LOS ANGELES, July 9 – China’s leading foreign affairs and military experts have called on Beijing to take a tougher approach to mounting tensions in the South China Sea ahead of a key regional summit in Cambodia this week.
Talk about a fool’s errand.
The hawks insist that China should rethink its current policies in handling territorial disputes and act more assertively to strengthen its sovereignty claims over the contested areas.
The South China Morning Post reports that the suggestions came on the eve of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) talks in Phnom Penh today, where the South China Sea dispute is expected to dominate meetings.
The mainland speakers at yesterday’s forum suggested that existing security mechanisms in Asia were ineffective, resulting in uncertainty over regional stability.
“The situation in the South China Sea does not look optimistic,” said Luo Yuan, a retired People’s Liberation Army major general known for his hawkish view.
In Britain, they refer to retired military men as Colonel Blimps. And with good reason: they are usually full of hot air, a point underlined by this particular gentlemen.
“While China’s neighbors are under public pressure [to act upon the disputes], the Chinese military is faced with the same pressure,” said Luo, vice-president of the China Strategy Culture Promotion Association.
It was not described as a think-tank.
“China’s patience has been tested to its limits, and there is no room for further tolerance,” he said. Goodness, does that mean the erstwhile Marxist state is now headed for the barricades?
Beijing is said to have “locked horns” with Hanoi and Manila over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea in recent months.
Actually, Beijing has been sticking its nose in the wrong places recently – as far east as Palau.
Meanwhile, SCMP says that the tensions continued to escalate with Hanoi and Manila opposing Beijing’s plan to establish Sansha, a newly-created prefectural-level city to administer the Spratly, Paracel and Macclesfield Bank island chains and nearby waters.
The paper reported that more than 200 protesters on Sunday took to Hanoi’s streets in the second anti-China rally in the Vietnamese capital this month amid heightened territorial tensions over the South China Sea.
Is that at all surprising given China’s assertiveness in the region?
Despite the protests, though, Cui Liru, who serves as president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Beijing had previously focused too much on shelving disputes and seeking common grounds with its neighbors.
He said a new approach was needed because of “changes” in the situation.
“We have come to realize that perhaps we need to do more in terms of demonstrating China’s sovereignty [over the disputed territories]. Something has been done, but we still need to do more,” he said.
Let’s see… Does this mean action? Does it mean that China will bring out its gunboats and start firing on anyone who fails to toe the line?
SCMP failed to describe the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations as a think-tank, and with good reason.
SCMP quoted Cui as saying that most regional security mechanisms have “failed” to achieve their purpose, which is to foster stability, because of conflicting views among countries and the implications on their foreign policies due to domestic pressures.
Not much think there, as you can see for yourself. But don’t forget the tanks.
“In the foreseeable future, say at least in five years, the Asia-Pacific region will still be showing every feature of a transitional period, which is characterized by a certain level of chaos,” he said.
What’s that great phrase of James Joyce? It’s time to wipe your glosses?
As SCMP reports, Beijing turned up the heat on the rival South China Sea claimants by announcing last month the establishment of Sansha after Hanoi passed a maritime law that requires all foreign ships passing through the disputed waters to notify Vietnamese authorities.
The Chinese defense ministry said last month it was considering setting up a military command unit in the new city.
“It is necessary to set up defense facilities when we establish a new city, especially when it comes to border issues,” Luo said. “The military unit in Sansha will be equipped with a high-level crisis management mechanism, and focus on air and navy defense.”
Defense? Do the Chinese really believe that Vietnam will be on the attack any time soon? Please, start issuing gas masks. Send one to California right away!
According to SCMP, the highlight of the Asean Regional Forum this week will be the security dialogue attended by foreign ministers from 27 nations on July 12 – an event that has seen many countries express deepening concern over the South China Sea in the last two years.
Almost ominously, SCMP reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will attend the Phnom Penh meetings, as will U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Does that suggest a show-down?
NO U.S. ‘MEDDLING’
Zhu Chenghu, director general of strategic studies at the National Defence University, said at the forum yesterday that the South China Sea disputes could be resolved if there was no meddling by the U.S.
“I am confident peace and stability will be maintained as long as there is no external intervention,” he said. “The U.S. is the major external factor.”
In other words, the U.S. should politely withdraw from the region and let the Chinese dragon do its will. Uh huh. As Confucius say: Chinese dragon blow too much smoke.
© Glamma Productions Inc. 2012