South China Sea recce: China warns US of possible accident

Beijing has expressed its opposition to frequent and close-in US reconnaissance of China.

“For a long time, U.S. military ships and aircraft have carried out frequent, widespread, and up-close surveillance of China, seriously harming bilateral mutual trust and China’s security interests, which could easily cause an accident at sea or in the air,” the press office of the Ministry of National Defense said according to the People’s Daily.

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of US Pacific Fleet, observes operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon aircraft during a July 18 flight hosted by the Pelicans of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of US Pacific Fleet, observes operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon aircraft during a July 18 flight hosted by the Pelicans of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45

Peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region is in all parties’ interests, the ministry said, urging the US to make more efforts to maintain it, and keep its promise not to take sides in South China Sea issues.

The comments followed a top US navy admiral’s joining a seven-hour-long surveillance flight over the South China Sea over the weekend.

The US Pacific Fleet said its new fleet commander, Admiral Scott Swift, joined the surveillance mission on board a P-8A Poseidon plane Saturday.

The US did not give any specific details, including which parts of the sea it flew over, saying only that it was a routine flight to witness the full range of capabilities of the aircraft, a new multipurpose spy plane.

Fan Jishe, a US studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,told China Daily that the flights are one of the high-profile moves by the US recently to support Asian allies that have regional maritime claims that overlap those of China.

The moves are also an attempt to put pressure on China after Beijing said the country has completed land reclamation on some islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands, Fan said.

In May, Beijing described a US P-8 surveillance flight carrying a CNN team over the South China Sea as “irresponsible and dangerous”. As for the latest flight, the US Pacific Fleet released photographs of Swift on board the plane over the sea on Sunday.

Fan said these moves, part of Swift’s recent visit to the Philippines, are likely to send an incorrect message to US allies and encourage them to exaggerate the US security commitment. “This won’t help to ease the maritime tension but will aggravate problems instead,” he said.

Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin welcomed the flight with Swift, saying it showed the US commitment to come to the aid of allies that have territorial disputes with China.

Earlier this month, Manila argued its case before a UN-backed tribunal, challenging China’s claim over the sea. China has opposed any move by the Philippines to initiate and push forward the proceeding.



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  • China Lee

    Why not admit the obvious? China’s military is much stronger today than ten years ago.

    Ten years from now, China’s military (with Chengdu J-20 heavyweight and Shenyang J-31 medium-weight stealth fighters, Type 095 SSNs, Type 096 Tang-class SSBNs, Type 097 SSNs, Type 098 SSBNs, JL-3 SLBMs, Anjian/Dark Sword stealthy supersonic UCAVs, WU-14 HGVs, Type 055 Cruisers, H-20 Stealth Bombers, Chinese aircraft carriers, etc.) will be much stronger yet.

    The idea that the United States can defeat China militarily in China’s backyard (ie. South China Sea) looks increasingly like wishful thinking.

  • Usa

    Are there any ‘slow’ feaces floating in the air of South China Sea to mark Swift’s flying territory?

  • PredictionSays

    No one can prevent ww3, USA lives in high ego that it controls this planet. Very soon it will change. China will destroy the white race. The 4 human races – Facebook.com/the4humanraces

  • mata h ari

    Swift could die and the world will not care. The PS-8 could collide with an unidentified flying object, maybe a bird, a bee, a weather balloon .. who’s to know and predict?

  • warcolleger

    China Lee–What you say about the strength of China’s military is correct. But recall, orders of battle do not win wars, Strategy does.

    Bear in mind that not the United States that China is threatening directly: rather it is India, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Have I forgotten anyone? The US is a treaty ally of SK, Japan and Philippines so must assist them and also all but an ally of Taiwan.

    China is seeking control of the South Sea 南洋 in Chinese,i.e. not “south China sea” half again as big as the Mediterranean, as well as to overawe into a kind of clientship the nine countries mentioned above, one of which India is already a full nuclear power. How can China imagine such a feat of arms is possible? On so many fronts? It would be unprecedented in history.

    The answer is that in 2009-2010 China calculated that she was so powerful and awe inspiring 威 wei is a favorite concept in Chinese military classics, that the other countries would simply acquiesce. That was what strategists would call her “theory of victory.” That was her strategy. It has turned out to be wrong. As we saw in Hanoi in 2010.

    Instead of submitting, all the countries involved, the US as ally included, have begun a military buildup in the region that will soon balance any advantage China may have now–and even that is not clear. In three years China has not even managed to subdue the Philippines, weakest (except perhaps Brunei) of all targets.

    That means that with every passing minute, China is growing comparatively weaker while the nine–ten if you include the US–are growing stronger. Even a minimal conflict–say, trying to oust the Filipinos from Scarborough reef, not accomplished in two years of trying–will lead to real battle (and imagine fighting the Japanese or the Vietnamese!) which China will almost certainly lose, with casualties. This will be a humiliation for the government as they have talked themselves in their 夷言堂 literally hall in which only one voice is heard, into an unrealistic belief in their own strength and the irreversible decline of the US, in which they are deeply deeply invested psychologically, although no evidence exists.

    If conflict escalates–and conflicts do–China will be gravely damaged, losing all her impressive economic and standard of living gains of the last thirty years or so. She will be sanctioned, and as she exports manufactured goods that can come from anywhere and not natural resources, which she imports, placed in an impossible economic situation. Such a war will also do horrendous damage to other Asian countries. My own prediction is that China will be thrown into political crisis, and never to be under estimated Japan will emerge as the most competent and well-equipped regional power. Ask yourself: does China really want to go to war with India? Or Japan? That would be self-destructive madness.

    What is China’s TRUE national interest? No one–NO ONE–is going to invade China. She is safe. She has some prosperous people on the coast, millions impoverished inland. Her interests are (1) peace (2) development and a rising standard of living for all and (3) a constitutional government that the people can affect.

    China’s theory of victory or strategy of wei 威 awesomeness and through it victory without fighting, has already failed. In other words, like the Germans in autumn 1914 when they lost the battle of the Marne, key to their whole Schlieffen Plan plan, it is simply impossible for China to achieve her goals. Her wisest policy would be to walk back. But like the Germans she may decide that more weapons, more threats, even fighting–all without guiding strategy–may yet get what she wants. That is incorrect. Once such a comprehensive strategy on which all is staked fails, as did the Schlieffen plan, it cannot be saved. We may well see, however, what we call hunzhan 混戰 pointless confused bloody fighting.

    Most importantly, perhaps, China’s actions are arousing Japan, no mean power and threshold nuclear capable, as are South Korea and Taiwan. The United States, contrary to Chinese calculations, is standing with her allies. Do you imagine that Japanese military technology would not, if tested, prove superior to Chinese?

    A peaceful Japan is China’s most important regional interest yet she is pushing her to full rearmament. If China so much as touches a square inch of Japanese territory, be assured the Japanese will all support armament and fight like demons. I lost one dead, two injured in my family fighting them–defending China–in the last war. How many did you lose? This is serious business.

    So like the mighty Germans, who managed to lose two wars catastrophically in the last century, in spite of their superb militaries, China is overreaching without serious strategic consideration. The result could be catastrophe.

    The internal politics of China baffle me. The economy is not doing well, Mr Xi has pulled back on his anti corruption campaign even while speaking out against laws and constitutions. Will a losing war help him? He needs to think very hard. As do those who support whoever came up with this plan (it dates to Hu Jintao 胡錦濤)

    中國林 China Lin

  • warcolleger

    I should add that Russia’s approach is by no means clear, China takes her as an ally. But her two treasured ports Petropavlovsk Kamchatskii and Vladivostok are either near of in areas China claims. Can Russia really favor Chinese control of the Nanyang 南洋? Most emphatically not. 中国林

  • Ken5745

    Adm swift does not need to do a recce over the South China Sea to know if the Philippines have any legitimate claims in the Spratlys. All Swift needs to do is to look at the Receipt of the handover of the Philippines back to the people in 1946 when the US gave them their independence. The Receipt did not show any island in the South China Sea that was handed back to the Philippines because the US knew they are Chinese territories. All this flying around by Swift is to stir the pot for the US Military Industrial Complex.

  • silver749

    Please China don’t talk about US keeping promises. Nato and Russia is a wonderful example of two faces USA. Let people express their grievances with the UN at least.

  • Peterman

    Don’t forget that during the Chinese Civil War, the communist ragtag rebels had annihilated the US supported, armed, and trained Nationalist army which was numerically superior.

    Then before the Chinese communists had time to lay down their arms, they had to march into North Korea in Winter with their straw sandals, side arms, and a handful of rice, with no supply logistics or air support, to beat back the best army in the world. The US had mechanized and air transports, and were able to retreat faster than the advancing communist foot soldiers, who had to hide during the daytime from US airforce bombing.

    Then Communist China supported Vietnam in its fight against the US. During the early stages, many Chinese advisors and soldiers fought inside Vietnam. While the Soviet Union provided arms to Vietnam, China provided food, and most importantly, secure supply routes. The US eventually had to leave. The fact that China helped Vietnam is not even strange, as one of the most famous freedom fighters in Vietnam fighting against early French colonizers was actually Chinese – the famous Black Flag brigand General Liu Yongfu.

    There is therefore zero chance that US will want war with China. The voters of America maybe stupid and never fails to elect liars, morons, and imbeciles, but the people who benefit from the global hegemon are not stupid. They will rather achieve their objectives by other means, not by uncontrollable and unpredictable raw violence against someone they cannot beat, with the certainty that America, including these people and institutions of privilege, and the world will suffer in a such a war, not just China. Why do you think Nixon had to fly across the Pacific to visit Mao and not the other way around? And it happened at a time when China was in the middle of a devastating Cultural Revolution which decimated the senior members of the Communist Party and the senior officials of the government.

    As for those pitiful American so-called ‘allies’, they’re but client states told to bark and harass by their global hegemonic master. This is very clever and economical shadow warfare conducted by the US. They hardly need to lift a finger to get the Chinese all a flustered. The word ‘allies’ is a lie repeated so many times by our trusted free press it has become the indisputable truth. But has anyone seen Japanese and South Korean army bases in California and New York? Has any Okinawan soldier raped any Americans on American soil and walked free? Has any US presidential candidates or dissidents of America visited the president of the Philippines to receive his seal of approval? These so-called allies are not totally independent and do not have complete sovereignty. There is a certain line they simply cannot cross or they will incur the wrath of their master.

  • Bring it on, you guys can barely see well enough to shoot straight. Oh well, at least it’s easy to feed you considering you’ll eat anything that moves.

  • DavePh

    Very well put Sir, this is truly a balanced analysis. In my view you are very correct in your analysis that China has more to lose on economy front without any gains on the military field. What China thinks is, that it can bully its neighbors via show of its military might, skirmishes at the border and financial muscles.

    The fact is, no self respecting country will cave in or surrender. In WW-II even a weak country like Poland with only 190 tanks fought a Super power Germany with thousands of tanks and lost. In 1979 a weak country like Vietnam fought back and made China withdraw after inflicting heavy losses. In 1987, India forced China after over 400 casualties inflicted in Arunachal Pradesh. Of course Rent-istan countries like Pakistan can be bought, sold or appeased and rolled over with goodies to cede territory it illegally occupies. But try that with 4th biggest military nuclear power India with 1.3 million army and 5 million reservists, who can match bullet for bullet in a battle theater, and you will know what a befitting response looks like.