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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 7-Sep-2018
7-Sep-18 World View -- Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea

Web Log - September, 2018

7-Sep-18 World View -- Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea

China's 'nine-dash line map' makes absurd claims to South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea

Military vehicles in the loading dock of the HMS Albion (Reuters)
Military vehicles in the loading dock of the HMS Albion (Reuters)

Late last month, the HMS Albion, a British Royal Navy flagship amphibious assault ship, was traveling through the South China Sea, en route from Tokyo to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. The 22,000 ton amphibious warship was carrying a contingent of Royal Marines.

On August 31, the ship exercised its "freedom of navigation" rights as it passed near the Paracel Islands. The Paracel Islands have been ruled by the courts to be in international waters, but China has used military force to annex them, in clear violation of international law.

China immediately launched a military challenge of the British ship by dispatching a frigate and two helicopters. However, both sides remained calm during the encounter.

In 2016, China claimed "ironclad proof" of the sovereignty of the Paracel Islands. The proof consisted of a 600 year old handwritten book by fisherman Su Chengfen, who uses the book as a guide to the various routes between the islands.

The BBC decided to investigate, and tracked down the fisherman. As I reported at the time, the BBC found that the book did not exist, and China's claim to the Paracel Islands is a hoax.

This didn't stop China's foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday from saying, "The relevant behavior of the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty. China is firmly opposed to this."

This is a lie on several levels. The Chinese think that their laws are the laws of the world, and they specifically repudiate international law when it goes against them. The invoke international law as a kind of word game when they believe it favors them.

In 2016, China was thoroughly humiliated when all of their activities in the South China Sea were declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

China's response to the court ruling at the time was that it was "completely a political farce staged under legal pretext," and it was "plotted and manipulated by certain forces outside the region," which could mean either the Europeans or the Americans or both. The spokesman at the time continued, "Its purpose is clearly not to seek proper settlement of disputes with China, but to violate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and put peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy."

The logic of the Chinese statement is that China's "territorial sovereignty" over the region are a given, and any challenge puts "peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy."

That of course is a threat: Any challenge will be met with a military response. Reuters and China Foreign Ministry (6-Sep-2018) and China Foreign Ministry (13-Jul-2016)

China's 'nine-dash line map' makes absurd claims to South China Sea

China's 'nine-dash line' encompasses the entire South China Sea, going as far away as Indonesia's Natuna Island, which is nowhere near China (BBC)
China's 'nine-dash line' encompasses the entire South China Sea, going as far away as Indonesia's Natuna Island, which is nowhere near China (BBC)

China's "historic" claims to the South China Sea are either hoaxes, like the claim to the Paracel Islands described above, or worthless, or challenged by equally valid historic claims from other countries, including Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.

The arbitrariness of China's claims is shown by its claim to Indonesia's Natuna Island. In 2016, China sent its coast guard warships to ram Indonesian vessels in the Natuna Sea. What's going on here is that the Natuna Sea is extremely rich in fishing grounds. The Natuna Sea is clearly Indonesia's territory, since it's very far from China, but that makes no difference to China. It's amazing in the 21st century that a country feels it's perfectly OK to steal another country's assets, and even feels entitled to them.

China's "historic claims" to the South China Sea really go no farther back than to 1947. According to one historical analysis:

"And finally, China’s so-called “historic claims” to the South China Sea are actually not “centuries old.” They only go back to 1947, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government drew the so-called “eleven-dash line” on Chinese maps of the South China Sea, enclosing the Spratly Islands and other chains that the ruling Kuomintang party declared were now under Chinese sovereignty. Chiang himself, saying he saw German fascism as a model for China, was fascinated by the Nazi concept of an expanded Lebensraum (“living space”) for the Chinese nation. He did not have the opportunity to be expansionist himself because the Japanese put him on the defensive, but cartographers of the nationalist regime drew the U-shape of eleven dashes in an attempt to enlarge China’s “living space” in the South China Sea. Following the victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war in 1949, the People’s Republic of China adopted this cartographic coup, revising Chiang’s notion into a “nine-dash line” after erasing two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1953."

What's interesting about this analysis is the relationship of Chiang to Hitler's "Lebensraum" concept, where Hitler felt entitled to invade and annex larger regions of Russia for German expansion. In other words, Chiang felt that the Chinese were the Master Race, just as Hitler's Nazis felt they were the Master Race, entitled to take anything they wanted.

I've written in the past that Xi Jinping is following in the footsteps of Hitler, adopting a government similar to Hitler's National Socialism, and feeling entitled to annex regions that have historically belonged to other countries. ( "24-Oct-17 World View -- Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism")

This analysis makes it clear that this attitude is not recent, and didn't start with Xi Jinping. Apparently the Chinese were quite impressed with Hitler in World War II, and the 1947 map was meant to copy Hitler.

Today, China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy. And they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the entire world. World Affairs Journal (June 2013) and CSIS (12-Jun-2015) and Diplomat (21-Jun-2016) and BBC (20-Oct-2014)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Sep-18 World View -- Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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