforce key messages, recruit Chinese intelligence agents and “agents of influence,” and to intimidate, coerce, and deter allied counter-actions.

An eighth contributing factor is cultural. 
Western electorates appear to be more fearful of triggering confrontation and the escalation of an argument than their Chinese counterparts. 
Hugh White, a well-known observer of the region’s affairs, has even argued that the United States should not confront China’s expansionism unless its leaders are willing to “convince a majority of Americans that America should and would be willing to fight a nuclear war to preserve U.S. leadership in Asia.”
Statements such as this reflect flawed assessments of relative power, dubious assumptions about Beijing’s preparedness to use nuclear weapons against the United States, and a failure to consider the range of possible allied strategies and the very large menu of non-military options available to the allies to curb China’s adventurism.
One of the core problems with the approach of the U.S., Japanese, and Australian governments has been their serious misstatement of alliance interests. 
These allies certainly have strong interests in freedom of air and sea navigation and in seeing the competing claims in the region resolved peacefully in accordance with international law. 
However, the most powerful interests of the allies really extend beyond these limited, largely tactical, goals.
  1. In reality, the first key interest of the allies is ensuring that China does not dominate the South China Sea to the extent that it can unilaterally determine the regional order and dictate the level of sovereignty to be enjoyed by the littoral states. 
  2. A second key interest of the allies is limiting the potential for China’s acquisitive actions in the South China Sea to set a precedent for further, more aggressive illegal actions by Beijing in either the short or the long term. 
  3. A third key allied interest is ensuring that China’s serious breaches of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, its dismissal of the findings of the Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and its direct challenge to international law are not repeated.
In pursuit of these more substantive interests, the allied leaders need to choose a clear strategic concept to drive a counter-campaign. 
The most obvious options are to select a strategy of denial, a strategy of cost imposition, a strategy that attacks China’s strategy, or a strategy that undermines the leadership in Beijing. 
No matter what strategic concept is selected, an essential foundation should be a stronger and more convincing allied military posture in the Western Pacific.
Given Beijing’s actions during the last five years, there is a need to progress beyond the so-called “pivot” and “rebalancing” to a more thoroughgoing military engagement with the region that might be called the Regional Security Partnership Program
The primary goals of such a program would be to demonstrate continuing allied military superiority in the theater, deter further Chinese adventurism, and reinforce the confidence of regional allies and partners in the reliability of their Western partners so that they feel able to staunchly resist any attempted Chinese coercion.
The most effective allied strategy will be innovative and asymmetric. 
Just because Beijing has focused its most assertive actions in the South China and East China Seas in recent years using various forms of military, coast guard, maritime militia, and political warfare assets, it does not mean that the allies should counter by focusing all of their efforts in those theaters and employing those same modes. 
To the contrary, the most effective allied options are likely to focus on applying several types of pressure against the Chinese leadership’s primary weaknesses in whatever theater that is appropriate.
Such campaigns should contain a carefully calibrated mix of measures that can be sustained over an extended period. 
Candidate measures will likely extend well beyond the standard diplomatic and military domains to include geo-strategic, information, economic, financial, immigration, legal, counter-leadership, and other initiatives. 
Some of these measures would comprise declaratory policies designed to deter Chinese actions, give confidence to allies and friends, and shape the broader operating environment. 
Other measures would be classified and designed in part to keep the Chinese off-balance and encourage greater caution in Beijing.
There will certainly be people in allied countries who would prefer their governments to turn a blind eye. 
However, the nature and scale of the Chinese challenge means that a failure of the United States to respond with a robust counter-strategy would have fundamental implications for global security. 
For a start, it would effectively cede sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea to China. 
Giving Beijing effective control over such a major transport and communications expanse would have very substantial and enduring geo-strategic implications. 
It would reconfigure major parts of the security environment in the Western Pacific and seriously complicate many types of future allied operations.
The second major consequence would be acquiescence to Beijing’s serious breaches of international law. 
This would do great damage to decades of allied effort to build frameworks of international law that govern international relations, commerce, and international disputes. 
It would signal to the global community that the Western allies are not prepared to defend international law.
A third key consequence is the risk of emboldening China to launch other, potentially more serious, acquisitive operations in coming years. 
Beijing may view the timidity of other nations as an invitation to seize further strategic territories and undertake other highly assertive operations. 
Hence, by remaining timid and flat-footed, allied leaders would run a serious risk of fostering a far more serious conflict with China in coming years that would be much harder and impossible to avoid.
A fourth major consequence of failing to act in a robust manner would be damaging allied deterrence. Weak Western action at this point would send very unfortunate messages not just to Beijing, but also to Moscow and Pyongyang.
A fifth consequence of U.S. inaction would be forcing a major recalibration of defense and broader national security assumptions by almost all allied and friendly states in the Western Pacific, and many beyond. 
Given the ineffective responses of allied leaders to such serious transgressions of international law and global security norms, what changes should they make to their own security planning? 
Some are already exploring new and potentially more reliable security partnerships. 
Others may launch new programs of self-defense, yet others may surrender key elements of their sovereignty to reach accommodations with Beijing or other revisionist regimes.
The security of the Western Pacific remains a core interest of the United States and its close allies. There is a strong imperative for the incoming Trump administration to make the formulation of an effective counter-strategy an early priority.