Thanks Joe - China Completes Its Militarization Of The South China Sea
In 2013 then Vice-President Biden flew to Beijing. He was Obama’s point man on East Asia. His job was to push back on Chinse expansion in the South China Sea. In particular, he was to pressure the Chinese to stop the construction of the artificial islands they were building.
With Joe on Air Force Two was his bag man, Hunter. Joe went to meetings with the Chinese leadership. Hunter went to meetings with the State Bank of China, which would subsequently hand him $1.5 billion. Their work completed, Joe and Hunter flew home.
Hunter got his money. Nobody did anything to stop the Chinese from building their new islands.
It is now nine years later. This past week Admiral John C. Aquilino, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander took stock of what has transpired in that time in the South China Sea. He noted that the Chinese had now completed the militarization of at least three of the artificial islands they have constructed equipping them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems and fighter jets which threatened all nations in the area.
"The function of those islands is to expand the offensive capability of the PRC beyond their continental shores. They can fly fighters, bombers plus all those offensive capabilities of missile systems," Aquilino said. Aquilino was interviewed by the AP on board a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying near Chinese-held outposts in the South China Sea's Spratly archipelago. During the patrol, the P-8A Poseidon plane was repeatedly warned by Chinese authorities that it had illegally entered China's territory. The plane was ordered to leave.
"China has sovereignty over the Spratly islands, as well as surrounding maritime areas. Stay away immediately to avoid misjudgment," one of the radio messages stated.
Aquilino’s comments highlight the essential nature of the Chinese activities in the South China Sea. There is nothing defensive about them. They are part and parcel of an aggressive Chinese policy of expansionism. These islands are not bastions in a defensive line. They are jumping-off points for conquest.
Jim Fanell, CAPT USN (Ret), former Director of Intelligence and Information Operations U.S. Pacific Fleet described it this way in talking to AND Magazine.
"With the announcement by the Commander of Indo-Pacific Command that the PRC's artificial Spratly Islands have been militarized Americans should understand these naval bases and air stations are not solely focused on defending the PRC's outrageous claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea, but also provide the CCP a forward base for future offensive operations in the Indo-Pacific region. For instance, PLAAF bombers operating from the 10,000-foot runways at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs would be able to range and launch long-range missiles against Australia or other locations in the South Pacific or into South Asia. Additionally, the PLA Navy will be able to use these naval bases to project their new carrier and amphibious strike groups much farther into the Indian Ocean, down under to Australia, and across Oceania. Simply put, these "fully militarized" bases provide the CCP control over the $5 trillion of goods that transit through the SCS as well as forward operating bases from which the PRC can continue to drive the U.S. military from the Indo-Pacific."
Speaking in Australia after his flight over the South China Sea, Aquilino was equally blunt.
“They are full-fledged offensive bases,” he told reporters in Darwin last week. “Runways, hangers, barracks, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles, jamming capability, hangers for fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft ... That is fact.” Asked about the military threat to Australia’s north, including Darwin, Admiral Aquilino said, “There is certainly a threat”.
The island facilities are considerably larger than many commentators seem to understand. Most of the District of Columbia would fit inside the lagoon at the Mischief Reef Base. All of Pearl Harbor Naval Base would fit inside Subi Reef. There are massive facilities at all locations including barracks to hold large numbers of Chinese troops. These are not outposts on sandbars. These are huge bases on new landmasses built specifically for one purpose – war.
The construction of these bases has occurred within the broader context of a Chinese effort to seize control of East Asia. That effort is ongoing and may be intensifying. Admiral Aquilino had this to say when asked recently about the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
"I don’t think anyone five months ago would have predicted an invasion of the Ukraine. So, I think the number one lesson is: 'Hey, this could really happen.'"
"Number two, don’t be complacent...We have to be prepared at all times."
Only days ago, it was announced that China had negotiated a new security deal with the Solomon Islands, which lie just to the north of Australia. The agreement contains a number of very broad provisions, which would grant China a great deal of latitude. It would allow China to deploy security and naval forces to the Solomon Islands. It would allow armed Chinese police and military to deploy at the Solomon Islands’ request to maintain “social order.” It would also permit the “forces of China” to protect “the safety of Chinese personnel” and “major projects in the Solomon Islands.” The agreement also provides logistical support for the deployment of naval vessels to the Solomon Islands.
The South China Sea is one of the world’s most strategic waterways. We have watched and done nothing while it has been seized and militarized. We are now watching and doing nothing while the Chinese move ahead with the next phase of their plan to take control of all of East Asia. The balance of power on the planet is shifting, and not to our advantage. The consequences of this inaction may well be catastrophic.
China has absorbed the South China Sea.
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