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Beijing Condemns Washington’s Interference After Latest ‘Freeop’ In South China Sea

Beijing Condemns Washington’s Interference After Latest ‘Freeop’ In South China Sea 

The endless back-and-forth of provocations between the US and China in the South China Sea continued apace on Thursday as Bejing condemned the latest US “freedom of navigation” operation near a set of disputed reefs in the South China Sea, according to the SCMP.

On Wednesday, the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross and Mischief reefs, the two biggest artificial islands – or, as Steve Bannon calls them, ‘stationary aircraft carriers’ – in the disputed Spratlys.

According to the SCMP, it was the first time an American warship had challenged two Chinese military outposts at once in a “freedom of navigation” operation. On Thursday, Senior Colonel Li Huamin, spokesman of the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command, accused Washington of “acting as a hegemony in ignorance of the international laws and rules” and urged itto stop its “provocative actions” to avoid an “unpredictable incident.”

Suggesting that the mission almost resulted in a confrontation, Li said the PLA Navy and Air Force monitored and warned the destroyer, ultimately driving it out of Chinese territory.

Meanwhile, Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for US 7th Fleet, said US forces operated in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea, and that these operations were simply to make sure the US can still operate in accordance with international law.

“All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate whatever international law allows,” she said.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, an area rich in resources and through which trillions of dollars in trade passes each year. Despite international court rulings contradicting this claim, Beijing has occupied the Paracel Islands, built up the Spratlys, and assigned significant military forces to them.

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Is China Preparing for War?

War with China is on the drawing board of the Pentagon. China has responded to US threats and military deployments in the Indo-Pacific region. President Xi Jinping has ordered the People’s Liberation Army to prepare for a possible war.

Addressing China’s Central Military Commission, Xi said

“(a)ll military units must correctly understand major national security and development trends, and strengthen their sense of unexpected hardship, crisis and battle.”

“The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development.”

Xi ordered stepped up military training and exercises, saying China’s armed forces must “prepare for a comprehensive military struggle from a new starting point”, adding:

“Preparation for war and combat must be deepened to ensure an efficient response in times of emergency.”

Days earlier, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily editorial stressed there’s “no time for slackening in war preparation.”

Part of what’s going on is what Xi called his aim for “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan. Beijing considers the island state a breakaway province, reunification inevitable, by force if “democratic consultations” fail to “reach transitional arrangements for the peaceful development of cross-strait ties,” adding:

“Chinese don’t fight Chinese,” while saying his government “makes no promise to renounce the use of force and reserves the option of taking all necessary means” for reunification, stressing no tolerance for “foreign intervention.”

“(O)ne country, two systems” is the way forward, he said, the approach adopted in reunification with Hong Kong and Macau.

Xi’s remarks followed enactment of the US Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), discussed in a separate article – legislation authorizing funding for Washington’s imperial Indo/Pacific agenda, mainly by its military footprint in a part of the world not its own, the way it operates globally.

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Deadly Chinese Drones Now Lurk Above Mideast Battlefields

Across the Middle East, countries banned from purchasing armed drones from the US due to a weapons embargo are increasingly gravitating towards Chinese defense manufacturers, according to a new report from the Associated Press, sales that “are helping expand Chinese influence across a region vital to American security interests.”

“The Chinese product now doesn’t lack technology, it only lacks market share,” said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military strategist and former lecturer at the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force University of Engineering. “And the United States restricting its arms exports is precisely what gives China a great opportunity.”

The sales are supporting China’s expansion across a region home to many strategic US military bases, as well as, future routes for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“It’s a hedging strategy and the Chinese will look to benefit from that,” said Douglas Barrie, an aviation specialist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The AP notes that Chinese drones are more frequently conducting aerial operations in the skies above Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Nigeria, Yemen, Iraq, and the UAE thanks to booming sales, with more than 30 China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics’s Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles worth $700 million being sold to countries since 2014.

Chinese arms exports have expanded 38% from 2008 to 2012 and from 2013 to 2017, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data.

Earlier this year, a spy satellite passing above southern Saudi Arabia snapped a pictured of US surveillance drones and Chinese-manufactured armed drones, parked side by side at an airfield.

According to the Center for the Study of the Drone at New York’s Bard College, both drones were being used in the war in Yemen, has emerged as a “sort of a testing ground for drones,” said Dan Gettinger, the co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone.

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China’s Official Military Newspaper Warns: “War Is Not Far”

War is not far from us. Regional situations around China are complex and unstable, and dangers are hiding under the peace. China cannot afford a military failure, so we must be fully aware of potential crisis and be prepared for battle at all times. When the country is on the brink of becoming a great military power, it’s also stepping into a period with high risks to national security,” the official People’s Liberation Army (PLA) newspaper wrote according to China’s Global Times.

The article first headlined on Tuesday in the PLA daily: “A soldier without desire for war-preparedness is not a good soldier.” The newspaper warned that Chinese soldiers are not ready for combat because many refuse to believe war is imminent.

Military experts agree that the threat of a conflict around China has increased in recent years.

“In regions like the Korea Peninsula, China-India border area and the Taiwan Straits, the PLA needs to be prepared for all possibilities. Our overseas interests in regions like Africa and the Middle East are also under threat due to local instability,” said Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and senior adviser of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association according to the Global Times.

Last week, President Xi Jinping kicked off the new year with a rare speech to the military urging soldiers to be ready for war and “don’t fear death.”

China’s soldiers should “neither fear hardship nor death,” Xi told thousands of troops during an inspection visit last Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting war drills at home and abroad involving most of its military branches.

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China’s Xi Warns Military: Be Ready For War & “Don’t Fear Death”

In what is being characterized as a rare address to the world’s largest fighting force, President Xi Jinping on January 04 urged the Chinese military to be ready for war and ‘don’t fear death’.

As the beat of the war drums gets louder in East Asia and abroad, Xi’s rare speech to the military kicked off the New Year with a grim warning, as China and other countries in the region could be preparing for a turbulent year ahead.

China’s soldiers should “neither fear hardship nor death,” Xi told thousands of troops during an inspection visit Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.


Xi advised the military to continue improving upon its equipment, tactics, technology, and combat readiness by engaging in “real combat training.”

He further said, the need to “create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfill the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era.”

In recent years, Xi has ushered in a period of modernization of China’s military, which has worried Asia and Washington alike. Xi is head of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, who is also the commander-in-chief of China’s two million-strong military. In October, he claimed his status to be the strongest leader in China that country has seen in decades during the 19th communist party congress.

Local Chinese media outlets report that Xi’s mobilization meeting with the entire armed forces is a first of its kind. Xi stated the goal of the Chinese military is to become a “world class” force by 2050. Perhaps, Xi has hinted at the time period when China expects to overtake the United States.

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Chinese Military Rushed To North Korean Border In “Preparation For War”: Report

A Chinese province along the border with North Korea is seeing an influx of Chinese tanks, soldiers, and military trucks, according to the  DailyNK and the Daily Star.


According to the same report, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces have been building up military assets in the cover of the night around the Tumen River in Yanji city, Jilin province, which borders North Korea.


One source told the Daily NK, “there were so many soldiers in the car that there was a lot of traffic. I have not seen so many soldiers trucking to Yanji so far.”

Another source said, “Chinese troops are gathering around the Yalu and Tumen rivers. It is also heard that the tanks are moving to the North and the Chinese border.”


Chinese authorities have reportedly told local residents near the Northern Korean border: “Trump to hit North Korea in the New Year, we are preparing for war on the peninsula.” 

And according to the Daily Star: Chinese military officials have recently conducted the so-called “war ceremony” – urging their troops to be ready to fight.

If the media report is accurate, it would suggest that China – fearing the worst – is preparing for war on the Korean Penisula. Previously, internal documents leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company shows three villages and cities in the northeastern border province of Jilin, have been designated for refugee camps-if war breaks out. China is afraid a swarm of refugees from North Korea could cross the Tumen River into China.

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US Will Send Warships To China Islands “Twice A Quarter”, Pentagon Says

US Will Send Warships To China Islands “Twice A Quarter”, Pentagon Says

Last week, the US did a silly thing. The Pentagon sent the USS Lassen to Subi Reef in the Spratlys just to see if Washington could sail by China’s man-made islands in the South Pacific without getting shot at.

(Subi reef)

(USS Lassen)

As ridiculous as that sounds from a kind of “let’s not start World War III” perspective, it’s an entirely accurate assessment of Obama’s “freedom of navigation” exercise. There was no reason whatsoever for the US to be there and the pass-by served no purpose at all other than to test Beijing’s patience.

To be sure, China isn’t innocent here. They’ve built 3,000 acres of sovereign territory atop reefs in disputed waters and built runways, ports, and cement factories on their new “land” which understandably makes Washington’s regional allies like The Philippines a bit nervous.

Still, it isn’t as if the PLA is about to invade Australia and it seems likely that if one could listen in at The Pentagon, US officials could probably care less about these “sandcastles.” But America’s “friends” in the region think that “this is the time for courage” (to borrow and alter a classic Gartman-ism), and so, Washington felt compelled to sail a warship by the islands just to prove it could. China didn’t fire on or surround the US-flagged guided missile destroyer, but the PLA did follow it and Beijing subsequently expressed its extreme displeasure at the “exercise.”

As we noted before and after the “incident”, most “experts” believe the US will need to keep up the patrols if they’re to be “effective.” Sure enough, The Pentagon now says destroyers will sail within 12 nautical miles of the islands twice every three months. Here’s Reuters:

The U.S. Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea about twice a quarter, a U.S. defense official said on Monday.

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It’s On: Obama Sends Destroyer To Chinese Islands, China Vows Military Response

It’s On: Obama Sends Destroyer To Chinese Islands, China Vows Military Response

For anyone who might still be somehow unaware, the US is currently in a superpower staring match with both Russia and China. The conflict in Syria has put Moscow back on the geopolitical map (so to speak), creating an enormous amount of tension with Washington whose regional allies have been left to look on in horror as Russian airstrikes and an Iranian ground incursion dash hopes of ousting President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, in The South China Sea, Beijing has built 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory atop reefs in the Spratlys and although the reclamation effort itself isn’t unique, the scope of it most certainly is and Washington’s friends in the South Pacific are crying foul.

Beijing has continually insisted that it doesn’t intend to use the islands as military outposts, but the construction of runways and ports seems to tell a different story and so, Washington felt compelled to check things out over the summer by sending a Poseidon spy plane complete with a CNN crew to the area. Once the PLA spotted the plane the situation escalated quickly with the Chinese Navy telling US pilots to “Go Now!”

After that, an intense war of words developed with Defense Secretary Ash Carter insisting that the US would sail and fly anywhere it pleased and Beijing assuring the US that sailing within 12 nautical miles of the islands would prompt a harsh response from the PLA.

For weeks, the US was rumored to have been planning a freedom of navigation exercise in the Spratlys which, as we’ve pointed out several times this month, amounts to sailing by the islands just to see if China will shoot.

Just in: @USNavy prepared to sail w/i 12mi of China’s manmade islands in “w/i 24hrs”, has POTUS approval -Def. Official

Obama Won’t Back Down After Chinese Threat, Sends U.S. Warships To Contested Islands In “Matter Of Days”

Obama Won’t Back Down After Chinese Threat, Sends U.S. Warships To Contested Islands In “Matter Of Days”

On Friday, we reported the latest provocation in what has truly become a very dangerous, if largely pointless, staring contest between Beijing and Washington over China’s reclamation of land in The South China Sea.

Responding to suggestions that the US was set to sail warships around the islands Beijing has constructed atop reefs in the Spratlys, China served noticed that it would “never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight.” This was simply a formalized version of the more concise phrasing the PLA navy used when they instructed the pilots flying a US spy plane to “Go now!” when it ventured too close to Fiery Cross earlier this year.

It’s not immediately clear what China intends to do with the islands and further, it’s not entirely clear why anyone should necessarily care if Beijing wants to build “sand castles” in the middle of the ocean, but then again, for America’s regional allies the land reclamation efforts look a lot an attempt to build a series of military outposts by creating sovereign territory where there was none thereby effectively redrawing maritime boundaries and so, big brother in Washington is set to step in in order to protect vital shipping lanes.

Of course having already said that the navy plans to sail ships into the waters around the islands, the US can ill-afford to allow China’s “we won’t tolerate that” pronouncement to deter the Pentagon because the optics around that would be terrible at a time when the world is already questioning the strength and resolve of the US military. So the ships will indeed sail. Here’s WSJ:

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