Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Hiroshi Yuasa

【#246】Form Coalition to Contain China’s Ambition

Hiroshi Yuasa / 2014.05.15 (Thu)

May 12, 2014

      China has taken a 19th Century imperialistic approach by unilaterally drawing the so-called nine-dotted line in the South China Sea to plunder island territories from countries facing the sea. After forcibly depriving the Philippines of the Scarborough Reef, China is now deploying an oil-drilling rig near the Paracel Islands subject to its territorial dispute with Vietnam. It has mobilized as many as 80 ships including seven warships to escort the rig. In response, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has been reluctant to wage any disputes, has at last issued an unusual statement of its foreign ministers expressing “serious concern” over the Chinese action. China’s incremental approach to change the status quo by force will encourage other Asian countries to get united to contain China.

Ships’ ramming similar to Senkaku incident
      China has falsely reiterated Vietnamese ships protesting against the rig installation intentionally rammed Chinese ships. In fact, Vietnam has released video footage depicting Chinese ships as firing water cannons at and ramming Vietnamese ships. We have got aware of the Chinese tactic through the 2010 incident in which an illegally operating Chinese fishing boat rammed Japan Coast Guard patrol ships near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. At the time of the incident, the then Democratic Party of Japan-led government fearful of repercussions from China woefully refused to release the relevant video footage and allowed the fishing boat’s captain to return home, instead of indicting him.
      On a major U.S. newspaper, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has compared China’s territorial assertiveness to Adolf Hitler’s before World War II. China has forcibly and effectively controlled the Scarborough Reef to which China and the Philippines have made territorial claims.
      U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed U.S. security commitments in Asia during his tour of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in April. U.S. strategists have interpreted China’s use of force in the South China Sea after Obama’s Asian tour as indicating a Chinese attempt to test U.S. and ASEAN’s determination.

Imperialistic pattern of actions
      Otto von Bismarck, known as German's iron chancellor in the 19th century, said that any imperialistic nation complies with international law only in an advantageous situation and easily dispatches troops in a disadvantageous situation. This approach may be similar to the Chinese pattern of actions.
      The United Nations Law of the Sea Convention recommends parties to a dispute not to endanger or block agreement. China's unilateral installation of the rig runs counter to the recommendation. It also goes against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as agreed between China and ASEAN and will delay China-ASEAN talks on a binding code of conduct that ASEAN hopes to establish.
      How can China's ambition be contained? Vietnam and the Philippines are attempting to depict China as aggressor through diplomatic campaigns not only in ASEAN countries but also in the entire international community. In response to the campaigns, Japan should quickly declare lifting a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense and involve the United States in efforts to deter China. Coastal states should be united to isolate China and demonstrate to China that any imperialistic action would be counterproductive.

Hiroshi Yuasa is Columnist for the Sankei Shimbun and Planning Committee Member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.