Wednesday, 19 January 2011

China flexes its muscles despite of talk about peaceful intentions

Chinese leaders visiting Western countries always emphasize the country´s purported peaceful intentions. This article in the Taipei Times shows that China´s recent actions tell a quite different story:

In the year just passed, China loudly, if not rudely, declared its supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region. In March, for instance, it asserted its sovereignty over the South China Sea by declaring it an area of “core national interest” on par with Tibet and Taiwan.
In this way, Beijing simply brushed aside the claims of other regional countries to islands in these waters.
Indeed, a Chinese scientific submarine planted a Chinese flag on the floor of the ocean to announce to all and sundry that it was Chinese waters.
“It [planting the flag] might provoke some countries, but we’ll be all right,” according to Zhao Junhai (趙俊海), a key designer of the submarine.
In any case, he said, “The South China Sea belongs to China. Let’s see who dares to challenge that.”
China, therefore, overrode its own commitment to resolve the sovereignty issue peacefully and through diplomacy with its neighbors. To emphasize Beijing’s seriousness, Chinese ships reportedly seized dozens of Vietnamese fishing boats and arrested their crews.
Months later, in September, China threatened Japan with reprisals when the Japanese coast guard arrested the captain of a Chinese fishing trawler after it collided with two Japanese patrol boats around the Senkaku Islands, administered by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing and Taipei as the Diaoyutai (釣魚台) Islands.
It halted exports of rare earth metals to Japan, crucial for high-end electronics products, and it demanded an apology and compensation that Tokyo refused. However, Japan caved in by releasing the Chinese captain when it had earlier announced that he would be put on trial.
The point is that through these pronouncements, China was announcing to the world that it was the new boss around the region.
China was also furious with the US-South Korean naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, regarding it as an unwarranted intrusion into what it, more or less, regards as its own waters or regional sphere of influence.
In other words, through its actions and words, China is proclaiming its own version of the Monroe Doctrine for the 21st century.

Read the entire article here.

(map by - China 1841)

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