Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chinese Land Reclamation

As has been widely reported, the Navy sent a Burke class destroyer on another freedom of navigation operation, this time near Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, near the Philippines.  Indications suggest it was another of the worse-than-nothing Innocent Passages which actually wind up acknowledging Chinese sovereignty rather than disputing it.  Setting that legalistic technicality aside, what are these operations accomplishing?  They certainly haven’t slowed the pace of China’s land reclamation efforts.  They haven’t slowed the rate of expansion of Chinese claimed territories.  They haven’t eased any tensions.  In short, they’re accomplishing nothing.

At some point, we have to either abandon the South and East China Seas and leave the neighboring countries to their inevitable Chinese annexation fates or we have to physically stop Chinese expansion activities.  What we’re doing now with an occasional passage that actually solidifies Chinese claims is just ramping up tensions for no good result.

Don't Own An Island?  Make One!

So, what can we do short of declaring war?  Well, here’s a list of suggestions.

Physically herd Chinese supply ships out of the area.  Bump their ships, sail into their path, and make it impossible for them to get to the disputed location.  There is precedence for this since the Chinese have herded our ships and other foreign country’s ships with these tactics on numerous occasions.  The Soviets also did it routinely during the Cold War.

Swamp any supplies that make it ashore.  Make high speed passes as close as possible to create large wakes (a use for the LCS?!) that will wash away supplies and equipment.  After all, we claim that these are international waters so we’re free to sail where and how we want.  Russia has certainly firmly established the precedent of high speed, very close range passes!

Form a physical blockade with ships.  It would only take a few ships.  These are tiny points of reefs, not large land masses.  Form a barrier and don’t let Chinese ships through.

Blow stuff up.  We have drones, subs with torpedoes, and special forces whose job is to covertly blow things up.  If a pile of supplies exploded, it’s probably because the Chinese had explosives or unstable chemicals in the supplies, right?

Conduct land recycling operations on the same location that China is trying to reclaim land.  As fast as they reclaim it, we’ll recycle it back to the ocean!  These are not Chinese lands according to us, so we have as much right to recycle as they have to reclaim – probably more right since we can claim we’re protecting reef ecosystems.

Ultimately, we have to be prepared and willing to escalate in order to stop the Chinese.  If we are not prepared to do so then we should leave.


  1. I would have thought the countries like Phillipines who do claim these nearby reefs take more action. All they are required to do the old fashioned method, mining the shipping channels to these instant islands

  2. Your suggestions is not short of declaring war but in effect is declaring war. China's actions are calibrated to ensure non US actions. The Obama administration has no interest in engaging in a conflict with China and China understands this point. China will continue to explore this weakness in US resolve i.e. do nothing beyond the customary statement of appeal to China.

  3. Traditionally don't you just use aid to gift old P-3Cs and Frigates to the Philippines, maybe a LSD if you want to be more pointed?

    1. The world has been at peace since the 90s and the last big war ended in the 70s.
      There simply arent huge stockpiles of used but serviceable equipment left over from the last war, the equipment from the 80s is still in front line service and sometimes falls from the sky already.

    2. Ships :

  4. Let's keep an eye on the court-proceedings in The Hague. China could lose with its claims far beyond their 200nm EEZ.

    Who'd enforce such a decision against China would be the next question.

    But these 'new' islands would make fine forward-positioned naval assets for the Philippines, apart from being Fisheries-Support Stations with SAR assets, fuel, freezers, processing facilities...

    Plus similar claims by Vietnam, Brunei etc.

    Manila's filing this complaint against China keeps the legal claims sharp. Decision due in June or soon.

  5. "If we are not prepared to do so then we should leave."

    So risk nuclear war and millions of American dead, or leave, and nothing really happens.

    Leave what? We have lots of artificial islands in the Pacific, and the world still turns. I say let's live and leave them be.

    1. We're not risking nuclear war any more than the Chinese are. That's an absolutely idiotic thing to say.

      I hear this a lot. Why do you people seem to think that the US doesn't meekly bow down we risk nuclear war but if the Chinese seize our EP-3 or construct illegal islands or engage in intimidation they are not risking nuclear war at all.

      I can't emphasize enough how stupid this line of thought is. I usually make every attempt to refrain from criticizing commenters but this is just an absurd idea that has no place in a thinking man's world or in a blog based on logic and reason. I invite you to find another blog that is closer to your level of reasoning.

    2. The EP-3 incident is a great example. Some wanted to bomb China or land commandos to try to free them. But cooler heads prevailed and peace endured. So far the Chinese have not obstructed sea lanes or fishermen. They claim these islands are defensive, as so far they are. We don't see Taiwan, South Korea or even the Philippines taking any action, because they will suffer should a war breaks out.

    3. I think one of the long term goals of the Chinese is to undermine our ability to meet our treaty obligations to our neighbors.

      I don't think we'll do anything about the existing islands. We sat on our hands too long for that. But we could help an ally in the region make their own islands.

      As to the Chinese behavior:

      You say:

      "So far the Chinese have not obstructed sea lanes or fishermen"

      The Philippines and Vietnam disagree.



    4. "So far the Chinese have not obstructed sea lanes or fishermen."

      This is absolutely false. If you don't do your homework, I'll delete the comment. Please do some research and then re-post.

    5. "They claim these islands are defensive, as so far they are."

      Really? What characteristic makes them defensive as opposed to offensive?

  6. Go in and build islands right next to theirs. One cancels out the military/ strategic value of the other. A2AD works both ways.

    1. Military scale trolling...I like it. At least that way the US wouldn't have to worry about a CVN being sunk.

  7. Besides monetary reasons... That actually sounds like a good ideal. Build islands next to theirs could work, and we could claim the same bs rhetoric they do.

  8. I'm still going to suggest a raft of trade tariffs, I know its no where near as exciting as global thermo nuclear war, but China right now has the potential to self implode if we can pull its income. They have been winding up quite a few developed countries right now.

    We don't really need a UN sanction. As I notice there was a 500%+ steal tariff applied last week.

    Probably quite a good idea to stop subcontracting all that military equipment contracts to them anyway ?

    The world second biggest economy is going to find it difficult to get bigger without the world largest economy. And empires have always risen and fallen on their purses.

    1. Absolutely! Tariffs are one of the keys to dealing with China. This blog is about military matters so I don't address political and economic measures too much but you are spot on. Simply imposing equal tariff protections would drive our oversea's manuf jobs back to America, create jobs for us, weaken unfriendly countries, and strengthen our economy. Without question it would be more effective than any military solution in the long run.

      Excellent comment.

    2. " I know its no where near as exciting as global thermo nuclear war"

      You have a very interesting view of excitement.... ;-)

      The Chinese economy is in an interesting state. They have their own version of a debt crisis right now, and switching to internal consumption of their goods has been more difficult than they thought. And from what I've read their media is becoming less free than it used to, so more things are covered up from the populace.

      I think the CCP is worried.

      The overseas manufacturing jobs is a difficult nut to crack. We used tax law to make it very easy for companies to move plants there. Some are coming back on their own when they deal with inefficiency and the cost of shipping. Others... Without getting into politics lets just say it would take more than just adding tariffs on Asia if we want those jobs back in CONUS, we'd have to have a well thought out strategy.

    3. "... we'd have to have a well thought out strategy."

      Of course. We would need a comprehensive package of tax reforms/incentives, labor law revisions, salary and compensation law reform, environmental law reform, etc. Tariffs, though, are a huge first step with major impact.

    4. "We don't really need a UN sanction. As I notice there was a 500%+ steal tariff applied last week."

      They will appeal that to the WTO but the problem is you can wall out China, you can only wall in America
      Its a losing strategy

      It might "save" US steel, but how competitive are US car exports if the steel they use is 6x as expensive as that used by everyone else?

    5. The cost of a car is not just the steel. If the raw material cost (steel) is more expensive than you'd like, then look for compensatory savings in the processing of the steel, the design and production of the car, the marketing and sales of the car, the transportation of the car to market, etc.

      There is a lot that can be done to lower costs by reforming (not eliminating) environmental regulations.

      Another huge cost savings would be to implement tort reform as related to the auto industry. Every exorbitant lawsuit settled against the auto industry shows up in the cost of the car.

    6. The US isn't the only one with Chinese steal "problem".

      I suspect with a bit of organisation much of the developed countries can curb ( or are indeed now trying to curb ) Chinese industrial expansion.

      Alternatives like Indian companies do exist.

      With a investment in customs and excise departments we could stem the flow of "illegal", "dangerous" or "un-licensed" goods across the EU and US that is really going to cramp their style.

      Allot of these are personal purchases from individuals, however our governments have run advertising campaigns over less. And it wouldn't take that much to tip them at this point, they are somewhat over extended.

  9. Hmmm. Tariffs are good and everything, but may I point out the last time we messed with a belligerent country's economy, they bombed Pearl Harbor. First step is be in a position to fight a war with China before we attempt anything. For if we do tariffs on them, they may well strike out else where to recover that last income.


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