Chinese dredgers work on the construction of artificial islands on and around Michief Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea on May 2, 2015. (NAS. Navy)Chinese dredgers work on the construction of artificial islands on and around Michief Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea on May 2, 2015. (NAS. Navy)

BEIJING—China’s air force said Saturday that it has conducted a combat air patrol over disputed areas of the South China Sea to improve its fighting ability.

The announcement comes after Beijing said it wanted to tamp down tensions following its strong rejection of an international tribunal that ruled that its claim to virtually all of the South China Sea has no legal basis.

China refused to take part in the case taken by the Philippines to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and continues to assert that islands in the South China Sea are its territory.

The air force didn’t say when the exercises took place. W zeszłym miesiącu, after the July 12 ruling, the air force said that it had conducted patrols over the South China Sea and would make it “a regular practice.”

Air force spokesman Senior Col. Shen Jinke said in an online statement that the patrol was “to enhance combat capabilities to deal with various security threats” and to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

Shen said bomber and fighter aircraft, early warning aircraft, reconnaissance planes and planes that can refuel in flight patrolled the airspace around the Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal and surrounding areas.

The Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are claimed by both China and the Philippines. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the Spratlys.

Zeszły tydzień, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the U.S., Japan and Australia were “fanning the flames” of regional tensions after they released a joint statement urging China not to construct military outposts or reclaim land in disputed waters.

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that “China stands ready to continue its efforts to peacefully resolve relevant disputes in the South China Sea.”

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A Vietnamese coast guard ship moves toward a Chinese coast guard vessel near China's oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea on May 14, 2014. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)A Vietnamese coast guard ship moves toward a Chinese coast guard vessel near China's oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea on May 14, 2014. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIJING—China’s ambitions to become a pioneer in nuclear energy are sailing into troubled waters.

Two state-owned companies plan to develop floating nuclear reactors, a technology engineers have been considering since the 1970s for use by oil rigs or island communities. Beijing is racing Russia, which started developing its own in 2007, to get a unit into commercial operation.

In China’s case, the achievement would be tempered by concern its reactors might be sent into harm’s way to support oil exploration in the South China Sea, where Beijing faces conflicting territorial claims by neighbors including Vietnam and the Philippines. Chinese news reports say plans call for deploying 20 reactors there, though neither developer has mentioned the area.

Tensions ratcheted up after a U.N. arbitration panel ruled July 12 that Beijing’s claim to most of the sea has no legal basis. Beijing rejected the decision in a case brought by the Philippines and announced it would hold war games in the area, where its military has built artificial islands.

The floating reactor plans reflect Beijing’s determination to create profitable technologies in fields from energy to mobile phones and to curb growing reliance on imported oil and gas, which communist leaders see as a security risk.

China is the most active builder of nuclear power plants, with 32 reactors in operation, 22 under construction and more planned. It relies heavily on U.S., French and Russian technology but is developing its own.

The latest initiatives are led by China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corp. Both have research or consulting agreements with Westinghouse Electric Co. and France’s EDF and Areva, but say their floating plants will use homegrown technology.

“They are keen to develop that because they have a lot of oil drilling everywhere in the South China Sea and overseas as well,” said Luk Bing-lam, an engineering professor at the City University of Hong Kong who has worked with a CGN subsidiary on unrelated projects.

“The Chinese strategy is to ensure the energy supply for the country,” said Luk. “Oil drilling needs energy, and with that supply, they could speed up operations.”

A China's oil rig operated in the East China Sea on Feb. 9, 2012. Two state-owned companies, China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corp., have announced plans to develop floating nuclear reactors for use by oil rigs or island communities. If they succeed, the achievement would raise concern the reactors might be sent into harm's way to support oil exploration in the South China Sea, where Beijing faces conflicting territorial claims by neighbors including Vietnam and the Philippines. (Kyodo News via AP)

A China’s oil rig operated in the East China Sea on Feb. 9, 2012. (Kyodo News via AP)

Russia’s first floating commercial reactor, the Academician Lomonosov, is due to be delivered in 2018, but the project has suffered repeated delays. The Russians have yet to announce a commercial customer.

Russia has been “aiming to launch this idea for over two decades by pitching the reactor as a plug-and-play option for fairly remote communities,” said Mark Hibbs, an expert on nuclear policy for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in an email.

Russia’s target market was Indonesia and its far-flung islands, Hibbs said. That prompted concern about control over nuclear materials, leading to a recommendation Russia operate the reactor and take back used fuel.

The Chinese nuclear agency signed a deal with Moscow in 2014 to build floating power stations using Russian technology. It is unclear whether that will go ahead given the plans by CNG and CNNC to develop their own vessels.

Chinese developers can count on sales to the state-owned oil industry without going abroad.

CGN has signed a contract with China National Offshore Oil Corp. to support oil and gas exploration at sea. The company says it will launch its first vessel by 2020, with plans for 20 more. It declined an interview request and did not respond to written questions.

CNNC plans a demonstration unit by 2019.

A floating nuclear plant probably would be too costly just to supply power but could be useful in oil and gas exploration by also providing heat and fresh water, Luk said. He said CGN engineers told him their design is meant for islands or other remote sites.

Tensions with Vietnam have flared over Chinese oil and gas exploration near the Vietnamese coast. W styczniu, Vietnam complained a Chinese oil company had towed a drilling rig into disputed waters. W 2014, the same rig was parked off Vietnam’s central coast for two months, leading to violent anti-Chinese demonstrations and confrontations at sea as Chinese vessels rammed Vietnamese boats to prevent them from approaching the rig.

Reactors have been used on warships since the 1950s. But those vessels regularly visit port for maintenance and face little security risk because they are heavily armed.

“The security concerns are clear: such reactors would be tempting targets for military or terrorist attacks,” Edwin Lyman, a nuclear specialist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, said in an email. “Maintaining the full contingent of security officers necessary to effectively deter attack would not be feasible.”

Other perils include stormy seas — the South China Sea is buffeted by powerful seasonal typhoons — and the need to exchange radioactive fuel at distant sites.

CGN says its seaborne unit will have “passive safety,” or features that function without moving parts or outside power, such as control rods that drop by gravity in an emergency. No commercial reactor operates with such features.

“There are questions about how reliable passive safety systems will be in extreme conditions,” Lyman said.

CGN wants to simplify operations by requiring refueling only once every three years instead of the industry standard of 18 miesiące, Luk said. That would require more highly enriched fuel, with the amount of the U-235 isotope raised to as much as 10 percent from the typical 4.5 procent.

“If it were seized by terrorists or someone else, that would be a big problem," powiedział.

China’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear technology has run afoul of U.S. law enforcement.

W kwietniu, a Chinese-born American engineer employed by CGN was charged with recruiting experts in the United States to help the company with reactor construction without applying for required government permission. Allen Ho, also known as Szuhsiung Ho, also was charged in federal court in Tennessee with acting illegally as an agent of a foreign government.

Under a 2007 agreement, Westinghouse transferred to another government company, the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., technology for its latest model, the AP1000. It was to become the basis for future Chinese reactors that could be sold abroad, but CGN and CNNC pressed ahead with development of their own models.

CGN says its 60-megawatt floating reactor, the ACPR50, is a version of the land-based ACPR100 reactor. CNNC says its seaborne unit will be based on another reactor, the ACP100, but has released no other details.

Westinghouse has no role in the ACPR50’s development, according to a company spokeswoman, Courtney Boone. EDF and Areva did not respond to requests for information about their possible role.

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Chinese dredgers work on the construction of artificial islands on and around Michief Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea on May 2. Stany Zjednoczone. Navy recently sent a warship to patrol near the Chinese regime’s man-made islands. (NAS. Navy)Chinese dredgers work on the construction of artificial islands on and around Michief Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea on May 2. Stany Zjednoczone. Navy recently sent a warship to patrol near the Chinese regime’s man-made islands. (NAS. Navy)

The foundation of the Chinese regime’s legal case and strategy for exploiting the South China Sea rested on a supposed historical ownership—and on July 12, an arbitration court in The Hague declared that this foundation is false.

Komunistyczna Partia Chin (CCP) quickly shot back. A statement from its Foreign Ministry says it views the Tribunal’s decision as “null and void and has no binding force,” and says it “neither accepts nor recognizes it.”

In spite of the bluster issuing from Beijing, the CCP has lost its main line for propaganda and its best chance to establish a moral ground for its position on the South China Sea.

Jeszcze, according to Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, “it’s important to recognize this issue isn’t over.”

A Battle of Deception

One of the main strategies the CCP has employed in the South China Sea is what it calls the “Three Warfares;” which are legal warfare, psychological warfare, and media warfare.

The strategy works by manufacturing “legal” arguments, creating psychological pressure on adversaries, and manipulating news coverage. The Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon think tank, described the strategy in a May 2013 report as a “war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means,” and that uses deception as a way to “alter the strategic environment in a way that renders kinetic engagement irrational.”

Cheng said the CCP’s use of legal warfare “was not really a matter of what other legal authorities say.” He noted that already there are Chinese law professors and others trying to discredit the Tribunal, and saying it has been tainted or has no authority.

At its heart, the CCP’s Three Warfares is a strategy for disinformation—a form of propaganda that functions by manufacturing a lie with a grain of truth, then using this lie as a foundation to make seemingly legitimate arguments. A key goal of disinformation is to get coverage in otherwise credible news outlets and think tanks, which can then be used to make additional arguments.

In the South China Sea, this strategy has manifested in the CCP’s claims that it has historical ownership over nearly the entire region; which gives it the right to manufacture islands, declare defensive perimeters around its artificial islands, and to chase ships from other nations out of the region.

The Road Ahead

The Tribunal’s website went offline shortly after the announcement, but an archive of its press release is still available.

According to the press release, the CCP boycotted the Tribunal, but even in China’s absence, the Tribunal took steps to “test the accuracy of the Philippines’ claims,” it states. This included questioning the Philippines, appointing independent experts to “report to the Tribunal on technical matters,” and “obtaining historical evidence concerning features in the South China Sea and providing it to the Parties for comment.”

In the end, the Tribunal overwhelmingly found the CCP’s claims to be false. It said in the press release it “found that China’s claim to historic rights to resources was incompatible with the detailed allocation of rights and maritime zones” in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and that any historic rights the CCP had to resources in the South China Sea were “extinguished by the entry into force of the Convention to the extent they were incompatible with the Convention’s system of maritime zones.”

The claims of various nations in the South China Sea. (VOA)

The claims of various nations in the South China Sea. (VOA)

Regardless of the decision, jednak, the CCP has repeatedly stated it would “neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines,” according to the press release.

According to Cheng, the Chinese regime did not attend the hearings for the simple reason that “they knew their case was not going to stand up to current tenets of international law.”
But according to Cheng, “the Chinese were not going to make any concessions in the South China Sea before this, and they’re not going to now.”

He added that “there weren’t many countries that believed the Chinese position to begin with.”

Moving forward, it’s likely the CCP will make a new propaganda push to discredit the Tribunal, and it may try to manufacture a new disinformation line to base its claims on. It’s also likely the CCP will make a stronger push either with military strength or by starting more civilian ventures in the South China Sea.

The CCP has four masks it can wear in the South China Sea conflict: one for military intimidation, one for peaceful civilian ventures, one for financial gain, and another for strategic deception.

The ruling has put a dent in the CCP’s mask for strategic deception, but its other fronts remain largely unscathed.

“I think the Chinese are going to play the tourist card,” Cheng said, noting that already it has done tourist flights to the South China Sea. He said the CCP will also likely make new pushes with military power and may look for an economic component as well in order to justify its unlawful ventures in the region.

He noted that the CCP may also try a diplomatic approach, and build its own alliance, which could include Laos, Cambodia, and Brunei. He said it may offer these countries an agreement “to say, work with us you get something, oppose us you’ll get nothing.”

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News Analysis

When it comes to the hotly-disputed waters of the South China Sea, Beijing has never been one to make any concessions on its claims—supposedly based on historical right—to nearly the entire sea fed by the trade chokepoint at the Strait of Malacca.

And faced with mounting international opposition, China seems desperate to generate a veneer of support to cake legitimacy on its claims.

In an ongoing international legal arbitration, Filipino authorities and legal experts have argued repeatedly that the Chinese claims are no older than 2009, when the communist regime pushed out an oft-referenced “nine dash line” that infringes on the existing holdings or claims of no less than six Southeast Asian countries.

The arbitration is being handled in The Hague and is expected to produce a verdict in Manila’s favor in the upcoming ruling on July 12.

China has vowed to ignore The Hague’s ruling, but there are indications that the arbitration comes as a dangerously solid challenge to its fabricated narrative.

The consolidation of opposition to Chinese expansion seems to have kicked the communist propaganda machine and China’s diplomatic efforts into overdrive. Chinese state-run mouthpieces have already dismissed the proceedings as a “farce,” and pushed to rally support across borders.

An island that China is building on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. The Chinese regime is now deploying “anti-access” weapons in the region. (Cliff Owen/AP)

A search in the opinion section of the English-language edition of China Military Online, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) official news publication of for “South China Sea” returns nearly 40 results out of the 80 articles on the first page of stories. Of these, 10 articles appear with “arbitration” in their headlines, the earliest of which calls the legal action a “unilateral” and “unlawful” move by Manila.

The intense media campaign appears to be part of a larger group of operations China is carrying out to sway perceptions in its favor.

Disinformation is a long-standing strategy used by communist regimes to sway or divert opinion at home and abroad. In communist Chinese doctrine, this is known as the “Three Warfares”—media warfare, legal warfare, and psychological warfare. It is used to disorient and divide adversaries through various forms of subversion.

Disinformation Deflated?

At a June 23 meeting in Tashkent, multiple member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is an economic bloc led primarily by China and Russia, expressed support for China in the South China Sea.

But a closer look at the public relations game Beijing is playing suggests a pitiful facade rather than a potent bloc. In light of the Southeast Asian and American partnership that is being put together around the Chinese threat, with the successful arbitration furthering cementing the coalition, China’s disinformation appears to fall flat.

Katsuji Nakazawa, of the Japanese financial paper Nikkei, described the flimsy or ad-hoc collection of nations purported to side with China on the South China Sea dispute. The majority of China’s supporters are faraway African countries or Central Asian states with little stake or influence in Southeast Asian waters—and even then, explicit endorsements are few.

“Those who have actually been shown making favorable comments about China are limited to officials of political parties in countries that have no direct interests in the South China Sea,” Nakazawa writes in a lipiec 1 article.

It is the support of Russia that Beijing appears to covet most. At the end of June, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping twice in quick succession—once at the Tashkent summit, and again on June 25 w Pekinie, reportedly at “strong request” from the Chinese side.

While neither Putin nor the Russian government has backed China openly, Nakazawa says Beijing wants to use the meetings to create an impression of agreement between the world’s largest countries by size and population.

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Chinese navy sailors search for targets onboard the missile destroyer Hefei during a military exercise in the waters near south China's Hainan Island and Paracel Islands on July 8, 2016. (Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)Chinese navy sailors search for targets onboard the missile destroyer Hefei during a military exercise in the waters near south China's Hainan Island and Paracel Islands on July 8, 2016. (Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING—Chinese warships, fighter jets and submarines held live-fire war games in the South China Sea, state media reported Saturday, just days ahead of an international tribunal’s ruling on a challenge to Beijing’s expansive claims in the waters.

The high-profile display of naval hardware is China’s latest salvo in a propaganda offensive aimed at demonstrating its military might and asserting its sovereignty over the disputed region.

Though China has said the exercises are routine, they come ahead of a Hague-based tribunal’s ruling Tuesday in a case brought by the Philippines contesting China’s claims in the South China Sea. China is boycotting the case and says it will not accept the verdict.

China Central Television showed video of Friday’s drills, conducted by three fleets of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The footage showed missiles and torpedoes being launched from ships, jets flying in formation and releasing flares, and submarines surfacing in the water.

The drills are aimed at testing the navy’s battle-readiness and are scheduled to run till Monday, CCTV said.

Chinese missile frigate Yuncheng launches an anti-ship missile during a military exercise in the waters near south China's Hainan Island and Paracel Islands on July 8, 2016. (Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)

Chinese missile frigate Yuncheng launches an anti-ship missile during a military exercise in the waters near south China’s Hainan Island and Paracel Islands on July 8, 2016. (Zha Chunming/Xinhua via AP)

Zhao Yanquan, a commander of a guided missile destroyer, said the scenario tested the troops’ ability to locate enemy submarines, where enemy warships are attacking from and when enemy jets are taking off.

“We gather the information, analyze it and make decisions upon it. For us, it is a real war situation and therefore a test to that effect,” Zhao said.

Earlier in the week, Vietnam protested the Chinese military drill and has demanded that Beijing stop acting in a way that threatens security and maritime safety.

Vietnam, China and Taiwan all claim the Paracel islands, which are occupied by China, and those three along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim all or parts of the Spratly islands, which are believed to be rich in natural resources and occupy one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

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A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014. (Jay DirectoJ/AFP/Getty Images)A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014. (Jay DirectoJ/AFP/Getty Images)

W październiku 2015, the Philippines filed a pending arbitration case against China through the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, arguing that the Chinese regime’s claims to the South China Sea violate international law.

As a decision on the South China Sea looms in international court, the Chinese regime has done all it can to avoid the case—from stating it will not participate, to making threats against the Philippines, to rallying African nations so as to claim a base of support.

Yet with the ruling now just around the corner, the Chinese regime is pulling one last card out of its sleeve.

As Mark Eadas writes on Foreign Policy Association, Chinese state media and the South China Morning Post (which has been brought more deeply under Party control), announced a new “legal challenge” and “fresh uncertainty” on the case, submitted by a legal organization called the Asia-Pacific Institute of International Law (APIIL) W Hong Kongu.

The APIIL submitted a “friend of the court” brief that avoids the issue of whether the Chinese regime has legal rights throughout the South China Sea, and instead claims the court itself lacks jurisdiction for a ruling. Eadas notes the brief hasn’t yet been made public, so its full details aren’t clear.

The claim itself may be interesting for anyone watching the South China Sea dispute, given that it suggests the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doesn’t seem to believe its claims of “historical sovereignty” will hold up.

But what’s really interesting about the new development isn’t the claims themselves, but instead what’s really behind the organizations making the claims.

As Eadas notes, the Chinese state media left out an important detail on the APIIL. As he puts it, the organization “hardly exists,” as it was only registered as a business two months ago in Hong Kong, and “no website or public contact information, no prior history of legal practice, and no names associated with it other than ‘chairman’ Daniel Fung.”

Before we go any further, Fung claims objectivity on the South China Sea dispute. He told the state-run Xinhua news outlet he only wants to “maintain the perfection of the international law system.” He just doesn’t want to see “the international law system being jeopardized or its reputation being damaged.”

But as Eadas notes, Fung’s allegiances already lie elsewhere. He has a long track record of supporting the CCP’s stances going back to at least 1997; and Chinese state media also missed the crucial detail that Fung is a delegate of the CCP’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) w Pekinie. W 2010 he was found guilty in Hong Kong for professional misconduct.

Paramilitary guards walk in Tiananmen Square outside the Great Hall of the People during a press conference of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 2, 2013. The CPPCC is under the United Front Department, which is one of the Chinese regime's key spy departments. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Paramilitary guards walk in Tiananmen Square outside the Great Hall of the People during a press conference of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 2, 2013. The CPPCC is under the United Front Department, which is one of the Chinese regime’s key spy departments. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Fung’s position with the CPPCC also opens its own can of worms. According to an October 2011 report from the Europe China Research and Advice Network, the CPPCC’s members “are not elected but hand-picked by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The report also notes that the CPPCC is directly operated by the CCP’s United Front Department, which is one of the Chinese regime’s main spy organizations and focuses specifically on infiltrating power structures abroad to expand the CCP’s control of foreign politics, business, and public thought.

Epoch Times has deeply exposed the United Front Department over the years, along with its sister spy department, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.

And the strings that pull Fung don’t end there. Eadas writes that Fung is also a founding governor of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which poses as a non-political and non-governmental organization. Jeszcze, Eadas cites former deputy assistant to the vice-president of the United States for national security affairs Aaron Friedberg stating that it has ties to the CCP and to the Chinese military.

As opposed to its claims to be “non-political” and “non-governmental,” Friedberg states the CUSEF “is supported and advised by government-linked entities including the Shanghai Institute for International Studies and the [Ludowa Armia Wyzwolenia] Academy of Military Science.” Friedberg also notes the CUSEF is “is funded by Hong Kong tycoons and [chiński] state-owned enterprises .”

Eadas sums up the CCP’s new “legal challenge” noting it is “evidently nothing but a cheap trick to delay the court ruling with a fake ‘legal organization’ thrown together by a pro-Beijing shyster lawyer solely for that purpose.”

And the case also shows a level of fear and doubt among the Chinese regime’s leaders, facing a pending case that will officially expose the falsehood of their claims to the South China Sea and give international backing to nations that oppose them.

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The Chinese regime may soon deploy submarines armed with nuclear missiles for patrols in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Guardian. It appears the Guardian’s story is based more on analysis and not from a direct announcement by the Chinese military, but the analysis does hold its ground.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on when they will start the first patrols of their nuclear-armed submarines, but the report says they “insist the move is inevitable.” The Guardian also cites a May 18 analysis by the Federation of American Scientists on a report from the U.S. Department of Defense about China’s nuclear forces.
“China will probably conduct its first SSBN [ballistic missile submarine] nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016,” the report says, and the analysis notes China has deployed submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons in the past, but it was unclear on whether or not they were armed.
It says all four of China’s operational Jin-class SSBNs are in its Longpo (Yulin) Submarine Base on Hainan Island. It says China also has two Shang-class nuclear submarines at the base, and is constructing a fifth Jin-class submarine as well.
Read MoreChina Goes on Spree of Strengthening Military Alliances After Vietnam Shifts West
Any deployment of the submarines would inevitably have them pass through the South China Sea (where Hainan Island is located).
If China deployment of nuclear weapons in the South China Sea, it would very likely inflame the already volatile tensions in the region. The Chinese regime claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has enraged many neighboring countries by building artificial islands with military bases, and used its military to chase off foreign ships.

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Komunistyczna Partia Chin (CCP) made a stream of announcements on May 24 i 25 that it is deepening its military ties with several nearby countries, including Russia, Tajlandia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Malaysia.
At any other time, it would just appear the CCP had gone through a brief spat of highly-successful diplomacy. But in this case, the timing is important. All these agreements come just one to two days after President Barack Obama met with Vietnamese leader Tran Dai Quang on May 23 and officially ended the U.S. arms embargo on Vietnam.
W maju 25, the CCP joined the “China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting” in Laos, and on May 24 it held the “18th round of strategic consultation between Chinese and Russian militaries,” according to China Military Online.
Chinese state-run news reports said on May 25 that Myanmar vowed to deepen military cooperation with China, Thailand vowed to improve its military relations with China, and Malaysia announced that it would strengthen its naval cooperation with China.
During the May 24 meetings in Beijing, Russia and China held discussions on military strategy and cooperation. The meeting was between Jianguo, Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission; and Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and Chief of the Main Operative Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
Read MoreChina’s Response to Vietnam Arms Embargo Reveals Regime’s Own Ambitions
China and Malaysia also held another set of meetings on May 24, where they agreed to cooperate more on defense. According to Xinhua, the meeting was between Vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang, and Malaysian Navy chief Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Haji Ahmad Badaruddin.
And to top it off, w maju 23, the same day Obama made his announcement alongside Quang, the Chinese and Thai militaries fired anti-aircraft missiles during a training in Thailand. China Military Online waited two days to post the announcement, and noted the drill between the two was the first of its kind.
This is likely the CCP’s way of telling the coalition that has formed against its aggression in the South China Sea that it also has a coalition of nations behind it.

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W maju 24, the United States made a diplomatic move in the Asia–Pacific region that strengthens the growing coalition against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), deepens U.S. influence in the region, and expands the number of nations around China that are shifting away from pacifism and inaction.
The CCP’s response was to welcome the move, and declare it a healthy development for the world.
If that response seems uncharacteristic of the CCP, you’re right, but only because its interests rest much deeper.
The move in discussion is President Barack Obama’s lifting of the decades-old arms embargo on Vietnam. He met with Vietnamese leader Tran Dai Quang and declared, according to The Associated Press, “This change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself and removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War.”
W odpowiedzi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to a transcript, that China is “happy to see Vietnam develop normal relations with all countries, including the U.S.”
With the CCP, all of its responses—whether through its Foreign Ministry spokesperson or its state-run news outlets—are going to be tightly regulated, and with something on this scale, also tightly calculated.
What’s interesting about this development is that the CCP seems to have assessed that it’s more in its interest to feign support for the development than to criticize it. And its likely interest is the potential that this could act as a springboard for it to begin lobbying the United States and the European Union to lift similar arms embargoes on China—which were set in place after its Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
Vietnam’s poor human rights record has been one of the deal’s main points of criticism, and the fact that Obama went ahead with the deal despite this likely has some Chinese leaders rubbing their hands together.
Read MoreNew Orders Tighten China’s Grip on Military Hackers
The Chinese regime pushes an ideology in its form of diplomacy that human rights shouldn’t get in the way of politics. This policy has enabled it to forge alliances with some of the world’s most despotic regimes, and to build its own bloc of influence with countries the United States and European Union refuse to deal with.
This factor has brought strong criticism onto the CCP, since its support of countries like North Korea allows totalitarian regimes to sustain themselves when they would otherwise very likely collapse.
Of course, Vietnam isn’t as bad as North Korea, but it is run by a communist one-party government, and it also has some of the same human rights abuses as other communist states. According to a freedom ranking of countries by Freedom House, Vietnam scored 20 poza 100 with being the least free. It notes that Vietnam has almost no political freedom and few civil liberties.
What’s interesting about China’s response to the new deal is that its propaganda thinkers have apparently assessed that the benefit of a muted response outweighs the benefit of criticism—particularly since this will likely shift the tides further against its favor in the Asia–Pacific region.
The deal itself is more symbolic than anything. Its main impact will likely be much less on Vietnam’s military strength and much more on how Vietnam is perceived globally.
Vietnam was already buying military vehicles and equipment from Russia, and the shift in U.S. stance is unlikely to make Vietnam much more of a military threat to China than it already is. Vietnam has more military personnel than the United States, with close to half a million in active service and a reserve force of three million.
Read MoreFaced With Barrage of Chinese Spies, US Expands Rules for National Security Cases
But if recent history tells us anything, the CCP does view this new deal as a threat and is holding its tongue. When the United States began lifting its arms embargo on Vietnam in 2014, the CCP’s state-run People’s Daily criticized the deal and accused the United States of interfering with the “balance of power in the region.”
The “balance of power in the region” is what this new deal will likely impact most. What it changes is how the United States views Vietnam, and it may help Vietnamese diplomacy with other nations as well. As Japan Times reported, it will reduce the “political sensitivity” that nations would otherwise face when strengthening ties with Vietnam.

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China is working on an underwater surveillance system that may thwart U.S. maritime advantage in the Asia-Pacific region.
The “Underwater Great Wall Project,” as it is called, proposes a network of ships and underwater sensors capable of “real-time location, tracing of surface and underwater targets,” according to the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
The company shared details about the project at its booth at a late-2015 public exhibition in China. Translation of the description was obtained by IHS Jane’sa British publisher specializing in defense, security, aerospace, and transportation intelligence.
The network “could significantly erode the undersea warfare advantage held by U.S. and Russian submarines and contribute greatly to future Chinese ability to control the South China Sea,” IHS Jane’s wrote in a May 17 article.
China is muscling its way into the South China Sea, claiming vast territory already claimed by other neighboring countries that rely on the United States for military protection. Particularly disconcerting was China’s recent move to build advanced military facilities on a man-made island it has created in the Spratly Islands region between Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Read MoreChina Deploys Fighter Jets to Chase US Destroyer in South China Sea
The underwater surveillance project resembles the sound surveillance system (SOSUS) the United States deployed in the 1950s to detect Soviet submarines.
The Chinese plan has been described in greater detail in a late 2015 article by China Ocean News, a publication sponsored by the China’s State Oceanic Administration.
Od 2010, China invested at least 290 mln juanów (koniec $44 milion) into underwater surveillance systems at its southern shore bordering the South China Sea.
But the initiatives have suffered lack of coordinationduplication, and waste of resources, among other problems, the article states.
It calls for a “top-level designof a project that won’t be limited to the waters in China’s jurisdiction, but should also take into account offshore and deep sea areas, remote islands, and channels and “lay the foundation for future expansion.
“It is emphatically stated, moreover, that China’s ambitions for its undersea observation system cannot be restricted to its coastal waters, but rather may be appropriate to deploy into all ocean areas touching Chinese national interests,” wrote Lyle J. Goldstein, associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, in his analysis of the article.
Read MoreChina Lands Military Plane in South China Sea

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The Chinese regime allegedly sent two fighter jets to intercept a U.S. military plane in international airspace in the South China Sea.
A brief Pentagon statement announcing the incident was posted on Twitter by Dan Linden of ABC News. The Department of Defense (DoD) did not immediately respond to a phone call and email to confirm the claims.
It states the DoD is reviewing the incident, which took place on May 17. Two “tactical aircraftwere sent by the Chinese regime to intercept a U.S. maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft.
Read MoreNew Orders Tighten China’s Grip on Military Hackers
The incident took place in international airspace, it states, “during a routine patrol of the South China Sea.It notes that “initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe.
Many details are still unclearparticularly the exact location of the incident.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar incident a week ago, w maju 10. The Chinese regime scrambled two fighter jets and three warships, and had them chase the USS William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer, near the Fiery Cross Reef.
Read MoreChina Deploys Fighter Jets to Chase US Destroyer in South China Sea
The Fiery Cross Reef is part of the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea, and it’s about 500 miles south of the Chinese mainland. It’s internationally recognized as being in international waters, but the Chinese regime has claimed the reef where it constructed an island and a military basecomplete with a nearly 10,000-foot airstrip.

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The Chinese regime scrambled fighter jets on May 10 to chase a U.S. Navy ship in a region of the south China Sea about 500 miles south of the Chinese mainland.
The United States is continuing its “freedom of navigationexercises in the region, which several different countries claim parts of, and which China claims in its entirety.
The USS William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer, passed within 12-nautical miles of the Fiery Cross Reef, which is in the Spratly Island chain. According to Reuters, the Chinese regime responded by scrambling two fighter jets and three warships, which shadowed the U.S. ship and told it to leave.
China converted the reef into an artificial island in a highly controversial move in 2014, and satellite imagery in Sept. 2015 showed the Chinese regime had started building advanced military facilities on the man-made island, including sophisticated radar.
According to The Diplomat, the Chinese regime had also constructed a runway on the artificial island close to 10,000 feet long. On Jan. 2, it conducted its first landing on the newly-built airstrip.
This isn’t the first time the Chinese regime has scrambled jets to chase foreign ships or aircraft in the contested region. W 2013, soon after China created a largely unrecognized air defense zone in the disputed East China Sea, it began scrambling jets to chase U.S. and Japanese planes passing through the region.
MORE:Faced With Barrage of Chinese Spies, US Expands Rules for National Security Cases
This may, jednak, be the first time the Chinese regime has scrambled jets to chase foreign ships in a region this far south of the Chinese mainland.
The Chinese regime only recently began deploying jets in the South China Sea. W lutym, it began deploying jets on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain closer to Vietnam and Hainan.
The jets it used in the recent incursion, jednak, were likely the two J-11 fighter jets it deployed in early April to Woody Island.

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This news analysis was originally dispatched as part of Epoch Times China email newsletters. Subscribe to the newsletters by filling your email in the “China D-briefbox under this article.
Argentina’s coast guard encountered a Chinese trawler illegally fishing in its territorial waters in mid-March. The Chinese poachers ignored radio calls and repeated warning fire, and tried ramming the Argentinian ship.
Finally, the Argentinean coast guard did what few nations dare. According to New York Post, they fired shots at the boat’s hull. They rescued four of the crew members from the sinking ship, while the rest of the 28-member crew was picked up by another nearby Chinese fishing boat.
The Chinese regime has expressed outrage at the incident, but Argentina didn’t back down, and by doing so, it may set a precedent that other nations can turn to when facing Chinese belligerence in maritime disputes.
Indonesia soon followed with a hard-line approach to Chinese aggression. Indonesian authorities arrested a Chinese fisherman on March 19 in the Natuna Sea, near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, and had the Chinese fishing boat in tow.
A Chinese coast guard ship then rammed the fishing boat in tow, freeing it from the Indonesian ship, according to The Jakarta Post.
It’s not unusual for Indonesian authorities to arrest foreign fishermen for poaching in its waters, but the Chinese coast guard interfering with an arrest pushed them over the line.
Indonesian authorities brushed off Chinese accusations over the incident, and on March 21 the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti announced her office would summon the Chinese ambassador to Indonesia and demand an explanation.
The Chinese regime may have inadvertently drawn Indonesia into the South China Sea conflict, which they had little interest in prior to the incidentand their response was swift.
W marcu 31, the Indonesia defense minister said they would deploy U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets on the Natuna Islandsclose to where the incursion with the Chinese coast guard took place, according to Bloomberg, to war off what he called “thieves.
A few days later, Indonesia announced it would deploy air defense systems to the Natuna Islands, along with four special units to man the German-made Oerlikon Skyshield air defense system, according to IHS Jane’s.
Then on April 5, in a show of symbolic force, Indonesia destroyed 23 foreign ships caught poachingsomething that’s also not uncommon for them, but the timing attracted attention. Its fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, powiedziany, according to The Diplomat, “I am impressed and laud China’s law enforcement apparatus. I hope they would also respect Indonesia’s laws.
Vietnam’s ‘RareResponse
After the initial incident between China and Indonesia, Vietnam also joined in.
W marcu 31, Vietnam’s coast guard seized a Chinese refueling ship for illegally entering its territorial waters.
As Nikkei reported on April 3, the incident was “a rare move for Vietnamese authorities against a Chinese vessel.The Chinese ship’s captain allegedly admitted his intrusion, and said his ship was carrying fuel for Chinese fishing boats operating in Vietnamese territory.
While it can’t be said for sure that one incident inspired the others, the timing lines up, and the incident with Vietnam, in particular, showed a new level of boldness while standing up against China’s incursions.
Zero Hedge noted that Vietnam seizing the Chinese ship was the “biggest territorial escalation between the two countries since 2014 when China towed an oil rig to disputed waters in the South China Sea in 2014, triggering dangerous boat ramming and anti-China riots in Vietnam.
If a new zero tolerance approach really has developed among countries fighting back against China, it may bring an effective end to the current Chinese strategy for seizing territory in the South China Sea.
A Hole in China’s Strategy
Komunistyczna Partia Chin (CCP) has two strategies for taking over the South China Seaone designed around propaganda, and the other around military maneuvers.
On the propaganda side, the CCP us using what it calls the “Three Warfares.These are legal warfare, psychological warfare, and media warfare. It basically means they accuse others of aggression and continue to repeat lines that they have legal rights to conquer the region.
Dean Cheng of The Heritage Foundation explained the tactic in a May 21, 2012, raport. Regarding the legal warfare element, he writes, “Legal warfare, at its most basic, involves ‘arguing that one’s own side is obeying the law, criticizing the other side for violating the law [weifa], and making arguments for one’s own side in cases where there are also violations of the law.
On the military side, the CCP is using what Chinese generals have call the “cabbage strategy,” where they rap the area up layer-by-layer. It’s similar in practice to the old Soviet “salami-slicing strategy.
As part of the strategy, first the CCP sends in fishing boats, then buoys marking fishing territory, then coast guard ships to protect the fishing boats, then infrastructure to support the operations, and then they form a defensive perimeter to keep out foreign ships.
The strategy is designed to play out gradually, while appearing as benign as possible. It’s similar to the frog in boiling water analogy, where the water heats too gradually for the frog to noticeuntil it’s too late.
These strategies work well against countries that closely adhere to international laws and avoid drastic actions, but both have key flaws built into them.
The CCP’s propaganda tactic protects and tries to validate its maritime strategy. If the propaganda systems fails, then the maritime side loses its mask of legitimacy, and just looks like one country invading another’s territory.
MORE:CHINY SECURITY: Under Veil of Cybersecurity, China Looks to Govern the Global Internet
China’s propaganda systems can usually keep up, but they’ve only worked effectively when there are only a few incidents to respond to, and when its adversaries don’t react too aggressively or don’t fire back too hard against its propaganda.
The real irony with the CCP’s attempted takeover of the South China Sea is that it inadvertently caused other nations in the regioneven many that historically haven’t gotten alongto form an alliance against China.
The recent incidents have raised the bar to a level where China’s strategies may not be able to hold up. Its

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New images suggest the Chinese regime has deployed anti-ship cruise missiles on Woody Island, in its latest move to weaponize disputed territory in the South China Sea.
An image of a YJ-62 anti-ship missiles being fired on what appears to be Woody Island was posted on China’s Weibo blog on March 20. The missile has a 248-mile range, and is designed to sink modern warships.
Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Centerexplained the validity of the image in a report from intelligence company IHS Jane’s.
Fisher said the image of the missile is consistent with photos of the YJ-62 published in Chinese military magazines. He also notes the image “shows a radar dome that the Chinese blogger makes a strong case for being on Woody Island.
The development would be consistent with recent Chinese news reports. A report from the South China Morning Post said the Chinese regime may deploy anti-ship missiles and other advanced weapons to islands in the South China Sea.
The Chinese news outlets cited Li Jie, senior researcher at the Chinese regime’s People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, making the claims.
MORE:China Security: China’s Strategy to Bar Other Nations From Disputed Waters Is Nearly CompleteChina Starts Building Military Base in North Africa
China has been in the process of weaponizing the islandssome of which it seized, and some of which it constructed itself.
The Chinese regime recently deployed jets, radar, and anti-air missiles on the islands. Reports also suggest it is building a helicopter base for anti-submarine warfare.
By weaponizing the islands, the Chinese regime is moving closer to what defense analysts have been warning about for years. They say China is trying to establish an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy to gain military control over the region.

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China may have just shot itself in the foot with its efforts to seize new territory. Its recent actions may draw India into the conflict, which could act as an essential piece to sway the situation against China’s interests.
Chinese troops have reportedly been seen at forward outposts along the Line of Control, along Pakistani side of Kashmirand this has sounded alarms in India.
Strategically, the timing couldn’t have been worse. This happened right as India’s leaders are considering whether to join the dispute against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army have been making “frequent incursions in Ladakhin the Himalayas, and Chinese troops may be building infrastructure along the Line of Control, reported The Times of India on March 13.
Chinese troops are also digging tunnels in Leepa Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of its China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor that will build a highway from China to Pakistan, and pass under Karakoram Highway, which India says is being illegally occupied by China.
The Chinese efforts are causing a stir in India, just as India is considering offers from Japan and Vietnam to collaborate on efforts to counter China’s takeover of the South China Sea.
We shall continue to cooperate with other countries including India to exploit resources within our 200-nautical-mile EEZ.Ton Sinh ThanhVietnam ambassador to India

Vietnam invited India on Feb. 24 to explore and exploit natural resources within its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, and didn’t try hiding its intentions of countering China’s efforts in the same area.
“We are determined to protect our rights and maintain regular activities in our sovereign waters,” said Ton Sinh Thanh, Vietnam’s ambassador to India, according to The Economic Times. “Accordingly, we shall continue to cooperate with other countries including India to exploit resources within our 200-nautical-mile EEZ.
For anyone who has been following the conflict, Vietnam’s request to India has deeper implications.
The Chinese regime placed an oil-drilling rig in waters 120-miles from the coast of Vietnam on May 2, 2014, and sent relations between the two countries into a nose-dive.
China had removed the oil rig in July 2014, but brought it back in January 2016. Vietnam’s request to India is meant to fire back at China’s efforts.
Vietnam isn’t the only country asking India to help counter the Chinese regime in the South China, either.
India is currently in talks with Japan to help with several efforts in the regionalso meant to indirectly (yet without much subtlety) fight back against China’s efforts.
Japan and India are looking to work together on upgrading civilian infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and may include the construction of a 15-megawatt diesel power plant on South Andaman Island.
India’s entrance into the conflict is likely the last thing Chinese leaders would want.

As New York Times reported on March 11, the collaboration would mark a shift of policy in India, “which has not previously accepted offers of foreign investment in the archipelago,” and the area has strategic importance in countering China. It states the islands are northwest of the Strait of Malacca and offer control of a “so-called choke point that is one of China’s greatest marine vulnerabilities.
India’s entrance into the conflict is likely the last thing Chinese leaders would want. Not only are nations around China forming an alliance, but India is also seen as the emerging superpower that could challenge China’s economic ambitions in the near future.
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The two countries also have a history of not getting along. Conflicts between India and China have been ongoing since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) established its dominance over China on Oct. 1, 1949.
India is involved in its own territorial dispute with China over the McMahon Line on the borders of Tibetafter the CCP invaded Tibet in October 1950, and claimed sovereignty over it a year later.
When the Tibetans feel that we do not threaten them with aggression and treat them equally, then we will solve the subsequent fate of this region.Mao Zedong

The situation has grown complicated in recent years, but leaked Soviet documents, recently declassified and published by the Wilson Center give some insight into what actually took place.
Mao Zedong detailed some of his plans during a discussion on Feb. 6, 1949, with Soviet statesman Anastas Mikoyan.
“The Tibet question is very complicated,” Mao said prior to his invasion, according to the translated Soviet document. “In essence, it is a British colony, and only formally counts as China’s.
Mao had also detailed his plans, saying that after the CCP finished its civil war, “when the Tibetans feel that we do not threaten them with aggression and treat them equally, then we will solve the subsequent fate of this region.
Declassified documents showed that the Soviets were unhappy with China’s hasty takeover of Tibet, noting that they allowed the Dalai Lama to escape, and their aggression caught the attention of India.
The CCP’s conflict with India, and its disputes with activists for a free Tibet, have been ongoing since then.
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This conflict has only deepened with China’s increasing military cooperation with Pakistan.
China is also allegedly planning to build three military security divisions in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which The Times of India says will use a local name “so that India does not protest.
It notes the new Chinese military divisions will number around 30,000 troops and “will be deployed in and around the installations built by the Chinese firms.Issues like this have Indian leaders worried, and its intelligence such as this that may spur the sleeping giant into action.

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