PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Sunday, April 26, 2020








The story of Palau and its place in US military strategy





An archipelago of just 21,000 inhabitants, Palau has come to have a special place in the strategic plans of the world’s largest economy. We find out why the US places such importance on continued cooperation.
“Palau is indispensable to our national security,” claimed the US Department of Defense in its 2018 budget request, describing the need for America to meet its funding commitments to this small Pacific state as ‘key to our strategic presence in the region’.

That would be a huge accolade for any nation, but for one with a total landmass amounting to just 180 square miles, spread over a chain of some 340 islands, roughly 500 miles south east of the Philippines; it is nothing short of remarkable.

The United States’ involvement with these islands dates back to the ‘Operation Forager’ campaign of June to November 1944, which ultimately saw US forces take Palau from the Japanese after a bloody and protracted two-and-a-half months of fighting at the Battle of Peleliu. After the Second World War, Palau, which had been placed under Japanese control by the League of Nations at the end of WWI, was then put under US administration by the United Nations as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI).

The original 1947 trusteeship agreement designated the TTPI a “strategic area” and until 1951, it was controlled by the US Navy from Guam, after which time the US Department of the Interior took over from a base in Saipan.
Compact renewal

Subsequently, moves towards Palauan independence began in 1978, with Palau finally becoming a sovereign state in 1994. Before that happened, however, the country joined with its TTPI fellows, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), signing a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the USA in 1982.



Under the terms of the COFA, the US provides a package of financial assistance which is administered via the Office of Insular Affairs, and assumes responsibility for national defence and security, in return for the exclusive freedom to operate and base American armed forces across the COFA territory.

The arrangement was intended to hold sway for 50 years, with a series of phased reviews and renewals along the way. However, while the compacts with the FSM and RMI were renewed for 20 years in 2003, and despite the successful conclusion of the Compact Renewal Agreement (CRA) talks for Palau in late 2010, there has been much foot-dragging around implementing it.As late as the end of June this year, the US House Armed Services Committee was still refusing to allow the funds to be transferred .”

As late as the end of June this year, the US House Armed Services Committee was still refusing to allow the funds to be transferred from the Pentagon to the Interior Department, apparently citing reasons of ‘Congressional oversight’.

For an island chain that few could find readily on a map, and for a sum of $123.9m over seven years – scarcely a drop in the ocean of US military spending – the argument in favour of renewal has drawn some pretty heavy-weight supporters, including the Head of the US Pacific Command, Senator John McCain and even the President himself. The reasons are clear; as the Whitehouse warned in its Statement of Administration Policy on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), failing to approve the CRA risks the US losing “access and influence in a region that is increasingly contested by China.”
Strategic posture

Nearly 75 years on from the Pacific campaigns of WWII, Palau remains as strategically important as ever, commanding the approaches to Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, and flanking a number of other islands and archipelagos. Having exclusive military access to such a critically located swathe of real estate provides the US with what Admiral Harry Harris, Head of Pacific Command, has described as ‘a measurable advantage in our strategic posture in the Western Pacific’.

Perhaps more to the point, it is one which Beijing would, unquestionably, be only too ready to gain for itself, should the opportunity arise. Given China’s ongoing policy of expanding its sphere of influence in an attempt to become the preeminent power in the region, a move towards Palau would be a very real possibility if the COFA renewal fails to materialise.

For more than a decade, Beijing has been quietly encouraging the small Pacific nations, and most notably Fiji, to adopt a ‘look north’ approach and increasingly engage with Asia through China, backed up with the lure of enhanced Chinese economic and military co-operation. If the US really were to leave Palau with a funding vacuum, then it is hard to imagine that a suitably attractive offer denominated in yuan would not be forthcoming if it meant that Beijing could finally prise the island chain away from American control.
Future of the CRA

Exactly how large a hole that might leave in US military preparedness in the Asia-Pacific is hard to gauge, as very little detail is forthcoming about the precise nature of the role that Palau plays in it, beyond its very obvious strategic geography. There are very few clues to be gleaned from the terms of the COFA itself, beyond the prohibition of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from the islands and the eligibility of Palauan citizens to serve in the US armed forces.

Apart from the occasionally publicised war games, such as the Embassy evacuation exercise in August 2015, the rest of whatever it is that the US does here appears to be too sensitive to make public. It seems a case of ‘what happens in Palau, stays in Palau’ and perhaps that in itself should speak volumes about the probable future of the CRA.
“It seems a case of ‘what happens in Palau, stays in Palau’ and perhaps that in itself should speak volumes about the probable future of the CRA.”

That future is likely to be decided in the months ahead, as the 2018 NDAA moves through the House-Senate conference committee stage and Congress members look to resolve the differences of position between the two chambers. Senator John McCain’s Senate Armed Service Committee has already included approval of the CRA in its version of the Act, paving the way for the Conference committee to merge the upper and lower chambers’ proposals, and finally allow the Palau Compact to be renewed and funded.

The Senate Armed Service Committee’s argument is widely expected to prevail during the forthcoming conference discussions. While there is some understanding of the House of Representatives’ reticence over transferring budget funds from one department to another, few Washington commentators believe that this will trump the potential loss of prime operational geography, or the diminution of prestige and influence it would inevitably entail.


As military spending goes, $17.7m a year will not buy very much – perhaps a new MQ-9 Reaper drone and some change to run it, or a 10% share in an F-35. Conversely of course, it could be used to buy another year’s exclusive access to some of the most strategically important islands in the Pacific. It is very hard to see the US walking away from that sort of bargain.


The U.S. should look to establish hub and spoke base networks in the Marianas Islands, Palau, and eventually the Philippines. 
Making the Case for Increased US Basing in the Pacific
A 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress prepares to taxi down the flightline on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 22, 2019.
the Pacific, but provided few details regarding exact locations or operating concepts. Given the security situation in the Pacific, the U.S. should look to establish hub and spoke base networks in the Marianas Islands, Palau, and eventually the Philippines. Furthermore, operating concepts for the hub and spoke base networks should aim to enhance resiliency, frustrate Chinese targeting, and further the United States’ geostrategic position.

Esper’s call for additional basing is necessary based on U.S. interests, lack of current basing options, and China’s assertiveness. The recent Chinese Defense White Paper highlights China’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric, which is matched by actions in the South China Sea (SCS) and around Taiwan. These actions threaten American interests in the region, including freedom of navigation and the military geography of the U.S. position in the Pacific. Ultimately, U.S and allied military power in the region is the guarantor of the fair trade upon which the United States depends. Unfortunately, the United States has limited air bases in the region from which to project power. On the Asian mainland, the United States has only two air bases in South Korea, both of which are focused on preparing for and deterring war with North Korea. Beyond the mainland, the United States maintains air bases in Japan, but only Kadena Air Base in Okinawa is positioned to secure U.S. interests in the East China Sea (ECS) or SCS. The United States also maintains a base on Guam; however, the concentration of forces there make it a prime target for enemy operations. To help safeguard U.S. interests and to check China, the United States needs to establish a more robust base network in the region.

The United States should develop an integrated base network using a hub and spoke model. A hub and spoke base network includes a main operating base (MOB) and collocated operating bases (COBs). This is not a new idea; the U.S. Air Force used a similar model to ensure survivability during the Cold War. The Cold War model was designed for continental use but could be adapted to the Pacific. In the original model, the MOB, or hub, was where the Air Force had forces permanently stationed. The spokes — COBs — were bare bones facilities. During peacetime the majority of forces would be based at the hubs; however, indications of war would trigger dispersal to the spokes. A 1986 RAND report identifies the required and desired facilities for COBs, summarized in Table 1.




Additionally, the MOB/hub, should include significant logistics capabilities including a port, or excellent over-land connection to a port, to enable sustainment. The spokes/COBs should be bare-bones facilities which can be sustained via air or more limited surface transportation. Additionally, hubs and spokes should be mutually supporting both in terms of defensive capabilities and in their ability to handle aircraft. In terms of ability to handle aircraft, for bases to support fighters they need 8,000 feet of useable runway, while bombers and key elements U.S. ISR capabilities require 10,000 feet of runway. Finally, this model can help balance tradeoffs in other areas like security. For example, a hub could be in a more populated area to ease logistics and personnel requirements, while the bulk of the combat power might be dispersed to more remote spokes.




Given the increasing range of conventional fires, it’s unlikely that U.S. bases in the Pacific will be able to exist outside the effective range of PRC fires. That being said, hubs and spokes would complicate China’s ability to target U.S. bases. It would force the PLA to monitor more locations and to divide their forces between multiple locations. Placing the bases outside the range of the majority of PRC fires assets would further force them to divide their limited number of long-range ISR and fires assets. The most recent Department of Defense estimate provided to Congress states that the PRC has 570 ground-based launchers for short, medium, intermediate, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (SRBM, MRBM, IRBM, ICBM). However, only 80 of those, the DF-26 IRBM, would be used to target Guam, the other Marianas Islands or Palau. The remainder of the PRC’s missiles either can’t reach those targets (i.e. SRBMs and MRBMs), or are nuclear forces (i.e. ICBMs) and would be reserved for nuclear attacks (which brings up scenarios that are outside the scope of this piece). The Philippines have locations, including Clark and Subic Bay in Northern Luzon, that are within the range of some of China’s SRBMs and other areas that China could only reach with IRBMs.

The Philippines appear to offer the ideal location for U.S. bases, but it is currently politically unfeasible given President Rodrigo Duterte’s eagerness to partner with China instead of the United States. That being said, the U.S. should eye the Philippines for basing options after 2022, when the Philippines should inaugurate a new president. The Philippines has a number of excellent ports including Subic Bay, which has been a hub for U.S. operations in the past. In addition to Subic, Clark Air Base has supported U.S. air operations in the past. Beyond Clark, the Philippines has a network of established airbases that the U.S. could potentially use to enhance resiliency and complicate Chinese targeting.

However, there are some important issues associated with potential basing in the Philippines. First, the island of Luzon’s proximity to key areas – the SCS and Taiwan – is both a blessing and a curse. Luzon’s geographic location is a blessing because it means that it would be easier for aircraft to get to the potential fight, but also a curse because airbases there would be vulnerable to a greater number of Chinese ballistic missiles. Similarly, there may be a measure of security for U.S. forces operating from Luzon; the PRC may be hesitant to widen a conflict in the SCS or with Taiwan by drawing in the Philippines. However, such diplomacy is a double-edged sword; the Philippines, in an effort to avoid being drawn into a conflict with China, may prohibit the U.S. from launching combat or support missions from airbases in the Philippines similar to what Turkey did during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.Moving east from the Philippines is Palau, which has three options for U.S. bases: Koror, Peleliu, and Angaur. Koror has a port and a functioning airfield. Its airfield has a 7,200-foot runway, which makes it suitable for transport aircraft but limits its utility for fighters. Additionally, extending Koror’s airfield would require construction on the one runway servicing the islands, which would interrupt commercial traffic. Koror’s airfield has security challenges as well. It is a civil airfield and the island is a scuba diving hotspot — so it has a slew of resorts. Koror would, however, be potentially suitable as a hub for operations originating in Palau.

South of Koror are Peleliu and Angaur Islands. Peleliu has a 6,000-foot long, 40-foot wide runway that is overgrown and currently unusable. Angaur’s runway, at 7,000-feet by 150-feet, is closer in size to what would be required for combat operations. Adding 1,000 to 2,000-feet to support fighter operations, or up to 4,000-feet to support bomber and ISR operations to these runways is possible, even if it requires operations to extend them into what is now the sea. Developing Peleliu and Angaur should be politically feasible given recent statements by Palau’s president requesting modernization of these airfields. Additionally, there should be some ability to engage in burden sharing with Palau, including options to use Palau’s police force as security for U.S. forces. Peleliu and Angaur are far less visited than Koror, making them easier to secure and thus more suitable for military operations. Both islands have limited facilities, but the United States could use Koror for personnel and administrative functions while establishing bare-bones facilities at Peleliu or Angaur. U.S. forces in Palau would lack mutual support with those operating in Guam or the Marianas, but they would also force even greater complexity on Chinese targeting. That being said, if the United States were to establish multiple bases in Palau, those bases would enjoy mutual support with one another.

The U.S. should also develop airfields on its own territory in the Marianas including those on Guam, Saipan and Tinian. Guam has an excellent port, a naval base and a major Air Force Base. Andersen AFB would be an excellent hub, but right now it is without spokes. Potential spokes include airfields on Guam or in the Northern Marianas Islands.

Orote Field, located on the Navy Base Guam, has a 4,000-foot defunct runway, which could be lengthened and improved. Additionally, being on a navy base gives Orote a measure of security and logistical supportability. However, Orote is limited in its ability to complicate the PRC’s targeting, since Guam is already a likely point of interest for the PRC.

The Northern Marianas Islands (NMI) have two international airports. Tinian and Saipan both have functioning runways exceeding 8,000-feet and are between 120 and 140-miles respectively from Andersen AFB. Both islands also have defunct airfields that could be returned to service to provide a more secure location for military operations, though at higher cost than converting the international airports to dual use facilities. Tinian and Saipan could serve as spokes for the Guamanian hub, and forces in NMI would share a measure of mutual support with forces on Guam. Aircraft based at Guam could reasonably use NMI fields as divert fields. Additionally, Patriot Missile sites on Tinian or Saipan would likely overlap in coverage with those on Guam, forcing China to target multiple mutually supporting bases.

Of course, just because the United States can develop bases in the Philippines, Palau, or Marianas, doesn’t mean it should. Furthermore, additional bases should not just complicate Chinese targeting but they should also improve the United States’ geostrategic position and provide the U.S. with strategic options. Developing additional bases in Palau, the Marianas and eventually the Philippines will help the U.S. ensure the survivability of combat power in the Philippine Sea, enable force projection from the Philippine Sea, and provide multiple lines of operation converging on strategic terrain. Fighter aircraft operating from Palau or the Marianas will be operating at extreme ranges to directly support U.S. operations in support of Taiwan, the SCS or ECS. However, aircraft from Palau or the Marianas could support Navy assets operating in and from the Philippine Sea. For example, USAF fighters could provide fleet defense for a carrier-based force operating in the Philippine Sea, which would free up carrier-based fighters for offensive missions. In some respects this is similar to the concept developed in World War II of having multiple carriers operating together with one as the duty carrier and the other as a strike carrier. Of course, aircraft with longer ranges would be able to carry out independent missions as well.

Bases in Palau and the Marianas would allow the United States to ensure secure lines of communication from the Philippine Sea to key American interests in Taiwan and Okinawa. Additionally, in the event that the Philippines strengthen ties with the PRC, bases in Palau can serve to defend America’s western flank including the lines of communication between the Marianas and Okinawa and Taiwan. If the Philippines returns to the American camp, bases in Palau can help ensure lines of communication to the Philippines. With secure lines of communication, the U.S. could establish base networks in the Philippines to project power into the SCS and toward Taiwan and can look to establish additional basing options around the SCS.
US and Philippines said to be in talks on rocket system to deter Beijing’s ‘militarisation’ in South China SeaSecurity experts say the two sides have been unable to reach a deal because the American system could be too expensive for Manila

Chinese man-made islands on reefs in the disputed Spratly chain would be in striking distance if it’s deployed, according to one analysis

An influential defence think tank has urged the US to deploy the high-mobility artillery rocket system in Southeast Asian countries. 
Washington and Manila have been discussing the potential deployment of an upgraded US rocket system in a bid to deter Beijing’s “militarisation” of its artificial islands in the contested South China Sea, according to regional security experts.
But the two sides have been unable to reach a deal because the high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) could be too expensive for Manila given its tight defence budget, they said.

The allies’ defence chiefs, however, reaffirmed their “enduring alliance” on Monday in Washington, and agreed to increase the interoperability of their forces and US support for the modernisation of the Philippines’ armed forces.
The latest reaffirmation echoed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s mutual defence reassurance in Manila last month, when Pompeo singled out the threat of “China’s island-building and military activities” in the disputed waterway.

If deployed, the long-range, precision-guided rockets fired by the system would be able to strike Chinese man-made islands on reefs in the Spratly chain, one expert said.
The revelation came after an influential defence think tank, the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, warned in a new report that the US’ “freedom of navigation” operations had failed to fundamentally alter Beijing’s course in the South China Sea.


Beijing has reportedly installed anti-ship and surface-to-air missile systems on three artificial islands on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly chain, posing a potential hurdle to US military access in the contested area. It rejected a US demand that the missiles be removed during high-level diplomatic and security talks in Washington in November.











The think tank’s report released on March 21 urged the US to deploy HIMARS in Southeast Asian countries, which will “demonstrate the flexibility and variability of America’s rotational military presence”.

Friday, April 17, 2020







PREMEDITATED DISGUISED BIO WARFARE








The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies






Paramilitary officers wearing face masks to contain the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus walk along a street in Beijing, China, March 18, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
INTENTIONAL DISGUISED BIO WARFARE



With China knowing it can not compete with the USA militarily it resorted to infect the whole world attacking 123 countries and torpedo their economies.  This is a day-by-day, month-by-month breakdown of China’s coronavirus coverup and the irreparable damage it has caused around the globe.

The Timeline of a Viral Ticking Time Bomb


The story of the coronavirus pandemic is still being written. But at this early date, we can see all kinds of moments where different decisions could have lessened the severity of the outbreak we are currently enduring. You have probably heard variations of: “Chinese authorities denied that the virus could be transferred from human to human until it was too late.” What you have probably not heard is how emphatically, loudly, and repeatedly the Chinese government insisted human transmission was impossible, long after doctors in Wuhan had concluded human transmission was ongoing — and how the World Health Organization assented to that conclusion, despite the suspicions of other outside health experts.




Clearly, the U.S. government’s response to this threat was not nearly robust enough, and not enacted anywhere near quickly enough. Most European governments weren’t prepared either. Few governments around the world were or are prepared for the scale of the danger. We can only wonder whether accurate and timely information from China would have altered the way the U.S. government, the American people, and the world prepared for the oncoming danger of infection.

Some point in late 2019: The coronavirus jumps from some animal species to a human being. The best guess at this point is that it happened at a Chinese “wet market.”








December 6: According to a study in The Lancet, the symptom onset date of the first patient identified was “Dec 1, 2019 . . . 5 days after illness onset, his wife, a 53-year-old woman who had no known history of exposure to the market, also presented with pneumonia and was hospitalized in the isolation ward.” In other words, as early as the second week of December, Wuhan doctors were finding cases that indicated the virus was spreading from one human to another.

December 21: Wuhan doctors begin to notice a “cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.

December 25: Chinese medical staff in two hospitals in Wuhan are suspected of contracting viral pneumonia and are quarantined. This is additional strong evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Sometime in “Late December”: Wuhan hospitals notice “an exponential increase” in the number of cases that cannot be linked back to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.




December 30: Dr. Li Wenliang sent a message to a group of other doctors warning them about a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), urging them to take protective measures against infection.





December 31: The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission declares, “The investigation so far has not found any obvious human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infection.” This is the opposite of the belief of the doctors working on patients in Wuhan, and two doctors were already suspected of contracting the virus.

Three weeks after doctors first started noticing the cases, China contacts the World Health Organization.

Tao Lina, a public-health expert and former official with Shanghai’s center for disease control and prevention, tells the South China Morning Post, “I think we are [now] quite capable of killing it in the beginning phase, given China’s disease control system, emergency handling capacity and clinical medicine support.”

January 1: The Wuhan Public Security Bureau issued summons to Dr. Li Wenliang, accusing him of “spreading rumors.” Two days later, at a police station, Dr. Li signed a statement acknowledging his “misdemeanor” and promising not to commit further “unlawful acts.” Seven other people are arrested on similar charges and their fate is unknown.




Also that day, “after several batches of genome sequence results had been returned to hospitals and submitted to health authorities, an employee of one genomics company received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and destroy all existing samples.”

According to a New York Times study of cellphone data from China, 175,000 people leave Wuhan that day. According to global travel data research firm OAG, 21 countries have direct flights to Wuhan. In the first quarter of 2019 for comparison, 13,267 air passengers traveled from Wuhan, China, to destinations in the United States, or about 4,422 per month. The U.S. government would not bar foreign nationals who had traveled to China from entering the country for another month.

January 2: One study of patients in Wuhan can only connect 27 of 41 infected patients to exposure to the Huanan seafood market — indicating human-to-human transmission away from the market. A report written later that month concludes, “evidence so far indicates human transmission for 2019-nCoV. We are concerned that 2019-nCoV could have acquired the ability for efficient human transmission.”








Also on this day, the Wuhan Institute of Virology completed mapped the genome of the virus. The Chinese government would not announce that breakthrough for another week.

January 3: The Chinese government continued efforts to suppress all information about the virus: “China’s National Health Commission, the nation’s top health authority, ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them.”

Roughly one month after the first cases in Wuhan, the United States government is notified. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gets initial reports about a new coronavirus from Chinese colleagues, according to Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar. Azar, who helped manage the response at HHS to earlier SARS and anthrax outbreaks, told his chief of staff to make sure the National Security Council was informed.

Also on this day, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released another statement, repeating, “As of now, preliminary investigations have shown no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections.




January 4: While Chinese authorities continued to insist that the virus could not spread from one person to another, doctors outside that country weren’t so convinced. The head of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection, Ho Pak-leung, warned that “the city should implement the strictest possible monitoring system for a mystery new viral pneumonia that has infected dozens of people on the mainland, as it is highly possible that the illness is spreading from human to human.”

January 5: The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission put out a statement with updated numbers of cases but repeated, “preliminary investigations have shown no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections.

January 6: The New York Times publishes its first report about the virus, declaring that “59 people in the central city of Wuhan have been sickened by a pneumonia-like illness.” That first report included these comments:


Wang Linfa, an expert on emerging infectious diseases at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said he was frustrated that scientists in China were not allowed to speak to him about the outbreak. Dr. Wang said, however, that he thought the virus was likely not spreading from humans to humans because health workers had not contracted the disease. “We should not go into panic mode,” he said.

Don’t get too mad at Wang Linfa; he was making that assessment based upon the inaccurate information Chinese government was telling the world.

Also that day, the CDC “issued a level 1 travel watch — the lowest of its three levels — for China’s outbreak. It said the cause and the transmission mode aren’t yet known, and it advised travelers to Wuhan to avoid living or dead animals, animal markets, and contact with sick people.”

Also that day, the CDC offered to send a team to China to assist with the investigation. The Chinese government declined, but a WHO team that included two Americans would visit February 16.

January 8: Chinese medical authorities claim to have identified the virus. Those authorities claim and Western media continue to repeat, “there is no evidence that the new virus is readily spread by humans, which would make it particularly dangerous, and it has not been tied to any deaths.”

The official statement from the World Health Organization declares, “Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks . . . WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available.”

January 10: After unknowingly treating a patient with the Wuhan coronavirus, Dr. Li Wenliang started coughing and developed a fever. He was hospitalized on January 12. In the following days, Li’s condition deteriorated so badly that he was admitted to the intensive care unit and given oxygen support.

The New York Times quotes the Wuhan City Health Commission’s declaration that “there is no evidence the virus can spread among humans.” Chinese doctors continued to find transmission among family members, contradicting the official statements from the city health commission.





January 11: The Wuhan City Health Commission issues an update declaring, “All 739 close contacts, including 419 medical staff, have undergone medical observation and no related cases have been found . . . No new cases have been detected since January 3, 2020. At present, no medical staff infections have been found, and no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found.” They issue a Q&A sheet later that day reemphasizing that “most of the unexplained viral pneumonia cases in Wuhan this time have a history of exposure to the South China seafood market. No clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found.”

Also on this day, political leaders in Hubei province, which includes Wuhan, began their regional meeting. The coronavirus was not mentioned over four days of meetings.

January 13: Authorities in Thailand detected the virus in a 61-year-old Chinese woman who was visiting from Wuhan, the first case outside of China. “Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, said the woman had not visited the Wuhan seafood market, and had come down with a fever on Jan. 5. However, the doctor said, the woman had visited a different, smaller market in Wuhan, in which live and freshly slaughtered animals were also sold.”

January 14: Wuhan city health authorities release another statement declaring, “Among the close contacts, no related cases were found.” Wuhan doctors have known this was false since early December, from the first victim and his wife, who did not visit the market.


This is five or six weeks after the first evidence of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan.

January 15: Japan reported its first case of coronavirus. Japan’s Health Ministry said the patient had not visited any seafood markets in China, adding that “it is possible that the patient had close contact with an unknown patient with lung inflammation while in China.”

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission begins to change its statements, now declaring, “Existing survey results show that clear human-to-human evidence has not been found, and the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, but the risk of continued human-to-human transmission is low.” Recall Wuhan hospitals concluded human-to-human transmission was occurring three weeks earlier. A statement the next day backtracks on the possibility of human transmission, saying only, “Among the close contacts, no related cases were found.

January 17: The CDC and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection announce that travelers from Wuhan to the United States will undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco, New York (JFK), and Los Angeles airports.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission’s daily update declares, “A total of 763 close contacts have been tracked, 665 medical observations have been lifted, and 98 people are still receiving medical observations. Among the close contacts, no related cases were found.”

January 18: HHS Secretary Azar has his first discussion about the virus with President Trump. Unnamed “senior administration officials” told the Washington Post that “the president interjected to ask about vaping and when flavored vaping products would be back on the market.


January 19: The Chinese National Health Commission declares the virus “still preventable and controllable.” The World Health Organization updates its statement, declaring, “Not enough is known to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, the extent to which it has spread, or its source, which remains unknown.”

January 20: The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission declares for the last time in its daily bulletin, “no related cases were found among the close contacts.

That day, the head of China’s national health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed that two cases of infection in China’s Guangdong province had been caused by human-to-human transmission and medical staff had been infected.

Also on this date, the Wuhan Evening News newspaper, the largest newspaper in the city, mentions the virus on the front page for the first time since January 5.





January 21: The CDC announced the first U.S. case of a the coronavirus in a Snohomish County, Wash., resident who returning from China six days earlier.

By this point, millions of people have left Wuhan, carrying the virus all around China and into other countries.

January 22: WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus continued to praise China’s handling of the outbreak. “I was very impressed by the detail and depth of China’s presentation. I also appreciate the cooperation of China’s Minister of Health, who I have spoken with directly during the last few days and weeks. His leadership and the intervention of President Xi and Premier Li have been invaluable, and all the measures they have taken to respond to the outbreak.”

In the preceding days, a WHO delegation conducted a field visit to Wuhan. They concluded, “deployment of the new test kit nationally suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.” The delegation reports, “their counterparts agreed close attention should be paid to hand and respiratory hygiene, food safety and avoiding mass gatherings where possible.”

At a meeting of the WHO Emergency Committee, panel members express “divergent views on whether this event constitutes a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ or not. At that time, the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC.”

President Trump, in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, declared, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.

January 23: Chinese authorities announce their first steps for a quarantine of Wuhan. By this point, millions have already visited the city and left it during the Lunar New Year celebrations. Singapore and Vietnam report their first cases, and by now an unknown but significant number of Chinese citizens have traveled abroad as asymptomatic, oblivious carriers.

January 24: Vietnam reports person-to-person transmission, and Japan, South Korea, and the U.S report their second cases. The second case is in Chicago. Within two days, new cases are reported in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Arizona. The virus is in now in several locations in the United States, and the odds of preventing an outbreak are dwindling to zero.

On February 1, Dr. Li Wenliang tested positive for coronavirus. He died from it six days later.

One final note: On February 4, Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella urged residents to hug Chinese people to encourage them in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, a member of Associazione Unione Giovani Italo Cinesi, a Chinese society in Italy aimed at promoting friendship between people in the two countries, called for respect for novel coronavirus patients during a street demonstration. “I’m not a virus. I’m a human. Eradicate the prejudice.”




This kind of behaviour should not go on unpunished, China should bare the consequence by isolating it, and subjecting the CCP leaders like the Nuremberg trials in WWII.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020




PROLOGUE OF WWIII







US TAKE POSSESSION OF SCARBOROUGH SHOAL LOCATED AT THE GATES OF MANILA, 120 MILES WEST OF SUBIC BAY, as China would militarize Scarborough Shoal first and then move to take Taiwan, not the other way around.

“I believe China will expand its influence over Taiwan and Scarborough Shoal at the same time, as both are necessary for China to move toward the Senkakus,” THESE TOGETHER WITH SANCTIONS IN THE US SENATE MUTUALLY AGREED BY THE DEMOCRATS AND  REPUBLICAN  ALIKE







INVITE AND FORM A COALITION OF NATO AND ASEAN COUNTRIES PROMINENT ARE INDIA AND JAPAN SHOULD MEET IN THE US BEFORE WAR IS DECLARED AGAINST CHINA


The Western block would consist of the US, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The Eastern block would consist of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, basically all of the Middle East, Serbia, and Belarus. There will unlikely be any large scale fighting near American soil in a strictly conventional war situation. Firstly, let us start with Asia. The United States, Japan, and South Korea. would send their navy to counter North Korea,  and China. South Korea would strictly focus on North Korea and would win with relative ease. The United States would focus on China, and Japan would focus on North Korea and China. The United States, India and Japan would form a blockade around China. This would lead to the US and Japan destroying their nuclear launch sites and all aircraft that can carry nuclear weapons. The US air-force, assisted by Japan, would control the skies over China. They would launch devastating airstrikes and would pierce their land defenses. This would all lead to the withdrawal of China,  as they would probably not want to surrender. This would be a major victory for the US and Japan in Asia.  Overall, it would be a costly US led coalition victory. China,  would be recovering from the massive Japanese/American bombardment. North Korea would be under South Korean rule and they would begin to slowly recover and become prosperous. Japan would be trying to recover from the Chinese. They would still remain prosperous. The United States and Canada would remain relatively safe. America, being a war based economy, would profit greatly. Australia would be safe and would not really change at all.  


The underlying factors are the growth of Chinese power, Chinese dissatisfaction with the US-led regional security system, and US alliance commitments to a variety of regional states. As long as these factors hold, the possibility for war will endure.
Whatever the trigger, the war does not begin with a US pre-emptive attack against Chinese fleet, air, and land-based installations. Although the US military would prefer to engage and destroy Chinese anti-access assets before they can target US planes, bases, and ships, it is extremely difficult to envisage a scenario in which the United States decides to pay the political costs associated with climbing the ladder of escalation.
Instead, the United States needs to prepare to absorb the first blow. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the U.S. Navy (USN) and U.S. Air Force (USAF) have to wait for Chinese missiles to rain down upon them, but the United States will almost certainly require some clear, public signal of Chinese intent to escalate to high-intensity, conventional military combat before it can begin engaging Chinese forces.
If the history of World War I gives any indication, the PLA will not allow the United States to fully mobilize in order to either launch a first strike, or properly prepare to receive a first blow. At the same time, a “bolt from the blue” strike is unlikely. Instead, a brewing crisis will steadily escalate over a few incidents, finally triggering a set of steps on the part of the US military that indicate to Beijing that Washington is genuinely prepared for war. These steps will include surging carrier groups, shifting deployment to Asia from Europe and the Middle East, and moving fighter squadrons towards the Pacific. At this moment, China will need to decide whether to push forward or back down.

On the economic side, Beijing and Washington will both press for sanctions (the US effort will likely involve a multilateral effort), and will freeze each others assets, as well as those of any co-belligerents. This will begin the economic pain for capital and consumers across the Pacific Rim, and the rest of the world. The threat of high intensity combat will also disrupt global shipping patterns, causing potentially severe bottlenecks in industrial production.
Whether US allies support American efforts against China depends on how the war begins. If war breaks out over a collapse of the DPRK, the United States can likely count on the support of South Korea and Japan. Any war stemming from disputes in the East China Sea will necessarily involve Japan. If events in the South China Sea lead to war, the US can probably rely on some of the ASEAN states, as well as possibly Japan. Australia may also support the US over a wide range of potential circumstances.
China faces a less complicated situation with respect to allies. Beijing could probably expect benevolent neutrality, including shipments of arms and spares, from Russia, but little more. The primary challenge for Chinese diplomats would be establishing and maintaining the neutrality of potential US allies. This would involve an exceedingly complex dance, including reassurances about Chinese long-term intentions, as well as displays of confidence about the prospects of Chinese victory (which would carry the implicit threat of retribution for support of the United States).
North Korea presents an even more difficult problem. Any intervention on the part of the DPRK runs the risk of triggering Japanese and South Korean counter-intervention, and that math doesn’t work out for China. Unless Beijing is certain that Seoul and Tokyo will both throw in for the United States (a doubtful prospect given their hostility to one another), it may spend more time restraining Pyongyang than pushing it into the conflict.
The US will pursue the following war aims:
1. Defeat the affirmative expeditionary purpose of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
2. Destroy the offensive capability of the PLAN and People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
3. Potentially destabilize the control of the CCP government over mainland China.
4. Liberate Tibet from Chinese rule by the action of India.t


Except in the case of a war that breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, the first task involves either defeating a Chinese attempt to land forces, or preventing the reinforcement and resupply of those troops before forcing their surrender. The second task will require a wide range of attacks against deployed Chinese air and naval units, as well as ships and aircraft held in reserve. We can expect, for example, that the USN and USAF will target Chinese airbases, naval bases, and potentially missile bases in an effort to maximize damage to the PLAN and PLAAF. The third task probably depends on the successful execution of the first two. The defeat of Chinese expeditionary forces, and the destruction of a large percentage of the PLAN and the PLAAF, may cause domestic turmoil in the medium to long term. US military planners would be well-advised to concentrate the strategic campaign on the first two objectives and hope that success has a political effect, rather than roll the dice on a broader “strategic” campaign against CCP political targets. The latter would waste resources, run the risk of escalation, and have unpredictable effects on the Chinese political system.

Japan is very much the flavor of the current Indian season. Especially when juxtaposed against China, Japan is acknowledged by New Delhi as being one of the most significant maritime players in the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, Japan’s steadily deteriorating and increasingly fractious relationship with China is a prominent marker of the general fragility of the geopolitical situation prevailing almost throughout the Indo-Pacific. Within this fragile environment, New Delhi is seeking to maintain its own geopolitical pre-eminence in the IOR and relevance in the Indo-Pacific as a whole by adroitly managing China’s growing assertiveness. In this process, Japan and the USA (along with Australia, Vietnam, South Korea, and Indonesia) collectively offer India a viable alternative to Sino-centric hegemony within the region. However, before it places too many of its security eggs in a Japanese basket, it is important for India to examine at least the more prominent historical and contemporary contours of the Sino-Japanese relationship. As India expands her footprint across the Indo-Pacific and examines the overtures of Japan and the USA to seek closer geopolitical coordination with both, it is vital to ensure that our country and our navy are not dragged by ignorance, misinformation or disinformation, into the law of unintended consequences.




Map of Sea of Japan.  This could be the scenario in the conflict between India, Japan and USA against China and Russia. Although the videos are cartoon like, they are mostly accurate to some degree. With Japan, Ausrtalia, UK and Vietnam alliance China will be overwhelmed.











The influence of China, with its ancient and extraordinarily well-developed civilization, upon the much younger civilization of Japan has been enormous. Even the sobriquet for Japan — the Land of the Rising Sun — is derived from a Chinese perspective, since when the Chinese looked east to Japan they looked in the direction of the dawn. As Japan began to consolidate itself as a nation, between the 1st and the 6th Century CE, it increasingly copied the Chinese model of national development, administration, societal structure and culture. And yet, for all that, there is also a history of deep animosity between the two countries, which manifested itself across of whole range of actions and reactions. At one end was China’s disapproval of Japan attempting to equate itself with the Middle Kingdom (as when Japan Prince Shotoku, in 607 CE, sent a letter to the Sui emperor, Yangdi, “from the Son of Heaven in the land where the sun rises to the Son of Heaven in the land where the sun sets.”) At the other, lay armed conflict. Over the course of the past two millennia, Japan and China have gone to war five times. The common thread in each has been a power struggle on the Korean Peninsula. Even their more contemporary animosity dates back to at least 1894 — during the Meiji Restoration in Japan. It is true that, much like India and Pakistan, relations between China and Japan have witnessed periods of great optimism. For instance, Sino–Japanese relations in the 1970s and early 1980s were undeniably positive and ‘historical animosity’ was not a factor strong enough to foster tensions between the two nations at the time. However, it is also true, once again like India and Pakistan, that these periods of hope have been punctuated by a mutuality of visceral hatred. In the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, China, which was mired in political conflict and civil war, suffered eight months of comprehensive defeats leading, amongst other indignities, to the occupation of Taiwan by Japan. The historical echoes of this horrific conflict and its humiliating aftermath for China resonate to this day.


The South China Sea has never occupied the top rung on Beijing’s foreign policy agenda, except perhaps during the Philippines’ initiation of arbitration against China’s claims of historic rights in 2013 and the Hague tribunal’s decision in 2016. Given economic reforms, protests in Hong Kong, President Tsai Ing-wen’s renewed mandate in Taiwan, censure of its security policies in Xinjiang, trade talks and great power rivalry with the United States, and the ongoing public health crisis of the novel coronavirus, Beijing will have its hands full. It may have little left in its tank for the South China Sea. In contrast, the six-way territorial and maritime row represents the most pressing security and foreign policy priority for other claimants. This sharp asymmetry may stimulate a willingness on the part of the biggest claimant to concede and negotiate with other disputants. That would jive well with China’s stated intention to project good neighborliness and settle the issue among the claimants without intervention by other powers. However, this readiness for dialogue may not necessarily extend to other maritime powers, especially as the South China Sea gradually emerges as a theater for great power competition.
China is apparently taking a more active role in conveying its narrative and engaging international think-tanks and publics. In April 2019, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative was launched by the Peking University Institute of Ocean Research. Earlier this year, the initiative has already held exchanges with regional counterparts in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This is on top of the Hainan-based National Institute for South China Sea Studies setup in 2004 which has also been holding exchanges with foreign counterparts. Whether these attempts at public diplomacy allay concerns among Southeast Asian claimants remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the high priority given to the dispute by other claimants means that they will exhaust the broad gamut of defense, diplomatic, and legal redress to safeguard their interests. Vietnam, for instance, concluded the 11th iteration of its Diplomatic Academy’s annual South China Sea conference in November 2019, drawing local and international experts. But pushback against Chinese incursions tends to wax and wane, and approaches vary among claimants. The nature of the threat posed by Chinese actions and the degree of economic ties with China are important variables to consider here.
Having lost the Paracels in 1974 and Johnson Reef in 1988, not to mention fighting China in a bitter land border war in 1979, Vietnam traditionally pushes back the hardest. Possible resort to legal means and international forums, especially as the country chairs ASEAN this year and assumes a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council (2020-2021), will diversify Hanoi’s toolkit and raise the stakes for future Chinese interference in Vietnam’s marine economic activities. The Philippines took a tougher stance after losing Mischief Reef in 1995 and control over Scarborough Shoal in 2012. The first incident pushed the country to modernize its armed forces (1995) and eventually sign a Visiting Forces Agreement (1999) with its longtime treaty ally, the United States. The second incident compelled the country to launch a legal challenge to China’s excessive maritime claims (2013) and allow U.S. troops a rotational presence in mutually agreed locations throughout the country via the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (2014). Last year, Manila also sought and obtained greater clarity on the scope of its Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States. However, Manila’s recent move to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement may undercut the value of the alliance at a time of growing Chinese presence in the disputed sea.
Further from China’s reach, Malaysia and Brunei have long pursued quiet diplomacy. But with Chinese outposts now  enabling distant fishing fleets and patrols to scour the sea’s southern reaches, they, as well as Indonesia, may eventually recalibrate their strategy. Indonesia’s tough response to foreign illegal fishing in its waters and its strong posturing in the Natunas creates disquiet in its relations with China as well as with ASEAN neighbors like Vietnam. Thus, China’s assertiveness and the smaller claimants’ heightened sense of insecurity generates the potential for conflict, drawing other major powers in—to Beijing’s displeasure.
In addition, in the interest of gaining legitimacy, smaller claimants have been aligning their maritime claims with international law, notably the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Malaysia’s submission of its second extended continental shelf (ECS) claim in the South China Sea last December is instructive. Prior to that, Vietnam and Malaysia jointly submitted an ECS claim in 2009, a move which compelled Beijing to officially articulate its nine-dash line claim. The Philippines, meanwhile, ratified its first ever maritime boundary delimitation agreement with Indonesia last year. These legal foundations may serve to pressure Beijing to bring its claims into conformity with international law. This is especially so after the landmark 2016 arbitral award invalidated China’s claimed “historic rights” and ruled that none of the features in the contested Spratly Islands are capable of generating exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Other claimants will likely continue to pursue their own ECS submissions and EEZ delimitations in the South China Sea.
Southeast Asian claimants will also push back against Chinese overtures to upend security engagement and offshore energy undertakings with other countries in the South China Sea. The deep and complex web of alliances and partnerships, to which security and economic engagement with China forms just one part, is integral to ASEAN’s centrality and autonomy, an aspiration threatened by growing major power rivalry. The 2019 defense white papers of Malaysia and Vietnam both recognized this context of great power competition. Hanoi, for one, added a new caveat in its defense policy, expressing readiness to develop military relations with other countries while still upholding its four nos policy: no military alliances, no siding with one country against another, no foreign military bases, and no use of force or threat to use force in its international relations. This is a significant departure in Vietnam’s strategic thinking and goes to show the extent to which Chinese actions are driving such shifts.
In relation to hydrocarbons in the South China Sea, Southeast Asian claimants resist Chinese demands to terminate upstream contracts with foreign companies from non-claimant states because doing so would adversely affect investor confidence even outside the energy sector. For example, despite being compelled to suspend Spanish firm Repsol’s offshore work in 2017 and 2018, Vietnam continued to encourage Russian, Japanese, Indian, and U.S. energy companies to operate in its EEZ in the South China Sea. The Philippines likewise suggested it would welcome involvement from Russian energy company Rosneft in the country’s oil and gas projects. This said, the continued retreat of Western investors from offshore projects around the South China Sea may facilitate Beijing’s proposed joint development model by leaving its neighbors with few options. For instance, the exit of U.S.-based Chevron from Malampaya, the Philippines’ largest natural gas field located in the South China Sea, and the purchase of its equity by Udenna Group may pave the way for China National Offshore Oil Corporation to acquire a stake in the aging gas field that supplies up to 40 percent of the electricity for Luzon, the country’s main island. Last year, Phoenix Petroleum, one of Udenna’s companies, signed a deal with the Chinese state-owned company to develop a liquified natural gas terminal. ExxonMobil was also rumored to be exiting from the Blue Whale project off Vietnam as part of the company’s divestment efforts.
In sum, notwithstanding bilateral and regional efforts at dispute management and confidence building, the level of importance that claimants will assign to the South China Sea disputes and the extent to which they will push back against coercion will foretell how tempestuous the South China Sea will get in 2020.



Strategy to Defeat China in The SCS



The air campaign in Desert Storm was a watershed for air power. It demonstrated the effectiveness of precision munitions, marked a high water point for electronic warfare and introduced radar stealth in a decisive manner. It also established a template for the application of air power that has taken root in Air Force culture and remains firmly established a quarter century later.


The USS Ronald Reagan transits the South China Sea, cc Flickr Official U.S. Navy Page, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ / SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 5, 2016) The Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the South China Sea. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released) 160705-N-OI810-110During this COVID-19 global crisis, when
Before the shooting war begins, and after a hostile action made by China, activate naval and air forces in blocading Chinese economic access to the western Pacific and the sources of oil in the Sumatran Straights. In effect all US forces are in their full readiness without the time element of transporting from the distant mainland of the US.  At the outset of the shooting war, sink all  surface Chinese ships and submarine, after radar and SAM coastal batteries have been neutralized using our airforce stealth bombers and jet fighters.








Continue to limit the access of the Chinese Surface ships to the Western Pacific  islands  by mining the ports and islands. Limit the energy resource and commercial maritime intercourse which China is so dependent upon. The primary objective here is to effectively neutralize certain elements of PRC military power by starving it of energy. In contrast with maritime interdiction, strategic interdiction is not an airtight blockade but a targeted effort to interdict primarily the production and transport of energy resources all the way back to the source. A campaign would have four elements:


A “counterforce” effort designed to stop the adversary air forces (particularly bombers), naval forces (gray hulls) and naval auxiliaries (replenishment) to the point where they can neither project military power nor defend against U.S. power projection, at least far beyond the PRC continental shelf.


Chinese military force design has been built specifically to counter the U.S. Air Force’s reliance on stealth and forward basing, and to reduce the threat of carrier aviation by developing weapons designed to keep the carriers far away from the action. Our response has been to plan to fight symmetrically, matching our technological widgets against theirs in a battle in the PRC’s front yard.


The most prominent Sino-Japanese contributor to contemporary geopolitical fragility is the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands dispute. This is an extremely high-risk dispute that could very easily lead to armed conflict, especially in the wake of Japan’s nationalization of three of the islands in September 2013. Reacting strongly to this unilateral action by Japan, China established an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on 23 November, 2013, encompassing (inter alia) these very islands. This, in turn, was immediately challenged by the USA, Japan, and South Korea. Within days of the Chinese declaration, military aircraft from all three countries flew through China’s ADIZ without complying with the promulgated ADIZ regulations. Perhaps because of the robustness of this response, China has not been enforcing this ADIZ with any great vigour, but has not withdrawn it either. It is appreciated that this is a long-term play, because China would acquire strategic advantage by asserting a maximalist position, then seeming to back down, while preserving some incremental gain — akin to a ‘ratchet’ effect. This is an example of ‘salami slicing’ — of which much has been made in a variety of Indian and Western media.


China’s increased military activities in this maritime area have certainly caused a fivefold rise in the frequency with which Japanese fighter jets have been forced to scramble in preparedness against Chinese aircraft intrusions into Japanese airspace over the East China Sea (ECS). Japanese aircraft have moved up from 150 scrambles in 2011 to a staggering 1,168 scrambles in FY 2016-17. (The Japanese FY, like that of India, runs from 01 April to 31 March.) Given that fighter pilots are young, aggressive, and trained to use lethal force almost intuitively, this dramatic increase in frequency of scrambles causes a corresponding increase in the chance of a miscalculation on the part of one or both parties that could result in a sudden escalation into active hostilities. 


Even more worrying is the prospect that once China completes her building of airfields on a sufficient number of reefs in the Spratly Island Group, she would promulgate an ADIZ in the South China Sea. Should she do so, the inevitable challenges to such an ADIZ would probably bring inter-state geopolitical tensions to breaking point.


All in all, the increased militarization and current involvement of the armed forces of both countries in the Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands have grave implications for geopolitical stability. To cite a well-used colloquialism, “once you open a can of worms, the only way you can put them back is to use a bigger can.” In the case of the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands, both Japan and the PRC have certainly opened ‘a can of worms’ and now both are looking for a bigger can. Thus, both countries are jockeying for geopolitical options with both the USA as well as with other geopolitical powers that can be brought around to roughly align with their respective point of view. Japan’s alliance with the USA and its active wooing of India and Australia with constructs such as Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond is one such ‘larger can.’ 


Yet, Japan’s geopolitical insecurities in its segment of the Indo-Pacific are not solely about the Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands. Japan’s apprehension in 2004-05 that China’s exploitation of the Chunxiao gas field (located almost on the EEZ boundary line — as Japan perceives it) was pulling natural gas away from the subterranean extension of the field into the Japanese side of the EEZ boundary brought the two countries to the brink of a military clash. While the situation has been contained for the time being, it remains a potential flashpoint. Across the Sea of Japan /East Sea lie other historical and contemporary challenges in the form of the two Koreas, a Russia that appears to be in a protracted state of geopolitical flux, and of course, the omnipresent elephant in the room, namely, the People’s Republic of China.


Closer home, Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) is present and surprisingly active in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well. Its interest in maintaining freedom of navigation within the International Shipping Lanes to and from West Asia in general, and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden in particular, are well known features of Tokyo’s ‘energy security’ and ‘security-of-energy’ policies. Off the Horn of Africa at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aden, the ‘war-lord-ism’ that substitutes for governance in Somalia is a source of strategic concern at a number of levels.




Chinese soldiers sit atop tanks as they drive in a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing on Oct. 1. KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES







Many observers believe China is building up its military, especially its navy, to break through the first and second island chains and push the United States out of the Asia-Pacific. China’s military expansion in the region is thus seen as a major threat against U.S. interests and security.

But there’s a big problem with the language involved. Phrases like “pushing the United States out of the Asia-Pacific,” “China’s military expansion in Asia,” or “breaking the two island chains” create the image of a physical process, of the Chinese military pressuring U.S. troops and bases in the Asia-Pacific until they can no longer resist and are forced to leave. In reality, both the goal and the process are different—and unless U.S. strategists rectify the way they think about this, they could come to dangerous conclusions.

This isn’t about a physical outcome, but a political one. It doesn’t refer just to U.S. bases in Japan or South Korea. The United States has no permanent bases in the Philippines, but, because of the two countries’ mutual defense treaty, U.S. troops would defend the Philippines in case of attack. China’s goal isn’t just to remove U.S. personnel or equipment from the region, or even to prevent rotational deployments or joint exercises in the Asia-Pacific; it’s to limit or eliminate Washington’s influence over countries in the region, including, ideally, through the termination of their defense treaties and the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the United States to support Taiwan’s defense.

This doesn’t mean that China is looking to completely extricate the United States from Asian and Pacific countries: It’s OK if they continue trading, or if U.S. companies invest there. But China’s goal is to constrain Washington’s influence to the point that it would no longer try, or would be unable, to convince regional governments to take measures against China such as banning Huawei fifth-generation technology.As long as Washington remains their chief partner, the U.S. government would still be able to convince Tokyo and Seoul to take anti-China measures.

It will help Beijing little if U.S. troops leave Japan and South Korea, but their mutual defense treaties remain in force. As long as Washington remains their chief partner, the U.S. government would still be able to convince Tokyo and Seoul to take anti-China measures, such as restricting Chinese tech companies it considers national-security threats—even if the assurance of U.S. troops as a tripwire against aggression were removed.

Yet in both Beijing and Washington, there’s a belief that, if China establishes regional military superiority over the United States, it will be able to push the United States out of the Asia-Pacific region. But transforming that military superiority into political influence is far trickier than it seems.

Imagine that it’s 2025, and China’s military has become stronger and more active, while the United States failed to keep up in the Asia-Pacific. Think tanks and experts warn that the military balance has shifted in China’s favor and, in case of war, it’s likely that it would prevail. Would U.S. allies, from Seoul to Canberra, decide to ditch the United States and align themselves with the rising hegemon, fulfilling demands such as Chinese sovereignty over the archipelago in the South China Sea known as the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, or censorship of local anti-China voices? Or would they stick to the United States, building up their military capabilities and strengthening other military alliances?

Both U.S. allies and neutral countries in the Asia-Pacific already fear China’s growing power and its geopolitical demands. This is happening while the military balance is still in Washington’s favor. If China becomes more powerful, it will also become more threatening. With the exception of India, all other regional countries are dwarfed by China. If left alone, they would have to acquiesce to any and all demands coming from Beijing, as they would stand zero chance of prevailing in a bilateral military conflict.

The United States, even if weaker than China, would be their only hope in such an adverse geopolitical environment. A more menacing China would also galvanize the U.S.government and public to confront it. Military expansion can’t achieve China’s goals by itself.Unless the United States willingly abandons its competition with China, Beijing will never create the military gap necessary to scare the entire region into submission.

Chinese military power could force the United States out of the region in two scenarios: a China so dwarfing the U.S, presence in the region that its might is unassailable, or a decisive military victory. The first scenario needs the United States to weaken so much that regional military planners would no longer believe that it can impose enough costs on China, thus voiding alliances of any deterrent effect. Combined with Chinese economic sanctions or military skirmishes, Asian and Pacific countries might be forced to cut ties with the United States, if it’s clear that they serve no defense purpose. But the odds of a U.S. government ever allowing so vast a gap to emerge are very low.

The other scenario, a war, would necessitate a crystal-clear military victory over the United States, maybe including the invasion and occupation of an ally. A simple tactical win wouldn’t suffice. If China defeats the Japan-U.S. alliance by sinking a few ships and bombing some bases, leading to a diplomatic agreement that gave Beijing control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, would the Japanese government later surrender its defense treaty with the United States and remain at Beijing’s mercy? This would make no strategic sense. More likely, it would strengthen military ties with the United States and maybe develop a nuclear capability to deter any further Chinese threats. Only a devastating defeat in a full-blown conflict that risks nuclear war could achieve such a goal—something China desires as little as anyone else.