China's View: It Is the US That Is Militarizing the South China Sea
March 4, 2016
Zhang Junshe / People's Daily Online Op-ed & Franz-Stefan Gady / The Diplomat
The US has recently accused China of militarizing the South China Sea. However, evidence suggests that it is the US rather than China who is actually militarizing the region. The US has not only acquired access to eight military bases in the Philippines, but the superpower is also increasing its military presence in Singapore and sending warships and aircraft to the South China Sea while provocative "navigation freedom" actions destroy peace and escalate regional tensions.
It Is the US That Is Militarizing the South China Sea
Zhang Junshe / People's Daily Online Op-ed
BEIJING (February 25, 2016) -- The US has recently been hyping the idea that China is militarizing the South China Sea. It first criticized China for deploying missiles in Yongxing Island, then claimed in a report that China is building a radar system on islands or reefs in the Nansha Islands.
However, plenty of evidence suggests that it is the US rather than China who is actually militarizing the South China Sea.
First, the US is clearly "a thief calling on others to catch a thief" when accusing China of escalating militarization in the South China Sea.
It is the US that has been enhancing military deployment in neighboring regions of the South China Sea.
The US not only acquired access to eight military bases in the Philippines, the superpower has also continued increasing its military presence in Singapore and sent warships and aircraft to the South China Sea.
What's more, it has repeatedly pressured its allies and partners to conduct targeted military drills and patrols to play up regional tension.
Besides selling weaponry to the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, the US also repeatedly sent missile destroyers, strategic bombers and anti-submarine patrol aircraft to approach or even enter relevant reefs and islands, as well as the adjacent waters and air space of China's Nansha and Xisha Islands. Such acts betray ambition to provoke China.
Secondly, the US obviously has a guilty conscience when criticizing China for deploying national defense.
As islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been an indisputable part of China's territory since ancient times, China is entitled to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
By deploying necessary defense for its own territory, China is exercising the right of self-preservation granted by international law to sovereign states. This has nothing to do with militarization and is completely legitimate.
China's defense is not fundamentally different from the defense installation by the US in Hawaii. If other countries have zero intention to threaten China's sovereignty and security, they needn't worry about defensive measures.
Thirdly, the US revealed its double standard when criticizing China's construction on the Nansha Islands.
Such construction falls completely within China's sovereignty. The light houses built by China on its stationed islands and reefs, as well as the facilities for meteorological observation, emergency shelter and rescue, are public services and goods offered by China to the international community as the largest coastal state in the South China Sea.
They are by no means military facilities, but the US has continued picking on China nonetheless.
In contrast, the US turns a blind eye to military actions taken by the Philippines and Vietnam on the Nansha Islands, which they illegally occupy.
Lastly, so-called "safeguarding navigation freedom" is just a cover-up for the US to destroy peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The US military has been carrying out "navigation freedom" activities for a long time. Such activities, in essence, are challenges to other countries' sovereignty and jurisdiction in their own waters and exclusive economic zones. The US carries out these activities just to maintain its own maritime supremacy.
The freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea, to which all countries are entitled under international law, has never been threatened. Over 100,000 vessels from various countries pass through the region every year without a hitch.
However, the "navigation freedom" actions conducted by the US destroy peace and tranquility in the South China Sea and escalate regional tensions.
Not only won't this selfish and overbearing act help to peacefully resolve the South China Sea issue, it will further disrupt regional peace and stability.
The US must realize that as a party not concerned in the South China Sea issue, it should respect the efforts of China and concerned nations to peacefully handle their own disputes and safeguard the stability of the region.
If the US intends to make sincere contributions, the best way is to stop stirring up tensions through risky military actions in the South China Sea.
The author is a research fellow of China's Naval Research Institute.
Japan and Philippines Sign Defense Agreement
Amid Growing Tensions in South China Sea
Franz-Stefan Gady / The Diplomat
(March 1, 2016) -- This Monday, Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement that will significantly boost defense cooperation between the two countries, including a new framework for the supply of military hardware and technology as well as provisions for joint research and development projects, AP reports.
In addition, the new pact outlines joint military training and the donation of used military equipment to the Philippines. This is the first time that Japan has signed such an agreement with a Southeast Asian country. (Japan had so far only signed similar defense pacts with Australia and the United States.)
The agreement was signed by Philippine Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin and the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines, Kazuhide Ishikawa, this Monday in Manila.
"This agreement would really substantiate the Philippines and Japan being strategic partners," Gazmin said, according to AP. "Let me stress that what underpins this agreement is not only our desire to enhance our respective defense capabilities but also to contribute to regional peace and stability."
On the weekend, Gazmin, in an attempt to assuage China's fears over the deepening defense ties between Tokyo and Manila, also emphasized that this new defense pact is "not directed against any country." Neither Gazmin nor Ishikawa mentioned China by name during today's signing ceremony at the Philippine Department of Defense.
According to a senior Philippine security official interviewed by AP, the agreement "opens the door to a lot of opportunities beyond the confines of mere equipment transfer or sale."
Tokyo and Manila will hold a separate meeting to discuss details of what military hardware will be supplied by Japan to the Philippines. "They haven't offered what we can buy," Gazmin said. "There needs to be a wish list." The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in particular are seeking to boost their intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
In November 2015, Tokyo announced that it plans to transfer three used Beechcraft TC-90 King Air patrol planes fitted with basic surface and air surveillance radar to the AFP by the the fall of 2016. Both sides are also in talks over new P-3C Orions patrol aircraft. As my colleague Prashanth Parameswaran explained previously:
The equipment will be in addition to previously announced moves, including the transfer of ten patrol boats to the Philippines announced back in 2013 confirmed to begin in 2016 (See: "Japan Wins New Philippine Defense Deal").
Both sides have also committed to exploring a visiting forces agreement that would give Tokyo access to Manila's military facilities that the United States and Australia now enjoy (See: "Japan, Philippines Seeking New Pact on Military Bases").
In 2016 the AFP intend to procure two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft, three aerial surveillance radars, and the first two out of a total of 12 FA50 light fighter jets ordered from South Korea (See: "Philippines Push for Military Modernization in new Budget Proposal").
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