Lessons from Paracels VIII: The neo ‘Gun Boat’ diplomacy, Panda Projection of Power

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvress intimidating neighbour nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

United States gets sounding out despite iterated their presence and projection of power in East Asia and South East Asia is the Yankees’ interpretation of ‘Re-Balance of Power’, amidst China’s expansionary mode, arrogance and attitude playing the role of ‘neigbourhood bully’ and protagonist.

The Wall Street Journal story:

U.S., China Defense Chiefs Trade Barbs Over Regional Ambitions

Chang Wanquan Tells Chuck Hagel: China ‘Can Never Be Contained’

Updated April 8, 2014 1:26 p.m. ET
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, left, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday. Reuters
BEIJING—Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s call for a new model in relations with Beijing’s military swiftly ran into headwinds Tuesday as China’s defense minister castigated the U.S. and its allies for raising tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

Standing side-by-side during Mr. Hagel’s first official trip to Beijing since he became defense secretary a year ago, the two men traded pointed jabs over the geopolitical ambitions of both nations in the region.

Over the course of an hour, Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan criticized Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and the U.S. for various measures he said undercut stability.

And he pushed back against America’s plans to shift more military resources to the region—a move widely seen in Beijing as an attempt to contain China’s expansionist aims.

China “can never be contained,” Gen. Chang told reporters during a one-hour news conference at the defense ministry with Mr. Hagel standing by his side.

Gen. Chang castigated Japan for stirring up trouble in the East China Sea over who should control a group of disputed islands there and accused the Philippines of illegally occupying other islands in the South China Sea. He blasted U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and urged America to take a more measured approach to regional disputes.

In turn, Mr. Hagel criticized China for unilaterally establishing an air-defense zone over the East China Sea islands without conferring with its competitors in the region.

“That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to and eventually get to a dangerous conflict,” said Mr. Hagel, who wagged his finger as he emphasized his concerns.

The sharp exchanges came as Mr. Hagel worked to promote a “new model” of military cooperation and transparency during his three-day visit to China.

The divide re-emerged later in the day when Mr. Hagel trumpeted the new chapter in military relations in a speech to 150 Chinese military officers. Mr. Hagel diverged from his prepared remarks several times to cut the most pointed barbs at China and argued that “great powers must resolve their disputes peacefully.”

Chinese officers questioning Mr. Hagel accused the U.S. of stoking tensions in the region by backing China’s rivals and trying to curb the country’s influence.

“The American rebalance to Asia-Pacific is not to contain China,” Mr. Hagel said in response to one skeptical officer.

Despite the friction, neither government said it viewed the encounter as a sign of hostility or deterioration in relations.

As if to underscore that, both men salted their comments with words of conciliation. Gen. Chang said the Pacific was big enough to hold the ambitions of both China and the U.S. And Mr. Hagel praised China as essential to the stability in the region.

Defense officials said they had expected the sharp questions from the Chinese defense minister and the students at the military school.

“I certainly didn’t sense hostility.” said Col. Steve Warren, the Pentagon spokesman, who reviewed the transcripts. “It was a good dialogue.”

Gen. Chang’s comments were unusually direct for a Chinese official hosting a foreign counterpart and were likely directed primarily at China’s domestic audience.

Still, Mr. Hagel’s visit still represents progress of sorts given the volatile history of China-U.S. military relations. When then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited in 2011, his visit was emphatically overshadowed by the first test flight of China’s prototype stealth fighter—just a few hours before he met then-President Hu Jintao.

U.S. officials noted that the Chinese military also demonstrated openness by granting Mr. Hagel a rare tour of its lone aircraft carrier.

Military ties between the two countries will become increasingly important as the U.S. presses ahead with attempts to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific by shifting more ships, planes and military personnel to the region.

The U.S. and China agreed on moderate measures to reduce military tensions over relations with North Korea and disputes over who should control the region’s seas.

It remains to be seen how deep the military ties will go. Tuesday’s measures mainly create new channels for dialogue between the two and lay out plans for a humanitarian-aid exercise when details can be worked out.

“Moderate steps are still steps in the right direction, so these are good steps,” said one U.S. defense official.

The relationship has been tested in recent months by accusations between the two countries over cyberattacks, China’s claims to vast expanses of the South China Sea and a territorial standoff with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Last fall, the U.S. military directly challenged China’s unilateral declaration of an air-defense identification zone over the East China Sea islands by flying two B-52 bombers through the area.

China’s move has raised concerns among the U.S. and its Asian allies that Beijing would try to expand its influence by declaring a similar zone over the South China Sea.

But Washington’s plans to increase its influence in Asia are likely to be tempered by a tightening U.S. defense budget and China’s increasing military spending.

The Pentagon’s push for a new military model is part of America’s broader campaign to build a new relationship with China following the formal appointment last year of Xi Jinping as China’s president.

Mr. Xi met with President Barack Obama in June at a private estate in southern California to discuss major issues of contention. Last month, Michelle Obama and her two daughters visited Beijing.

—Carlos Tejada, Jeremy Page and Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.


More of China’s Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan gives US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel an earful as the latter made his first official visit to the largest communist country after appointed to the cabinet post over-sighting the largest free-world and most modern armed forces.

Reuters story:

U.S. defense chief gets earful as China visit exposes tensions

BEIJING Tue Apr 8, 2014 2:15pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan participate in a joint news conference at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing April 8, 2014.

(Reuters) – Tensions between China and the United States were on full display on Tuesday as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faced questions in Beijing about America’s position in bitter territorial disputes with regional U.S. allies.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, standing side-by-side with Hagel, called on the United States to restrain ally Japan and chided another U.S. ally, the Philippines.

Then, Hagel was sharply questioned by Chinese officers at the National Defense University. One of them told Hagel he was concerned that the United States was stirring up trouble in the East and South China Sea because it feared someday “China will be too big a challenge for the United States to cope with.”

“Therefore you are using such issues … to make trouble to hamper (China’s) development,” the officer said.

Hagel assured the audience that America had no interest in trying to “contain China” and that it took no position in such disputes. But he also cautioned repeatedly during the day that the United States would stand by its allies.

“We have mutual self defense treaties with each of those two countries,” Hagel said, referring to Japan and the Philippines. “And we are fully committed to those treaty obligations.”

The questioning came just a day after Hagel toured China’s sole aircraft carrier, in a rare opening by Beijing to a potent symbol of its military ambitions. Chinese Defense Minister Chang called Hagel, the top civilian at the Pentagon, the first foreign military official to be allowed on board the Liaoning.

Chang and Hagel spoke positively about improving military ties and announced steps to deepen them. But the effort could do little to mask long-standing tension over a range of issues, from cyber spying and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to China’s military buildup itself.

At a seminar in New York, China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said Washington needed to think hard about the purpose of its military presence in Asia and whether its political agenda and those of its Asian allies were the same.

He spoke of the need to move away from “outdated alliances” and warned against any attempt to create an Asian version of the NATO Western military alliance to contain China.

“If your mission there is to contain some other country, then you are back in the Cold War again, maybe,” he said. If your intention is to establish an Asian NATO, then we are back in the Cold War-era again. This is something that will serve nobody’s interest, it’s quite clear.”

Beyond developing an aircraft carrier program, China’s People’s Liberation Army is building submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles, and has tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.


That expansion carries risks as Chinese forces come into greater contact with U.S. forces the Pacific, Hagel said.

“As the PLA modernizes its capabilities and expands its presence in Asia and beyond, American and Chinese forces will be drawn into closer proximity – which increases the risk of an incident, an accident, or a miscalculation,” Hagel said in a speech at the National Defense University.

“But this reality also presents new opportunities for cooperation.”

The risks of a mishap were highlighted in December when the American guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a Chinese warship operating in support of the Liaoning.

China’s military modernization has also been accompanied by a more assertive posture in its territorial disputes.

China claims 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) South China Sea, where the Philippines, along with other countries, stake claims. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea over uninhabited islets that are administered by Japan.

Chang asked the United States to “keep (Japan) within bounds and not to be permissive and supportive”, and railed against the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who Hagel met in Tokyo last weekend.

“It is Japan who is being provocative against China,” Chang told a news conference after talks with Hagel.

“If you come to the conclusion that China is going to resort to force against Japan, that is wrong … we will not take the initiative to stir up troubles.”

Chang called the Philippines a nation “disguising itself as a victim” and renewed its opposition to Manila’s pursuit of international arbitration in its territorial dispute.

Hagel, who met the defense minister from the Philippines last week, said he raised U.S. concerns in Beijing over the tension in the South and East China Sea.

He cautioned that no countries should resort to “intimidation, coercion, or aggression to advance their claims.”

The U.S. State Department has accused China’s coastguard of harassment of Philippine vessels and called an attempt to block a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed atoll, provocative and destabilizing.

Also speaking at the New York seminar, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who led the U.S. effort to engage with Communist China in the 1970s, compared the rivalries in Asia, particularly between China and Japan, and the latent threat of the use of force, to 19th Century Europe.

“I would give both of them the same advice – to be extremely restrained and not to permit that situation to develop into a military confrontation,” he said, referring to the leaders of Japan and China.

“We as Americans, being allied with Japan, but in partnership of some kind with China; we should not be put in a position to chose. We should make clear to both sides that we will be sympathetic and helpful, but we are strongly opposed to a military confrontation, which really would have huge consequences in the region.”

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and Grant McCool)


China’s progressively threatening maneuvres getting systematically more aggressive since 2008. These projections of power and force, deemed to be ‘unfriendly’ gestures  especially in areas believed to have rich hydro-carbon deposits all over South China Sea and East China Sea.

ASEAN EEZ Vs China's claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

ASEAN EEZ Vs China’s claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

These projection of force maneuvres guised as “Training exercise” within the imaginary and unsubstantiated claim of ‘Nine-Dash-Line’, China also instilled fear to fishermen.

China which is a signatory of United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) since 1982 and Declaration of Code of Conduct (DOC) with ASEAN nations on 4 November 2002, is expected to honour her commitments to resolve issues in the South China Sea by consultations, negotiations and diplomatic dialogues.

However China is not interested to hold multilateral diplomatic dialogues but instead demanded that each of the ASEAN countries do separate bilateral dialogues to resolve border and territorial disputes.

Existing oil and gas fields, multiple claims and China's 'imaginary territory' dubbed 'Nine-Dash-Line' in South East Asia

Existing oil and gas fields, multiple claims and China’s ‘imaginary territory’ dubbed ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ in South East Asia

It is very clear that China intends to arm-twist her way around during these mutually exclusive bilateral dialogues and push of joint development programs and terms for areas with rich hybdro-carbon deposits which is beneficial to her. This cannot be achieved if the resolution is obtained through multilateral diplomatic dialogues.

China is also in stern opposition of the Philippines’s decision to go to United Nations International Court of Justice at the Hague, to seek resolution for areas such as Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal.

The Philippines is in no position to oppose China’s projection of force with her own military assets and capabilities.

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

In reciprocity, United States pronounces her commitment to stand by the Philippines in this stand of, which translated of the mobilisation of military might. This is a commitment made by the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the annual Singapore  international military and geo-political forum, Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2012.

China’s neighbours particularly South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia can’t help it but the presence of the United States projection of power and force provide some degree of sanity and better predictability to an aggressive People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of over 3 million active personnel.

PLA is independent from China’s administration as it is under the China Central Military Commission (CMC), which answers directly to the communist party politburo.

Defense Secretary Hagel’s visit to China today is an initial step of ‘repositioning’ United States role and commitment to reduce or escalate the ‘Panda Stand Off’ which China. It interesting to watch the development from President Barack H. Obama’s tour of South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines in slightly over two weeks time.

Three days ago Defense Secretary Hagel reassured Japan of the US military commitment. More over in the escalation of China’s expansionary behaviour and arrogant attitude. Otherwise, there is no reason “To contain China”.

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 02:00  Comments (13)  

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  1. Awwww shit, China saying it ‘Can Never Be Contained’. It has been contained for very long periods of time in the past. Through self-isolation and the mistaken egoistic belief that they were the so-called Middle Kingdom and others around them, even as far away as Europe, were barbarians. And the Emperors banning Chinese from leaving the country – any one wishes if only that was a permanent ban?

    Invaded, conquered and ruled by the Mongols under Genghiz Khan in the 13th Century and by the Manchurians that ruled them from the 17th to the 20th Century, Chinese palace officials tried to cover up China’s weaknesses by psycho-analyzing the Chinese populace into believing they were the only civilized lot in the world, started re-writing China’s history, as has been pointed out by 20th Century Professors of History.

    Books have been written about those and quotes will be made available should any one be interested. Meanwhile, just listen to what one Professor closer to us said –

    Those thinking theirs is a higher culture and others have a lower one must read what History Professor Wang Gung-Wu (formerly of Universiti Malaya, now in Singapore) said in his essay “Early Ming Relations with S.E.Asia” pg. 36:

    “ … All peoples who believed that they alone were civilized did so because they thought their neighbours less civilized than themselves. This view was often proved wrong by subsequent contact with other civilized peoples.”

    • Even Japan with about one tenth of China in terms of population and much smaller in territorial size could contain China – occupied parts of it prior to World War II and earlier.

      Now, if US allows Japan to change its post World War II war-renouncing Constitution and re-arm itself, they can become a formidable military power in no time, have nuclear bombs and fart China here and there.

      But US already commits itself to defending Japan and no need to re-arm in wholesale fashion.

      • Don’t think Japan is a weakling and a walk over. Their “Self Defence Forces” are quite formidable, equipped with the latest military hardware said to be “sufficient to defend itself.”

        Yet defence and offence – there may be only a thin line between the two. The principle of hot pursuit, for example, may be ambiguous – how far can Japanese fighter jets chase enemy aircraft, it may even lead to near China’s air space?

        Can those with military – especially air force – background weigh in, pls. BD, can you get somebody to do it, pls – would love to hear the experts’ opinions on this, txs.

  2. Yes, the present-day Chinese Defence Minister is doing the same ego-inflating the Chinese populace now – read the Reuters’ correspondent opinion in the report above:

    “Gen. Chang’s comments were unusually direct for a Chinese official hosting a foreign counterpart and were likely directed primarily at China’s domestic audience.” Imagine, talking in a somewhat confrontational tone in front of guest in your house, how rude, biadap and uncivilized that can be.

    And he got the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel wagging his finger as he emphasized his concerns to the Chinese audience, saying.“That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to and eventually get to a dangerous conflict.”

    But good that a representative of the US military at home in US tried to diffuse the perception of a tense situation between the Chinese and the US defence bosses in Beijing by saying, “I certainly didn’t sense hostility. “It was a good dialogue,” said Col. Steve Warren, the Pentagon spokesman, who reviewed the transcripts.

    • Dialogue it may be, but China must have gotten the message.

      And the US has clearly said it will defend Japan if attacked, are preparing to move their military assets into the air and naval bases in the Philippines – former Vitenam War-era Clarke Air Force Base north of Manila and Subic Naval Base some distance away were being prepared for re-use by US under an agreement struck by Filipino President Aquino with the US.

      Not “containment of China,” said Hagel, but “self defence treaty obligations” with those countries. Whatever. The fact is: China cannot now resort to “intimidation, coercion, or aggression to advance their claims.”

      Here are other pertinent quotes on the US response to China’s irresponsible behaviour in the East China and the South China Seas in recent times:
      – “the U.S. presses ahead with attempts to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific by shifting more ships, planes and military personnel to the region”

      – “U.S. arms sales to Taiwan”

      – “America’s plans to shift more military resources to the region—a move widely seen in Beijing as an attempt to contain China’s expansionist aims.”

      And where is that Oleg whatever-his-name of the previous post who tried to deny US resolve in this matter.

      • Hey, it’s “Olek”, as in ” Olek Skilgannon”, not “Oleg”.

        Obviously you aren’t a fan of the late David Gemmell!

        Anyway, it’s ironic that this particular thread should include the words “Gun boat diplomacy” in it’s title.

        China was once on the receiving end of “gun boat diplomacy”, courtesy of the Brits and the Yanks.

        Enough for the Chinese to say ” never again”.

        And the tender mercies of the Japs in the “Rape of Nanjing” have been documented beyond doubt.

        So, the Chinese will not exactly be inclined to treat the Japs with kid gloves.

        Even the US is becoming increasingly wary about the nationalistic rantings of the Abe administration in Japan. If you think that the US will allow itself to be dragged by Japan into a Chinese “adventure”, Japan being a US treaty ally notwithstanding, then you aren’t reading the tea leaves right.

        It would be ironic if a Modi-led government, leavened with a hefty dose of Hindu nationalism, takes power in India and promptly ups the ante with China, with the US cheering from the sidelines.

        The levers of power in the region are shifting.

        And, come to think of it, Muslim separatists in Kashmir aren’t that much different from Uighur separatists in China.

      • Who cares if it’s olek or oleg or mo lek or ah lek.

        “you aren’t reading the tea leaves right.”? We read them right, mate. But you are reading the wrong tea leaves – those laced with mercury in the far-flung mountains of China that Emperor Chin Shih Huang ti insisted on taking for longevity, not realizing it’s that mercury that got him knocked down dead.

        Seen the documentary showing the horse carriage bearing his corpse was preceded and followed by carriages carrying full loads of smelly salted fish to drown the stench from his rotting corpse on the long journey back from one of his inspection tours to the outer areas?

        The moral of the story was: don’t lie to the citizenry, declare the man dead, and don’t have Palace officials re-write history to deceive the common people. Then the Chinese commoners protested, demonstrated, rebelled and revolted. Until communism became attractive but communist leaders also lied and deceived some more such that not many believe the Chinese these days.

        And what’s Muslim separatists in Kashmir got to do with the price of tea in China, drunk by Uighurs or not? Remember, my argument has as much logic as yours.

      • “Even the US is becoming increasingly wary about the nationalistic rantings of the Abe administration in Japan.” That’s your opinion, isn’t it? I disagree. And my opinion is as good as yours.

        You don’t think that the US will allow itself to be dragged by Japan into a Chinese “adventure”? Again, it’s just your opinion. Mine says the US will stick to their words and honour their treaty obligations. And mine may even be better than yours. The Americans have not reneged – in the Korean War, in Afghanistan, etc.

        China? Many people don’t trust them. Only a few weeks ago they wasted days of valuable time and assets searching the South China Sea because their satellite images claimed to indicate that MH370 ended there, when it’s now becoming increasingly clear it[‘s in the Indian Ocean.

    • Being biadap and uncivilized they will always be. Because their way of thinking, values, norms of behaviour, stimulus and reaction are always different from others. Just look at their action and reaction to efforts at tracing MH370 disappearnce.

      Like the DAP Chinese always lacking respect for the Constitution of the country, the Chinese in the mainland lack respect for international laws. Also like the DAP Chinese, they are the ones who accuse others of lacking respect for those.

      Chinese culture evolves a lot from the fact that for over a thousand years they have embraced and practiced three different religions all at the same time – Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. This is a historical fact, written in books, not just a figment of any imagination. Some call it as a “triple insurance against calamity”, others call it gullibility, yet others use the term “ultra kiasu” or not wanting to be left out.

      But left out they were. In its very recent history, they went communist, became topsy turvy and in deep turmoil for scores of years, became isolated and referred to by the West as an international pariah until only a few decades ago. And now that they have become strong economically and militarily, they must be contained. Call it “The American re-balance to Asia-Pacific” whatever, just contain them to their shores and seas according to international laws of the United Nations.

  3. Cannot trust the Chinese. I read that first Emperor Chin Shih Huangdi burnt books and professors over 2,000 years ago. Mao Zedong burnt books and sent professors for “re-education” only 50 years ago.

    If the Chinese Emperors’ palace officials even re-wrote their history, how to trust the Chinese?

  4. Projection of power. China not a Super Power. How long it take for them to be Super Power?

    US got UK and others to war with Iraq. Maybe they will do the same if there is war with China. But would China get any one to fight on their side? North Korea, sure. But would Russia join them?

    But if that happens, would it be Third World War? Nuclear War? Everybody says they will try to avoid that. But can accident happen and war breaks out and they use nuclear bombs?

  5. […] Trap’. That alone is another sophisticated game of complex geo-politics games, where China’s reaction with any projection of force would be drawn into a military stand off with her immediate and regional neighbours in a Neo Cold […]

  6. […] aggression by China is an extension of its projection of power, in the […]

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