mercredi 12 avril 2017

Sina Delenda Est

China's Chilling Plan To Become The Maritime Police Officer Of Asia
By Ralph Jennings

The presidents of China and the United States just exchanged views on geopolitics during their first-ever meeting.
But at least in public Xi Jinping made no commitments beyond platitudes about working together on easing the pains of a nuclear-capable North Korea and re-harmonizing a strained trade relationship with the United States. 
We’ve seen little from the April 6-7 meeting in Florida about the South China Sea, where Beijing is quickly gaining ground on five rival governments and the United States wants to limit its control.

This photo taken on January 2, 2017 shows Chinese J-15 fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier is one of the latest steps in the years-long build-up of China's military. 

The lack of commitments to the United States, its only formidable military adversary, gives the Chinese position another boost in the South China Sea dispute. 
The tropical sea spans 3.5 million square kilometers (1.4 million square miles). 
Heaps of oil and natural gas await under the seabed and world-class fisheries fill the water. 
Barring U.S. intervention, China will follow this five-point plan to become a de facto ruler of the sea with the power to make everyone else seek its permission to use it.
  1. Keep ignoring the world arbitration court ruling of 2016. A tribunal of the world court in The Hague ruled in July that much of China’s claim to 90-plus percent of the sea lacked legal merit. China called the ruling a “farce” then. As time passes with a dwindling outcry from abroad, it gets only easier to ignore. The Hague can’t enforce the ruling on its own.
  2. Talk individually with rival countries in Southeast Asia. China has talked to the smallest claimant, Brunei, about trade and investment since before the arbitration outcome. In October it began a dialogue with the Philippines, which had filed for the world court ruling, aimed at some solution to their conflicting South China Sea claims. Vietnam and China stepped up dialogue late last year and into this year with an eye toward their own maritime cooperation.
  3. Offer aid and investment to other claimants. China has the world’s No. 2 economy and, increasingly, the political will to spread it around overseas. It’s helping Brunei run the country’s major port and three years ago the two sides set up an “economic corridor.” China pumps enough money into Malaysia to be its top investment source. The Philippines got pledges of $24 billion in Chinese development aid in October and Vietnam is seeing a boom in Chinese tourism. Taking points 1-3 together, Southeast Asian countries with maritime claims should first sidestep the world court ruling, then enter a dialogue and finally get goodies from China to help their own economies. They happen to know China doesn’t mind cutting back economic ties with countries that go against its political will.
  4. Build up disputed islets and install surveillance technology. Over the past half-decade China has reclaimed land to expand tiny islets it occupies in the sea’s Paracel and Spratly chains. It’s nearly ready for air combat facilities and radar systems on some islets, according to the American think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Separately, government agencies are preparing to install an underwater observation system somewhere in the sea, official media reports in China say. The platform could send data back to land on undersea oil reserves and monitor what other countries are doing in the same body of water. “What it does is it lets them make a reality out of what they’re been claiming,” initiative director Gregory Poling says. “Obviously they don’t have a legal leg to stand on, and they know that," he says. "That doesn’t really matter if Chinese vessels… are just swamping the region in numbers and capabilities.”
  5. Use its technology to patrol the whole sea. Here’s the climax. The other claimant countries are talking to China and getting Chinese economic support – while China passes ships and explores for resources as it wishes despite old disputes. To make sure this formula works, China will use the surveillance tools outlined in item 4 to learn what everyone else is doing. Some analysts believe Beijing will eventually use that intelligence to make foreign fishing boats and oil rigs register first to use tracts of the sea that China calls its own. China will get a pivotal chance to use that power from May through August, the term of an unusually strict fishing moratorium covering waters used by Vietnam and the Philippines.

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