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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

Old 3rd May 2018, 16:02
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There’s more from the South China Daily Post:

Canadian navy frigate HMCS Vancouver begins six-day port call in Hong Kong

A Canadian navy frigate began a six-day port call in Hong Kong on Thursday, ahead of an exercise with the Chinese navy outside of the city. The HMCS Vancouver arrived at about 10am, making the first port visit of its trip to Asia...
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Old 15th May 2018, 05:34
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http://www.defensenews.com/global/as...s-from-taiwan/

MELBOURNE, Australia — China is expanding an airbase on the East China Sea coast, adding facilities that potentially allow it to permanently base combat aircraft closer to Taiwan and islands of which both China and Japan claim ownership.

Satellite photos taken in April show that the construction of new 24 aircraft shelters, taxiways and additional buildings are on the verge of being completed at the airbase near the town of Xiapu, in China’s coastal Fujian Province. The new aircraft shelters are built in a semi-dispersed state in six clusters of four, with two clusters built near the end of the single 1.7-mile-long runway and the rest located in one of two aircraft dispersal area which already has 15 of the 20 hardened and camouflaged aircraft shelters at the base. Each of the new shelters measures approximately 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, which is more than enough to accommodate China’s Sukhoi Su-30/35 and Shenyang J-11/15/16 Flanker family of fighter jets.

Several military buildings have also been built as part of the upgrading project, which also includes five new barracks blocks along with what retired Col. Vinayak Bhat, who previously served as a satellite imagery analyst with the Indian Army, told Defense News appear to be parking garages and testing and inspection facilities for vehicles. Land clearing is also taking place at the north eastern corner of the base complex, suggesting more facilities could yet be added.

The semi-dispersed nature of the new aircraft shelters is a departure from the normal practice at Chinese bases, whose shelters are normally built in straight lines with the housed aircraft parked side by side, and is likely to reflect the frontline nature of the airbase.

The base is located just 160 miles from Taiwan’s capital Taipei and 225 miles from the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, making it closer to the islands than the nearest Japanese combat aircraft which are based 260 miles away at Naha in Okinawa. China is also claiming ownership of the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu Islands.

The construction of the new aircraft shelters at the airbase could point to China upgrading it to a fully-fledged operational airbase with its own permanently assigned combat aircraft regiment or brigade. It had previously been used only as a deployment base since completion in 2012, hosting ongoing rotating detachments of approximately 12 People’s Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF fighter jets........






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Old 15th May 2018, 06:51
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Plan well on track to invade by 2020.
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Old 15th May 2018, 07:06
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Old 15th May 2018, 08:31
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Debts in thirld world countries aren't collectable. They just shrug and renege... ask any western country
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Old 15th May 2018, 08:56
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the West didn't enforce payment. Like comparing loans from Lloyds and the Mafia....
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Old 15th May 2018, 09:05
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It seems to me that 2020 is unlikely. I suspect that Xi Jinping has decided that it's not on in the short term and that is why he has made it possible for himself to seek further terms in office and to wait for a time when America's resolve may have diminished. He eyes his place on the pantheon and to be up there with the greats you have to have reunited China - a country that has continually split and come together again over the centuries. On the other hand, nothing that China does ceases to surprise me.
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Old 15th May 2018, 09:58
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Originally Posted by Barksdale Boy
It seems to me that 2020 is unlikely. .
I hope you're right.
But personally, I see a rapidly emboldening (is that a word?) China - led a by a shrewd and calculating authoritarian strongman - and I believe that somewhere in Beijing, there is a 20 year plan of militarisation of the Nine Dash Line, the deployment of viable CVAs, the not so subtle economic diplomacy in the South West Pacific and the veiled threats to Australia are all part of.
Am part way into a book about CCP influence in Australia; it was derided by Chinese commentators as biased and xenophobic when published - yet so far it seems very reasonably argued - and more than a little disturbing.
Had the privilege of spending two weeks in Shanghai with the BBC in 2001, producing two programs on the Internet in China.
Two things remain with me to this day.
The jaw dropping, complete lack of knowledge (honest) of our lovely young Chinese interpreter and guide about Tiananmen Square, and more latterly the Hainan Island P3 incident which had happened months before.
And the absolute certainty that China rivalled ancient Rome and other similar societies, and should therefore be accorded the due international respect they deserve.
I like my Peking duck, Chinese culture and mad, cosmopolitan craziness of Shanghai as much as anyone else.
But I feel this is all going to get very ugly.
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Old 19th May 2018, 05:37
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”describing the exercise as preparation for “the west Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...na-sea-islands

China lands nuclear strike-capable bombers on South China Sea islands

China’s air force has landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region, it said in a statement. Several bombers of various types – including the long-range, nuclear strike capable H-6K – carried out landing and take off drills at an unidentified island airfield after carrying out simulated strike training on targets at sea, the Chinese airforce said.

“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” it said. The statement said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the west Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

The notice, published on the PLAAF’s Weibo microblogging account, did not provide the precise location of the exercise........ In an analysis published on its website, CSIS said the location of the runway was believed to be Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan........

http://alert5.com/2018/05/18/h-6k-bo...racel-islands/




Last edited by ORAC; 19th May 2018 at 06:20.
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Old 19th May 2018, 06:18
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A Chinese plan to isolate Australia?

https://chineseaidmap.lowyinstitute.org/

Russian interest?

Russian naval ship set to dock in Port Moresby but Papua New Guinea, Australia downplay visit - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tu-95 over the south Pacific.

Australian Defence Force on heightened alert during Russian military exercise in Indonesia - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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Old 17th Aug 2018, 10:11
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https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a...ress-mxzc9j9fr

Fears over Pacific ‘debt colonies’ as Tonga struggles to repay China

Fears that China is using loans as leverage over Pacific nations to expand its military footprint have sharpened after the island state of Tonga admitted it was in “debt distress”. Critics say that credit extended by Beijing and by Chinese state banks to impoverished developing nations with limited ability to repay them constitutes a form of “debt colonialism” and is a pretext to advance China’s wider strategic aims, including new bases allowing it to project military power deep into the South Pacific. Tonga’s prime minister said yesterday that he was concerned that Beijing was preparing to seize assets in exchange for unpaid debts and urged neighbouring Pacific countries that also owe money to band together and press for the loans to be written off.

Tonga’s prime minister, said that repayments it has to make to China’s Export Import Bank on two loans totalling $116 million will put severe financial pressure on his nation of 109,000 people. The loans are worth more than a quarter of its GDP. “It has become a serious issue. We have debt distress,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before next week’s meeting of Pacific leaders, including those from Australia and New Zealand.

He raised the prospect that China might seize Tongan assets if the island nation defaulted on its repayments — citing as a precedent Beijing’s recent takeover of a Sri Lankan port after Colombo struggled with a spiralling debt. “If it happens in Sri Lanka, it can happen in the Pacific — so it is entirely an option for China to consider,” Mr Pohiva said. “It is no longer an individual issue for countries to consider. It has become now an issue for all countries who have loans from China. I think these small countries will eventually come together to find a way out.”

Beijing defended its lending to small Pacific states as “sincere and unselfish” and said that it only provided loans to nations that could afford the repayments.

For years Beijing denied that it was militarising the South China Sea but it has fortified islets and reefs that it claims with runways and missile batteries. Now it appears to be expanding its aims much farther into the Pacific. Tonga is one of several nations in the region that have obtained finance from China, prompting fears within the Australian government that some of the money has been spent on highly questionable projects. In January Australia’s minister for the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, said: “We want to ensure that the infrastructure that you do build is actually productive and is actually going to give some economic benefit or some sort of health benefit. We just don’t want to build a road that doesn’t go anywhere.”

Sydney’s Lowy Institute think tank, which has closely monitored China’s activities in the Pacific, has calculated that Beijing has poured nearly $1.8 billion into Pacific countries since 2006. Canberra expressed alarm in April that China had apparently approached Vanuatu, about 1,200 miles northeast of Brisbane, about establishing a permanent Chinese military presence on a key gateway to Australia’s east coast.

Among the projects that China’s $243 million in aid to Vanuatu has built is the largest wharf in the South Pacific, considered capable of accommodating aircraft carriers.



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Old 17th Aug 2018, 15:30
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I wouldn't be surprised to see several African countries experiencing the same squeeze, but over minerals rather than territory.

Jonathan Freedland wrote a novel based on China doing similar to the US. Maybe not so fanciful fiction now.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 07:39
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I was in Tonga a couple of years back and the problem was obvious then.

Trouble is these small nations (and their rulers) want all the bells and whistles of the larger countries and have nowhere near enough income to pay for the life style. Tonga has been exporting people for years - the best & the brightest go off to New Zealand or Australia, the country runs on patronage, the only "resource" is fishing licences. Who can forget the time they had TWO airlines for example - both of which went bust IIRC - when the Tongan Navy literally had no fuel available at all. They were dependent on the RNZN to carry out basic tasks such as moving supplies to the northern islands at the time

The Chinese are willing to pay for influence - I doubt it will do them a lot of good in the long-term - but unless the rest of the world is willing to stump up they're the only show in town for places like Tonga, Nauru etc etc
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 08:51
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Sounds like some western coordinated economic development plan for these areas would be the best strategic move to counter/contain Chinas expanding influence? They plan very long time for sure and many moves ahead over tens of years. Just look how "they" buy themselves into port authorities globally.
So this is not easy to counter by short term elected zigzagging western politicians and one P-8 patrol here and there. We would need something like a 50 year or 100 year plan ourselves.
There must be a lot of useful cold war lessons learned when the Soviet Union expanded it's area of influence in Africa back then?
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 10:59
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Well the Aussies and the Kiwi's (and the French of course) do their best but even their voters are starting to rebel.............
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 15:34
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The main result of financial aid to the South Pacific is the increase in property prices in the Gold Coast.
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Old 11th Sep 2018, 07:41
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Not South Seas - but pertinent and related.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/e...ir-force-base/
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Old 16th Sep 2018, 07:27
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https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/s...meen-5lqvkwzs3

Sorcery and addiction to Beijing’s cash may spell defeat for Maldives’ Abdulla Yameen

For the tourists sipping cocktails and soaking up the sun next to the azure waters of coral-ringed islands, it was just another week in paradise on the Maldives. But away from these luxury resorts, Abdulla Yameen, the country’s autocratic leader, has been waging a brutish election campaign, stifling dissent and jailing enemies, including his own half-brother — and all amid rampant dirty tricks and lurid allegations of black magic rituals.

The significance of next Sunday’s vote spreads far beyond the country of 400,000 people living on 26 atolls dotted across 35,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean. The archipelago is at the centre of a bitter struggle of regional powers.

To the dismay of India, victory for Yameen would consolidate the grip of his foreign backers, China and Saudi Arabia, over the strategic island chain, which sits on key shipping lanes and is a fertile breeding ground for Islamist radicals. Success for the opposition would undermine Beijing’s global maritime ambitions.

Yameen last week praised his deep-pocketed patrons in Beijing and Riyadh for their largesse while criticising the UK and US for “imperialism” for lining up targeted sanctions on regime henchmen if the elections are not deemed free and fair........

Yameen has a single focus for his campaign — a slew of infrastructure projects funded with Chinese loans. He has visited 68 islands in three months to inaugurate 133 projects, in what the opposition claims is a blatant misuse of public funds for electioneering. Indeed, the president has been in such a rush that he has opened several unfinished projects. On one day he inaugurated a new harbour, even though the lagoon had not been deepened to allow boats to dock, and then opened a new hospital, although the building had no doctors and few medical facilities.

The two most expensive projects are an expansion of the airport and last month’s opening of a new road bridge linking it to the capital, Male. Both have been built with huge Chinese loans, prompting fears that the Maldives are falling into a crippling debt trap with Beijing.

To the alarm of India and the US, there are reports that Yameen might grant China a military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.........



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Old 17th Sep 2018, 19:17
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Hmm, so China are paying for hospitals ports and airports while we’re threatening sanctions. I wonder which side they’ll choose?
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Old 17th Sep 2018, 23:31
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Originally Posted by ShotOne
Hmm, so China are paying for hospitals ports and airports while we’re threatening sanctions. I wonder which side they’ll choose?
This is following the established pattern the Chinese use in gaining power. Provide aid in the form of loans, the repayments which are certain to be unaffordable. When the repayments are not made the chinese come in and take a long term lease 99 years in the case of a port in SriLanka in excange of the debt being re negotiated or forgiven. China gets its expansion, the 'hosts' get reamed. And the world stands back and watches. Here is Australia we have a crippling drought in the Eastern states - there are many that believe we need to cancel foreign aid and support or farmers. Apart from being economically stupid (the aid eds up assisting our economy on a nett basis), it means we will be effectively ceeding control of near neighbours to China. Dumb, just dumb.
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