Tag Archives: China

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China’s Nine-Dashed Line Faces Renewed Assault

China’s ambiguous claim to the South China Sea, approximately demarcated by a series of hash marks known as the “nine-dashed line,” faced objections from an expanding number of parties over the past two weeks. While a challenge from the United States came from an unsurprising source, actions by Indonesia and Vietnam were unexpected in their tone and timing.

8-e48b8c470eOn December 5th, the U.S. State Department released its analysis of the compatibility of China’s nine-dashed line with international law. The report attempted to set aside the issue of sovereignty and explore “several possible interpretations of the dashed-line claim and the extent to which those interpretations are consistent with the international law of the sea.” The analysis found that as a demarcation of claims to land features within the line and their conferred maritime territory, the least expansive interpretation, the claim is consistent with international law but reiterated that ultimate sovereignty is subject to resolution with the other claimants.

As a national boundary, the report went on, the line “would not have a proper legal basis under the law of the sea,” due to its unilateral nature and its inconsistent distance from land features that could confer maritime territory. Alternately, although many commentators have indicated China bases its claims on “historic” rights pre-dating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, the report argued that the history China points to does not fit the narrow “category of historic claims recognized” in UNCLOS under which historic rights may be conferred. Lastly, the report noted that as China has filed no formal claim supporting its nine-dashed line, the ambiguity over the exact nature and location of the line itself undermines under international law China’s argument that it possesses maritime rights to the circumscribed waters, concluding:

“For these reasons, unless China clarifies that the dashed-line claim reflects only a claim to islands within that line and any maritime zones that are generated from those land features in accordance with the international law of the sea, as reflected in the LOS Convention, its dashed-line claim does not accord with the international law of the sea.”

Although such analysis reflects prior U.S. policy positions, less expected were the pointed signals from Indonesia, which has built a reputation as a mediator among ASEAN states in dealing with China and striven to downplay the overlap by the nine-dashed line of its own claimed exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea from Natuna Island. On Tuesday at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, senior Indonesian presidential advisor Luhut Binsar Panjaitan emphasized that the country was “very firm” that its “sovereignty cannot be negotiated,” while stressing the importance of dialogue to peacefully manage matters. Further, in response to a question from an audience member, Panjaitan stated (56:00 mark in the video below) that the development of gas fields offshore Natuna in cooperation with Chevron would “give a signal to China, ‘you cannot play a game here because of the presence of the U.S.’” Meanwhile Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti noted that after sinking Vietnamese vessels the Indonesian Navy said it had captured illegally fishing she was considering sinking 5 Thai and 22 Chinese vessels also caught.

As Prashanth Parameswaran notes at The Diplomat, Indonesia is playing a balancing act – seeking at the same time to protect its sovereign interests as it attempts to align new president Joko Widodo (Jokowi)’s “Maritime Axis”/“Maritime Fulcrum” initiative with Xi Jinping’s “Maritime Silk Road” and play a leading role in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. To some observers, sinking the Thai and Chinese boats is now necessary to preserve Indonesia’s image of impartiality, while others believe such action may be redundant if China heeds the warning that such behavior will no longer be tolerated.

Vietnam too took surprise action over the nine-dashed line, in a move long-mooted but unexpected in its timing. Vietnam’s foreign ministry announced last week that it had filed papers with the Hague arbitral tribunal overseeing the case submitted by the Philippines, asking that its rights and interests be considered in the ruling. Vietnam supported the Philippines position arguing that China’s nine-dashed line is “without legal basis.” While a regional source in The South China Morning Post noted that the action was as much about protecting “Vietnamese interests vis-à-vis the Philippines as it is directed against China,” and Professor Carlyle Thayer described it as “a cheap way of getting into the back door without joining the Philippines’ case,” Thayer also told Bloomberg News that it “raises the stature of the case in the eyes of the arbitrational tribunal.”

China-Vietnam-RigIf the actions taken by the United States, Indonesia, and Vietnam were surprising, China’s reactions were not. On December 7th, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a white paper of its own on the Philippines’ arbitration case. The document states that China’s policy, as established in its 2006 statement on UNCLOS ratification, is to exclude maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration. Additionally, the paper says that while the current arbitration is ostensibly about the compatibility of China’s nine-dashed line with international law, “the essence of the subject-matter” deals with a mater of maritime delimitation and territorial sovereignty. The paper goes on to say that until the matter of sovereignty of the land features in the South China Sea is conclusively settled it is impossible to determine the extent to which China’s claims exceed international law.

In effect, China is taking the position that only after it has conducted and conclude bilateral sovereignty negotiations will its nine-dashed line be open to critique. While the foreign ministry may be right that the Philippines is attempting to force the issue of territorial sovereignty, its argument that this prevents scrutiny of the nine-dashed line’s accordance with international law rings hollow.

At the end of the day, China has repeatedly stated, and its new policy paper affirms, that it will “neither accept nor participate in the arbitration” initiated by the Philippines. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei likewise remarked of Vietnam’s filing with the tribunal that “China will never accept such a claim.” So it is prudent to ask what benefit will come of the legal maneuvers. Some, such as Richard Javad Heydarian, a political-science professor at De La Salle University, point to the economic harm already incurred by the Philippines in opportunity costs and the danger of having created a worse domestic and international environment for settling the disputes. Yet given the lengthening list of states willing to stake a legal position on the matter and the moral weight of a potential court ruling, China can claim and attempt to enforce what it wants, but it will be increasingly clear that it is doing so in contravention of international law.

Scott Cheney-Peters is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former editor of Surface Warfare magazine. He is the founder and president of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), a graduate of Georgetown University and the U.S. Naval War College, and a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.

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Members’ Round-Up Part 6

Welcome back to another edition of the Member Round-Up. As always there is a wide variety of topics covered by CIMSEC members. There his, however, a distinct ‘air power’ flavour from our USAF members this week and I am sure that all of the featured articles will make for good reading leading into the weekend.

Dr Ioannis Chapsos recently joined CIMSEC and has a strong focus on researching maritime security issues. At The Conversation, he recently published an article concerning the United Kingdom’s new ‘Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.’ The danger, according to Chapsos, is that continuing to pay ransom money to pirates could lead to flow-on effects that the bill is trying to prevent. This should certainly be at the top of the weekly reading list for those interested in piracy and counter-terrorism issues.

Fellow CIMSECian, Chuck Hill, provides some brief thoughts from the recent US Naval Institute Defense Forum Washington 2014 seminar. His post, naturally, has a distinct focus on the Coast Guard elements of that session. You can also access Scott Cheney-Peters‘ points from the seminar here at CIMSEC.

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Preserving the knowledge edge: Surveillance cooperation and the US–Australia alliance in Asia

From down under, James Goldrick co-authors a report for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute titled ‘Preserving the knowledge edge.’ Along with co-authors Stephan Fruhling and Rory Medcalf, thereport discusses the current state of surveillance cooperation between the United States and Australia. It also goes on to discuss the ways in which the existing relationship may evolve to meet the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. You can access a copy of the report here.

In the Air and Space Power Journal (Africa & Francophonie), Maj David Blair, USAF, provides his thoughts on some of the organisational challenges facing military professionals. In his essay, Blair provides lessons from historical examples of how organisational failures led to strategic defeat on the battlefield. Case studies range from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the developing of the F-16. Even though he does not provide the ‘answer’, his essay will certainly provide a basis for tackling the problem.

Over at The National Interest, Dave Mujumdar continues the air power theme with his own ’roundup’ of the US Air Force’s five most lethal weapons of war. For those who are not well versed in the capabilities of the world’s largest air force, it provides an up-to-date analysis of these platforms and some of the issues concerning some of the ageing aircraft.

Zachary Keck, provides two articles this week concerning foreign military technology and the global market. Firstly, he reports that a senior Chinese official boasted that China’s J-31 would easily rival the F-35. If one were a betting man, it would be safe to say that that was exactly what the J-31 was intended for (see picture). In any case, the Chinese aircraft would certainly be of interest to those air forces who are unable to afford the F-35. Keck’s second article reports that the Mexican government may be looking at purchasing Iranian-made drones in order to stave off drug cartel operations. Links to the articles can be found here and here, respectively.

China's J-31 Stealth Fighter
China’s J-31 Stealth Fighter

In other news, the CIMSEC team wish to congratulate Major Jeremy Renken, USAF, for having his work recognised by the wider Air Force. Jeremy’s CIMSEC article, ‘Strategic Architectures’, was selected for inclusion in the Air War College’s Campaign Design and Execution Course. You can find a link to his article here.

As always we continue to look for works published by CIMSEC members. If you have published, or know of another member who has published recently, please email dmp@cimsec.org so that we can promote your work.

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Indonesia’s Seaward Shift: A Break from the Past

Jokowi%20oathIn his inaugural speech as the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo communicated a vision of prosperity for his country based on a tradition of maritime trade. Indonesia, he said, is to become a sea-going trading power once again. With a new Ministry of Maritime Affairs and a US $6 billion investment in maritime infrastructure, he’s putting his proverbial money where his mouth is. While this seems like an obvious path for archipelagic Indonesia to take, there are very important reasons why this signals a profound shift in the strategic thinking of the country from an internal threat perception to an external one. Although some analysts believe Jokowi’s pronouncement is code for abandonment of Indonesia’s non-alignment policy, it is likely his words had nothing to do with external actors and everything to do with growing confidence in Indonesia’s democracy to effectively address its historically troubled internal security.

Understanding this requires a look at the history and culture of Indonesia’s security services. Like many of its counterparts in neighboring states, the Indonesian security apparatus was formed, tested, blooded, and solidified in an environment of internal insurgency. For hundreds of years, Southeast Asian nations (with the exception of Thailand) were caught up in the ebb and flow of colonial domination. In a very short time following the Japanese invasion of the region in December 1941, these nations underwent a rapid decoupling from the colonial system. By 1959 all were newly independent and all except Thailand were on a fairly shaky basis due to the newness of their institutions. Worse, they all suffered from vicious Communist insurgencies formed, trained, and supported by the Allies to counter the Japanese. In some cases, returning colonial powers (French, Dutch, and British) found themselves fighting the very the agents they had trained just a few years earlier. The chickens had come home to roost in a very real and violent way.

The Communists had two weakness: they were not a single, monolithic insurgency but a collection of disconnected national movements (Malayan, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino) vulnerable to defeat in detail, and their core membership was composed primarily of culturally distinct ethnic Chinese minorities. Their ability to blend into the local populations was limited, forcing the Communists to operate in remote, politically marginal areas. Despite this, they posed a very real threat to the stability of the young governments in the five nations that would eventually form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By 1967, these nations had had enough and decided they needed a political construct that would enable them to address the problem. The solution was the principle of non-interference enshrined in the founding declaration of ASEAN. This principle allowed member states to define their insurgencies as purely internal problems and to deal with them without fear of interference by other ASEAN member states. In its implementation over the last forty-seven years, the principle of non-interference has been used at times as a cover for the suppression of internal populations through imposition of emergency security measures such as restrictions on freedoms of the press and assembly; common factors in many ASEAN countries. Of course, the best tool for implementing these restrictions is the police. As a result, in many ASEAN countries the police, not the Army, have primacy for both internal and external security. But Indonesia went a different direction, relying more on its military special operations forces (Kopassus and others) than on its police.

Created by the Japanese to fight Dutch-trained Indonesian paramilitary formations (and ultimately the Dutch themselves), the predecessors of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and national intelligence service (BIN) adopted a heavy counter-insurgency focus during their early operations in the Second World War. With the accession of their leaders, Sukarno and Zulkifli Lubis, to political and bureaucratic power, TNI and BIN’s perception of threat from within dominated Indonesia’s strategic landscape until the end of the 20th Century. As TNI’s monopoly on political power quickly eroded after the fall of Suharto in 1998, the emphasis began to shift toward the police. A U.S. legislative prohibition on direct military engagement with individuals accused of human rights violations accelerated the situation. The prohibition disproportionately affected Kopassus after accusations that many of its leaders committed war crimes during the invasion of East Timor in 1975. Decades later, the U.S. failure to engage Kopassus remained problematic for the United States because TNI continued to block access to other Indonesian units, insisting that Jakarta, not the U.S. Congress, would decide which Indonesian formations received priority for mil-mil cooperation. The impasse left the door open for the U.S. State Department to become the lead U.S. agency for security assistance to Indonesia. Through its Anti-Terrorism Agency (ATA), the State Department drove the formation and training of the now famous police counterterrorism unit, Densus 88,[1] known for its spectacular successes against a number of the country’s most wanted international terrorists. By 2007, with hotspots in Timor and Irian Jaya temporarily quiet, Indonesia’s police seemed to be firmly in control of internal security, allowing the country’s military and political leadership to begin thinking outwardly.

It is in this context that Jokowi’s pronouncement makes sense. Navies do not have great utility against insurgencies and it would not be feasible or advisable to emphasize naval power while under threat from within. While some happily interpret this shift to be aimed squarely at China, whose territorial claims in the South China Sea affect Indonesia’s energy rich Natuna Island, this is probably wishful thinking. China’s brushes with Natuna are a very recent development in what is a much older strategic context. Therefore we should not view such a shift as a bold break from strategic concepts of the past, rather we should take it as a reflection of Indonesia’s changing security situation going all the way back to the Japanese invasion in 1941. While it’s probably inaccurate to portray this as evidence of Jokowi’s greatness and vision, we can take heart that a shift to the sea is evidence that a mature, stable Indonesia has indeed arrived and is here to stay.

Lino Miani is a US Army Special Forces officer, author of The Sulu Arms Market, and CEO of Navisio Global LLC.  Views expressed in this article are definitely not the views of the US Government, the U.S. Army, or the Special Forces Regiment.

[1] The name Detacmen Khusus 88, or Densus 88 for short, is reportedly the result of a misinterpretation of the English acronym for Antiterrorism Agency (ATA) by a senior Indonesian police official.

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American Strategy in the 21st Century: Maritime Power and China – Part III

This is the third of a three-part series. See Jake’s first article here and second here.

Criticism
Justin Logan outlines an alternative critique of America’s “pivot” toward Asia and a maritime presence that counters China’s growing military power. According to Logan, the “liberal internationalist” or “optimists” (also known as “Panda Huggers”) represented by G. John Ikenberry, “elide the zero-sum nature of military questions, hang too much on faith that political liberalization will happen, and will resign China to American military dominance, and similarly place too much faith in the power of international institutions.” On the other hand, “realists” or “pessimists” (also known as “Dragon Slayers”), represented by John J. Mearsheimer, “have not shown how Washington could squash Chinese economic growth at an acceptable cost, and do not demonstrate directly how even a much more powerful China would threaten the security of the United States.” He suggests that “Beltway elites” have adopted “an inherently contradictory approach, congagement, that borrows problems from both schools of thought and creates a new problem: free riding.” [1]

“Congagement” creates several problems. America’s attempt to act as “the balancer of first resort” becomes more costly as China becomes more wealthy and capable of fielding an ever-more effective military. By “infantizing” allies in the region, they do not see the need to invest in their own defense, instead relying on American security guarantees. Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and others should come together to deter Chinese aggression without America doing it for them. [2]

Are you a panda hugger or dragon slayer?
Are you a panda hugger or dragon slayer?

The United States should instead “pivot home.” It must “revisit formal and informal U.S. security commitments in Asia with a clear eye trained on what it would actually be willing to fight a war with China over, and just how likely those scenarios are.” Policymakers should “work to lessen and ultimately remove the forward-deployed U.S. military presence in the region, helping establish more powerful national militaries in like-minded states” and “encourage Asian nations to work together on security issues without the United States leading the way.” Otherwise “it likely will see its allies unable to play a larger role, and a larger share of America’s national income dedicated to containing China on their behalf.” [3]

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Logan’s critique builds upon the strong “libertarian” or “isolationist” strain in American foreign policy going back to the days of Thomas Jefferson, and perhaps best embodied today by Senator Rand Paul and his father, former Congressman Ron Paul. It has a popular appeal, one in which the United States avoids involving itself in the affairs of other nations and the “entangling alliances” of the former European powers. In this view, America can best serve its national security and foreign policy interests by having a military capable of defending its political territory and using that power only in self-defense. While America can serve as an “international example” of freedom and economic liberalization, it should avoid a muscular policy with broad strategic interests, one in which the United States is the predominant military power and international leader.

Despite its appeal, Logan’s critique leaves much to be desired. Neither the “liberal internationalist,” “realist” or “congagement” policy perspectives argue that American allies will rely solely on American security guarantees. Indeed, evidence suggests that while China’s defense spending has certainly increased substantially from 2000 to 2011 ($22.5 billion to $89.9 billion), so has that of America’s allies and other security partners. Japanese defense expenditures rose from $40 billion to $58.8 billion, South Korea’s rose from $17 billion to $29 billion, and Taiwan’s rose from $8 billion to $10 billion. Indian defense spending surged 47.6 percent over the decade, reaching $37 billion. [4] The evidence that Asian nations are “free riders” does not appear compelling as Logan would have us believe.

The historical experience since the end of the Vietnam War has shown that the American presence is Asia is a stabilizing force, counter to Logan’s claim. He does not appreciate the context of the 19th and 20th Centuries. For example, Japan’s growing role in regional security would not be possible without American leadership (and influence on) Japanese policy. Logan at one point highlights recent security agreements between the Philippines and Japan as an example where America was not needed. Yet he fails to understand that without the American security umbrella (and still tacit influence over Japanese defense policy), the Philippines would almost certainly not enter into any security agreement with their one-time occupier. The same holds true for South Korea, whose experience with Japan includes more than a century of occupation. Can one seriously believe that the Japanese and South Koreans could or would work together without America’s leadership (and forward presence) in the alliance structure?

Sailor on watch.
Sailor on watch.

Logan is right that policymakers must think seriously about under what scenarios the United States might find itself drawn into conflict with China, but he seems to downplay how likely those scenarios are. The fictional scenario considered in Part I is not out-of-the-question. Indeed, it may be more likely than any Taiwan-related scenario because the chances of miscalculation on the part of China are much higher. China may perceive territorial conflicts over small islands in the South and East China Seas much easier to accomplish than a forced reunification with Taiwan. Logan suggests that those types of conflicts would result in more economic harm to China, and it would not be in their economic self-interest. Setting aside the conceit that an American sitting comfortably in Washington D.C. is just as capable of determining Chinese self-interest as the Politburo in Beijing, he again ignores history. Economic interdependence rarely deters war. Thucydides’ observation over 2,500 years ago is still true today – nations go to war because of fear, honor and interest. Matters of security, national honor and fear will always trump trade agreements.

The siren song of isolationism is strong, and the burden of world leadership is great. However, we have already been through periods of American disengagement, especially after the First World War and we’ve seen how this plays out. While Logan is right to demand that policymakers outline the explicit threat to American national security China poses, he is wrong to suggest it is small.

Conclusion
Maritime power provides American policy makers with significant benefits, perhaps none more important than time. Forces can be replaced, space can be regained, but time cannot. Any conflict with China will require significant political considerations of the objectives to be attained while at the same time slowing escalation into a larger regional or global war. Maritime power does not pose a direct, immediate threat to the regime’s survival in Beijing, and may permit the political leadership on both sides to reach an acceptable end to the conflict should hostilities ensue. At the same time, should the conflict escalate, sea control will become a prerequisite for any hope of defeating China on land, as unpalatable as that option may be.

Maritime power is also a more politically viable alternative in an age of budget austerity. It will meet our strategic security needs while providing flexible options to policy makers on appropriate responses to security challenges. This is not to suggest that the development and modernization of long-range strike platforms, amphibious assault ships, logistic facilities or scouting systems will be cheap. They will not. Yet we need not consider maritime power solely from the perspective of large surface combatants, long-range bombers or nuclear attack submarines. Smaller, stealthier and faster surface combatants armed with ASCMs or unmanned vehicles (surface, subsurface and air) as well as improved cyberspace capabilities can provide a significant “bang for the buck”.

Political viability is also important when considering international cooperation. As John Hattendorf notes, “Of the various kinds of military forces—land, air, and maritime forces – only navies and coast guards have the ready and established ability to be both weapons in war and benign elements in peace.” [5] International political support will require a credible military deterrent while maintaining a light footprint.

The pivot to Asia demands a rethinking of American maritime power and how we are to defeat China in a conflict. Thinking about and preparing for such a conflict will reassure allies and friends while signaling to China that we are willing to fight. Showing a sense of resolve will prevent miscalculation on the part of China’s leadership, allowing us to continue our policy of engagement. Our national security depends on our continued leadership in Asia. Cole reminds us: “It will remain America’s responsibility to maintain its economic and military presence, as well as the historic character of American ideology, if Chinese maritime hegemony is not to prevail in Asia.”

About the Author
LT Robert “Jake” Bebber USN is an information warfare officer assigned to the staff of United States Cyber Command. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Central Florida. He lives in Millersville, Maryland with his wife, Dana and their son, Vincent. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or U.S. Cyber Command. He welcomes your comments at jbebber@gmail.com.

Sources

[1] Logan, Justin. China, America and the Pivot to Asia. Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2013.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] AFP-Washington. China leads surge in Asian military spending, U.S. report says. Washington, D.C.: October 17, 2012.

[5] Hattendorf, John B. “The United States Navy in the Twenty-first Century: Thoughts on naval theory, strategic constraints and opportunities.” The Mariner’s Mirror 97, no. 1 (2011): 285-297. Pg. 296.

[1] Cole, op.cit., Pg. 201.

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A Feast of Cabbage and Salami: Part I – The Vocabulary of Asian Maritime Disputes

This is the first installment in a series of primers produced in partnership with The Diplomat.

“Words have meanings.” It’s easy to dismiss this statement as a truism. But words – and their meanings – do hold particular import in the multi-layered realm of maritime territorial disputes, where the distinction between a rock and an island can mean the difference between hundreds of square miles of Exclusive Economic Zone. At times, usage of words has itself opened new fronts in conflicts as nationalist fights over place names in textbooks have shown. Those wishing to understand and accurately describe maritime Asia’s long-standing territorial disputes must wade through a colorful and evolving vocabulary. So, in an effort to help bring clarity to the lexicon we offer this guide to common terms in use.

A Starter Legalese

conven1U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): UNCLOS is the international agreement that resulted from the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea from 1973-1982. It establishes the maritime zones that divide the modern seas, and the rights and sovereignty of states within them. It also provides means for determining sovereignty within disputed areas. The United States has neither signed nor ratified UNCLOS but regards all but several clauses relating to the International Seabed Authority as customary international law that it therefore follows. Several additional key international terms below are defined in UNCLOS. A full reading of the Convention is highly recommended for any serious student of international affairs to gain a better appreciation of the nuances of the terms than can be spelled out here:

Territorial Waters: Extends 12nm from a country’s internationally agreed upon baseline. A coastal state has full sovereignty over its territorial waters, but other states’ vessels (including military, but not aircraft) enjoy the Right of Innocent Passage through these waters so long as their passage is “continuous and expeditious,” and not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.” For example naval vessels cannot engage in spying during the transit and submarines must transit surfaced. A similar concept is that of Transit Passage, enabling the “continuous and expeditious” passage of all ships and aircraft through most international straits, as well as archipelagic states’ sea lane passages (straits formed by two islands of the same state).

Contiguous Zone: Extends from 12nm out to 24nm from a country’s baseline. Coastal states here enjoy rights limited to “customs, fiscal, immigration [and] sanitary laws and regulations.”

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Extends 200nm out from the baseline, wherein a state enjoys exclusive rights to natural resources such as fish and oil. States may also enjoy some resource exploitation rights in the seabed and subsoil beyond the EEZ depending on the lay of the Continental Shelf.

Artificial Islands: Of importance due to recent activity in the South China Sea, “Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.”

High Seas: Anything beyond a state’s EEZ. “No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.” The high seas are sometimes also referred to synonymously as International Waters, but this latter term is not well defined as it can also be used for everything outside a nation’s territorial waters. Note: Per UNCLOS, Piracy can technically occur only on the high seas or “in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state,” such as the waters of a failed state. This is why reporting of piracy statistics can be inaccurate unless it uses the term Piracy and Armed Robbery to capture piracy occurring within a nation’s EEZ.

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The Freedom of Navigation: The overarching right of ships (and aircraft with Freedom of Overflight) to transit the sea unimpeded except as restricted by international law. Some states, such as China, claim rights not afforded to it by UNCLOS or customary international law, namely the ability to restrict activities of military assets and aircraft not inbound within its contiguous zone and EEZ (see for example the recent dispute over the right of U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft to fly outside of its territorial waters). The United States conducts Freedom of Navigation operations to register its non-concurrence with China’s position on territorial rights, thereby preventing it from becoming accepted customary international law.

ITLOS (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea): Established by UNCLOS, its mandate is to “adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.” The Philippines has a case before the tribunal asking it to declare China’s Nine-Dash Line not in accordance with UNCLOS (and therefore not a valid basis for its South China Sea claims) – the ruling is expected in the next two years, but China is not taking part in the proceedings and has indicated it will not abide by the ruling.

Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ): According to Foreign Affairs, an ADIZ is “a publicly defined area extending beyond national territory in which unidentified aircraft are liable to be interrogated and, if necessary, intercepted for identification before they cross into sovereign airspace.” An ADIZ is not covered by any international agreement and does not confer any sovereignty over airspace or water, but has arguably become a part of customary international law due to its growing usage and acceptance. The rules China stipulated with its establishment of an ADIZ in the East China Sea in late 2013 however garnered widespread criticism and non-observation due to its surprise announcement and application to those flights not intending to enter sovereign airspace.

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Conduct for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES): CUES provides a set of non-binding “safety procedures, a basic communication plan and basic maneuvering instructions” when naval vessels and aircraft unexpectedly encounter each other at sea. It was agreed upon at the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium in April 2014, and while a code of conduct CUES should not be confused with the much-discussed and as yet elusive ASEAN Code of Conduct below.

Code of Conduct (CoC): In 2002, the member states of ASEAN and China signed a voluntary Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of parties in the South China Sea “to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.” This was to be the precursor to a binding CoC, but as Carl Thayer ably documents implementation of the CoC was kept in check for a decade by China and focus on Guidelines to Implement the DoC, which were approved in 2012. However, promises in the DoC such as to refrain from then uninhabited maritime features and to handle differences in a constructive manner have since been violated by actions including several parties’ ongoing construction and expansion on features under their control. As a result of this and because the Guidelines have been removed as the focus by adoption, many ASEAN states, with the Philippines foremost among them, have returned attention to reaching agreement on a legally binding CoC. There have been recent indications that China may be willing to soon start serious discussions about the Code of Conduct, but it is unclear whether it will be willing to accede to (let alone adhere to) any potent enforcement mechanisms.

A Strategic Buffet

Cabbage Strategy: In a television interview in May, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong described China’s approach towards securing control over and defending the Scarborough Shoal, after reneging on an agreement with the United States whereby both they and the Philippines would back down from a standoff in 2012:

Surrounding a contested area with so many boats — fishermen, fishing administration ships, marine surveillance ships, navy warships — that “the island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage.”

140527-china-vietnam-5a_7de94800443e43ddcb5c34b519f8b5e8.nbcnews-ux-960-600Analysts note this approach forces those opposing China’s actions to contend not only with layers of capabilities but also rules of engagement and public relations issues such as would arise from a confrontation between naval vessels facing fishing boats at the outermost layer. A more recent example of this layered approach occurred this summer with the arrival of a CNOOC oil rig in Vietnam’s claimed EEZ.

Salami Tactics (A.K.A. Salami Slicing): This term was coined by Hungary’s Cold War Communist ruler Matyas Rokosi to depict his party’s rise to power in the 1940s. The emphasis is on incremental action. In the initial usage it described the piecemeal isolation and destruction of right wing, and then moderate political forces. In maritime Asia it has come to be used to describe China’s incremental actions to assert sovereignty over areas of disputed territory. A key aspect of Salami Tactics is the underpinning rationale that the individual actions will be judged too small or inconsequential by themselves to provoke reaction strong enough to stop further moves.

The Three Warfares: The Three Warfares is a concept of information warfare developed by the PLA and formally approved by China in 2003aimed at preconditioning key areas of competition in its favor.” The U.S. DoD defined the three as:

  1. Psychological Warfare: Undermining “an enemy’s ability to conduct combat operations” by “deterring, shocking, and demoralizing enemy military personnel and supporting civilian populations.”
  2. Media Warfare: “Influencing domestic and international public opinion to build support for China’s military actions and dissuade an adversary from pursuing actions contrary to China’s interests.”
  3. Legal Warfare (also known as Lawfare): Using “international and domestic law to claim the legal high ground or assert Chinese interests. It can be employed to hamstring an adversary’s operational freedom and shape the operational space.” This type of warfare is also tied to attempts at building international support.

Chinas-Nuclear-SubmarinesAnti-Access / Area Denial (A2/AD): describes the challenges military forces face in operating in an area. According to the U.S. DoD A2 affects movement to a theater: “action intended to slow deployment of friendly forces into a theater or cause forces to operate from distances.” AD, meanwhile, affects maneuver within a theater: “action intended to impede friendly operations within areas where an adversary cannot or will not prevent access.” Advances in weapons such as mines, torpedoes, submarines, and anti-ship missiles are commonly cited examples of those that can be used for A2/AD.

Air-Sea Battle (ASB): A warfare concept designed by the United States military to counter A2/AD challenges and ensure freedom of action by trying to “integrate the Services [primarily the Navy and Air Force] in new and creative ways.” ASB is not a “strategy or operational plan for a specific region or adversary.” There has been much debate and confusion about ASB, in part because it requires the development and balancing of new complimentary capabilities, many of them classified.

Offshore Control: A strategy for the United States to win in the event of a conflict with China put forward in 2012 by USMC Col. T.X. Hammes (Ret.). In Offshore Control, the United States focuses on bringing economic pressures to bear via a tailored blockade, working with and defending partners along the first island chain rather than strikes against mainland China.

Four Respects: The Four Respects is a new term fellow The Diplomat contributor Jiye Ki, based on remarks made by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier in September. They are the four guiding principles by which Wang says South China Sea negotiations should proceed, namely:

  1. The dispute over the Spratlys “is a problem left over by history,” and that “handling the dispute should first of all respect historical facts.”
  2. “Respect international laws” on territorial disputes and UNCLOS.
  3. Direct dialogue and consultation between the countries involved should be respected as it has proven to be the most effective way to solve the dispute.
  4. Respect efforts that China and ASEAN have made to jointly maintain peace and stability. Wang says China hopes countries outside the area can play constructive roles.

Mutual Economic Obliteration Worldwide (MEOW): A term coined by yours truly to describe the deterrent effect of the threat of economic side-effects of a conflict between the United States and China on their actions towards each other.

See any we missed? Part 2 will cover the Geography of Asian Maritime Disputes

Scott Cheney-Peters is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former editor of Surface Warfare magazine. He is the founder and president of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), a graduate of Georgetown University and the U.S. Naval War College, and a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.

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Sea Control 58 – ADM Parry’s Super Highway

seacontrol2We interview ADM Chris Parry (RN, Ret) on his new book, Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century. We discuss his intentions in writing the book, the changing nature of technology & sea power, the impacts of an inevitably changing climate, and how to face the challenge of those pushing for new norms in contradiction to the freedom of the seas.

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Sea Control 57 – Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China

seacontrol2Discussing the Hong Kong protests and Taiwan’s recent statements in regard to them and China with Dean Cheng… and some India thrown in at the end.

 

DOWNLOAD: Sea Control 57- Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China

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Note: Thanks to Sam LaGrone for the kickin’ new tunes.