Home » Budget Industry » SECDEF Carter: U.S. Takes ‘Strong Stand’ Against Militarization in South China Sea Disputes


SECDEF Carter: U.S. Takes ‘Strong Stand’ Against Militarization in South China Sea Disputes

Chinese soldier near the Johnson South Reef. Xinhua Photo

Chinese soldier near the Johnson South Reef. Xinhua Photo

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the U.S. is advising all sides of ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea against militarizing the region during a Wednesday press briefing in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart.

Speaking in response to a question on China’s ongoing effort to build installations in the Spratly Islands, Carter indicated the U.S. was firmly against the use of military power to change the regional dynamics in the South Chian Sea.

“[In] making sure that there are no changes in the status quo that are made coercively and that territorial disputes which are longstanding are not militarized — the United States has long opposed that kind of activity on the part of anyone in the region,” he said.
“While, we don’t, as we frequently say, take a stand in any of those territorial disputes, we take a strong stand against militarization of those disputes.”

Carter’s comments follow a speech in Australia last week by U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris in which he questioned China’s intentions in their reclamation efforts referring to the project as a “great wall of sand.”

A map of China's shifting definition of the so-called Nine-Dash Line. US State Dept. Image

A map of China’s shifting definition of the so-called Nine-Dash Line. US State Dept. Image

“When one looks at China’s pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states – the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors – well it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about Chinese intentions,” Harris said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry addressed Carter’s remarks obliquely in a Wednesday press briefing reiterating China’s stance of handling its territorial disputes with countries on a one to one basis — as opposed to the U.S. position that recommends a multi-lateral approach to the overlapping claims.

“We hope that the American side would respect efforts made by China and relevant countries in the region for a negotiated settlement, do and say more things with a sense of responsibility, and play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“We stay committed to resolving the relevant issues through consultation and negotiation with countries directly concerned.”

Analysts have said the reclamation efforts are most likely military installations.

“A reclaimed island being built by China on Fiery Cross Reef appears to be designed to include a 3,000-meter-long airstrip, in addition to ports and radar facilities,” read a March report from Jane’s Defence Weekly.
“Chinese sources indicate that 1,000 km-radius Su-27SK fighters have been deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel archipelago. If deployed to Fiery Cross, the Su-27SK could cover most southern areas of the South China Sea.”

  • Curtis Conway

    As long as the ‘Goliath Chinese’ (with their two 10,000 ton Coast Guard Cutters) are negotiating with its Lilliputian neighbors, the Chinese will continue to intimidate and have a huge negotiation advantage in the region. The Chinese have already demonstrated their intentions over the last decade, and it is expansive and intrusive to their neighbors.

    The countries in the region wishing our involvement and aid should provide the United States a deed to a small island or atoll in the three disputed areas (Paracels, Scarborough Shoal, Spratlys), providing us a ‘dog in the fight’. For these deeds we can provide economic, and civil defense aid to these small and mostly developing countries. Our US Navy Expeditionary Command can move into the area with more presence increasing construction activities of the joint bases recently agreed to in the Philippines. Some of the US Navy Expeditionary Command assets can increase their presence in the region, such as Mk VI patrol boats on Palawan Island, and other locations so they can begin scheduled patrols.

    An International Maritime Operations Center (IMOC) under the jurisdiction and authority of ASEAN should be established to monitor and coordinate operations in the region increasing presence, safety, and security to all concerned. The ASEAN Alliance nations can stand up assets as they are able to populate the patrol routes with USPACOM assistance. Air and surface patrol routes and stations in member nation harbors can be established to support operations. Increased safety and security will result for all participants, and promote peace versus belligerency throughout the region. This will increase interaction between the parties in question and promote greater understanding and commerce for all concerned.

    As these ASEAN countries increase their defense spending over the next decade some of these assets and efforts should be directed to the above constructive activity, instead of just ‘preparing for conflict’. They are going to grow their defense anyway, so let us direct it in a constructive direction.

    If we REALLY wanted to tweek the Chinese, we could offer two more FFG-7 frigates to Taiwan for the Deed to Itu Aba Island, then the Spratlys are covered.

    • Liang5a

      Conway wrote:
      “As long as the ‘Goliath Chinese’ (with their two 10,000 ton Coast Guard Cutters) are negotiating with its Lilliputian neighbors, the Chinese will continue to intimidate and have a huge negotiation advantage in the region. The Chinese have already demonstrated their intentions over the last decade, and it is expansive and intrusive to their neighbors.”
      Liang’s response:
      China has indeed become very powerful compared to its puny neighbors. But it is not China who has aggressed against its puny neighbors. On the contrary, it is the puny neighbors of China who have been emboldened by America to commit aggressions against China’s sovereign territories. China has not expanded its territories into the sovereign territories of its puny neighbors. Therefore, it is a lie to say China has “intrusively” “intimidated” its neighbors. It is the puny neighbors who had erroneously underestimated China’s military power thinking it is still weak like it was decades ago and can be invaded with impunity.

      • Curtis Conway

        The Dragon not only reveals and owns his plan, but lays out his intentions. Militarization is already started with Chinese aggression in the region, and will continue. If Vietnam and Philippines were to embrace the model promoted by the US they would grow like Taiwan and South Korea. Their economies would improve, education would increase, and all boats would float when the tide comes in. If the Chinese have their way, they will be collecting taxes from everyone in the region before this is all said and done, just like the robber barons of old. It is the arena of ideas that is important and true. Otherwise this whole business is about CONQUEST . . . individual liberty, human rights and self determination mean nothing to this opposite mindset againist which we battle in the arena of ideas. All they understand is CONQUEST! Watch out for the Dragon because here he comes, and we have been asleep about this issue way too long.

        • Liang5a

          Curtis Conway @ Liang5a
          The Dragon not only reveals and owns his plan, but lays out his intentions. Militarization is already started with Chinese aggression in the region, and will continue. If Vietnam and Philippines were to embrace the model promoted by the US they would grow like Taiwan and South Korea. Their economies would improve, education would increase, and all boats would float when the tide comes in. If the Chinese have their way, they will be collecting taxes from everyone in the region before this is all said and done, just like the robber barons of old. It is the arena of ideas that is important and true. Otherwise this whole business is about CONQUEST . . . individual liberty, human rights and self determination mean nothing to this opposite mindset againist which we battle in the arena of ideas. All they understand is CONQUEST! Watch out for the Dragon because here he comes, and we have been asleep about this issue way too long.
          Liang’s response:
          Look who is talking? Who colonized Philippines and killed more than 1 million Filipinos? It was America. Who invaded Vietnam and killed some 4 million Vietnamese? It was America. America has ruled Philippines for more than 100 years and yet Philippines is one of the most backward countries in SE Asia. And good luck to you with Vietnam. You’re dreaming if you think you can turn that corrupt society into an advanced country.

          • Curtis Conway

            A country and society that cannot get better over time and experience is doomed to failure as HiStory has shown time and again, so prophesy on.

    • Liang5a

      Conway wrote:
      “The countries in the region wishing our involvement and aid should provide the United States a deed to a small island or atoll in the three disputed areas (Paracels, Scarborough Shoal, Spratlys), providing us a ‘dog in the fight’. For these deeds we can provide economic, and civil defense aid to these small and mostly developing countries. Our US Navy Expeditionary Command can move into the area with more presence increasing construction activities of the joint bases recently agreed to in the Philippines. Some of the US Navy Expeditionary Command assets can increase their presence in the region, such as Mk VI patrol boats on Palawan Island, and other locations so they can begin scheduled patrols.”

      Liang’s response:
      The article of this thread is about the American Secdef haranguing the Chinese not to militarize the South Sea. But Conway here is voicing the opposite of wanting the US to militarize the South Sea. This exposes the real “dog in the fight” to be the US.

      All territories in the South Sea within the 9-Dotted Line are China’s sovereign territories. No aggressors can give any of these islands or atolls to anybody. Therefore, even if Vietnam or Philippines gave any islands to the US it is baseless. Such an act will only accelerate the militarization of the South Sea. China’s island building has already progressed to a significant extent with Yongshu Island now reaching an area of some 3 square kilometers and big enough for a powerful airbase. A runway of some 3 km in length is already under construction and could be expected to be completed within a year. Several other islands already have permanent housings, factories, etc. constructed and will begin production to manufacture materials for the construction of bases on the principle islands. Within 3 years by the end of 2017, China will have several indestructible military bases with hundreds of 4th and even 5th generation fighters, bombers, missiles, etc. Not even if America deployed all its 11 carrier battle groups against these island bases can it succeed in establishing control of the South Sea.

      Lastly, America simply does not have the money to build very expensive island bases in the South Sea. American economy is still very fragile and ironically relies on the Chinese purchase of American national debts to get by. Rand Paul has proposed cutting the education, food stamp and many other things. So obviously America does not have the money to build very expensive military bases in the South Sea against China. All it will do is initiate an arms race that the US cannot win. And ultimately, America will go down like the USSR. Times has changed. America’s day of unchallenged military power is now gone. Those Americans who still think of America only needs to send in its carrier battle groups to dominate a region is now out of touch with reality.

      • Curtis Conway

        The Dragon Speaks…again.

    • Liang5a

      Conway wrote:
      “An International Maritime Operations Center (IMOC) under the jurisdiction and authority of ASEAN should be established to monitor and coordinate operations in the region increasing presence, safety, and security to all concerned. The ASEAN Alliance nations can stand up assets as they are able to populate the patrol routes with USPACOM assistance. Air and surface patrol routes and stations in member nation harbors can be established to support operations. Increased safety and security will result for all participants, and promote peace versus belligerency throughout the region. This will increase interaction between the parties in question and promote greater understanding and commerce for all concerned.”

      Liang’s response:
      ASEAN was created by America during the Vietnam War era to contain China. But times has changed. ASEAN is now just a relic of the past. America certainly does not control ASEAN. Of the 10 ASEAN members, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are good friends with China and understand that their future lies with China. Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia understand they cannot challenge China with impunity. They are also Muslim countries who do not like America. As China’s power and wealth increases and as America’s technologies and economy falls further back relative to China, they will lean toward China. They understand that America can leave South Sea but they cannot leave and so must seek accommodation with China. Singapore is mostly ethnic Chinese. Singapore is now pro-America because it needs the protection of the US against its biggest threats who are Malaysia and Indonesia. But once China can control Malaysia and Indonesia, then Singapore will naturally pivot toward China for its own survival. Burma is now falling apart and cannot be of any use to the US militarily or economically. The Burma government and people think they can get limitless help from America like decades ago. But they are only being ignorant not realizing that America now relies on Chinese trade and Chinese purchase of American national debt to survive. After a few more years these ignorant Burmese will wake up to the realization that they will not be getting any help from America. Then they will crawl meekly back to China begging for help. So that leaves only Vietnam and Philippines. But who cares about these deadbeats? They are the poorest of the ASEAN countries. If China ignored them they will simply sink and disappear. China can leave them to America who will quickly turn them into the equivalent of Haiti and Liberia.

      • Curtis Conway

        The Dragon Speaks…

      • John McGoar

        US did not create the ASEAN. It is the five founding countries which created it.

  • China Lee

    It’s time for “Let’s Make a Deal.”

    It is a well-established historical fact that China was the first nation (starting with the Han Dynasty two thousand years ago) in the world to discover, name, and claim the South China Sea islands and maritime territory.

    In exchange for the Philippines and Vietnam in not challenging China’s maritime sovereign rights and territory in the South China Sea, China will guarantee via treaty that the Philippines and Vietnam will have perpetual Free Navigation rights for their commercial transport ships.

    • Liang5a

      China must not make any deal to bribe the compliance of its sovereignty. Sovereignty can only be defended with military power. It is unseemly for China to bribe aggressors with deals. Aggressors will only be encouraged to aggress against China even more if they thought they could extort even more bribes from China with more threats and aggressions. Over the last 200 years China had been weak and unable to defend itself. Therefore, it was a policy born of necessity to bribe aggressors to stop aggressing against China. But history shows that such bribes had never worked. Bribing aggressors to stop aggressing is only the baseless wish of the Chinese leaders. Unfortunately, such a policy of bribery has become the “wisdom” of the current Chinese government. Or it is being used by Chinese traitors to justify their sellout of the Chinese national interests. It is a painful historical lesson that the ONLY way to defend national sovereignty is by military force. China is now strong enough to defend itself with military force. Therefore, China must now stop the disgraceful and ineffectual policy of making deals to bribe aggressors into stopping their aggressions against China’s national sovereignty. China should now just kick aggressors out of Chinese sovereign territories and teach them to respect Chinese national sovereignty. Then we can talk about peace, trade and whatever else.

    • James Sword

      Show me a proof. I’m curious. No where was Scarborough ever mentioned anywhere in China’s history. Show me a proof. Please I beg you.

      • China Lee

        It’s called Huangyan Island. Scarborough is the English name for the Chinese island.

        • James Sword

          You still have not given proof that Huangyang Island was part of some dynasty. If it is just 9-line then we know is just a concocted scam that even Taiwan’s Ma have refuted.

          • China Lee

            Huangyan Island/Scarborough Shoal has always been Chinese

            • 2000 years ago, during China’s Qin and Han Dynasties, China first found and named Huangyan Island.

            • In 1279, Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing established 27 observatory stations and Huangyan Island was home to one of them.

            • In the 15th century, Zheng He’s navigation map pointed out the location of Huangyan Island.

            • In 1947, a map drawn up by China’s Interior Ministry meant China had already started to manage Huangyan Island.

            • In 1930 and 1960, Huangyan Island was not included in the Philippines’ Constitution and Territorial Baseline Law.
            ———-
            Citation: “China Holds Undisputed Sovereignty over Huangyan Island – CNTV English Special Report”

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  • Liang5a

    Quote from the article:
    ““[In] making sure that there are no changes in the status quo that are made coercively and that territorial disputes which are longstanding are not militarized — the United States has long opposed that kind of activity on the part of anyone in the region,” he said.
    “While, we don’t, as we frequently say, take a stand in any of those territorial disputes, we take a strong stand against militarization of those disputes.””

    Liang’s comment:
    The above statement by Carter is obviously mendacious. America is the one who had upset the status quo by declaring that it would “pivot” 60% of its naval assets to the West Pacific. America is obviously taking sides against China by inciting false claims by its Filipino and Japanese client states on historical Chinese sovereign territories. America is now unhappy because China has risen up to the challenge and began to exercise its big economic muscle by manufacturing more ships, planes, missiles ,etc. China has also started the process of creating islands in the S. China Sea which will ultimately be turned into powerful military bases that will give China the edge in terms of proximity over the aggressors. So the US is now attempting to get China to unilaterally back down in militarization. With Hu-Wen rabbits gone from the Chinese government, hopefully the new Xi government will have a little stiffer backbone and continue the rightful defense of the Chinese sovereignty over the South Sea.
    China’s sovereignty over the South Sea is indisputable. China must now declare that it withdraws the offer of joint development. Henceforth China will defend its sovereignty with military power and not with bribes.

    • remied

      These Islands were never China. They can’t even show historical facts. Their maps were translation of European maps. Which they copycat because they never been to SCS and were never seaworthy. China keeps saying ancient time but produce no such evidence except a crayon 9 dash line which looks insane ,unless you are bias chinese

    • John McGoar

      Just look at China’s map it changes everytime they publish it, very inconsistent. Your China can not even provide the coordinates of their claim.

      Second, China signed the UNCLOS and under the UNCLOS no one can claim a feature which is underwater since time in memorial. Those reclamations are illegal.

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    “Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the U.S. is advising all sides of ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea against militarizing the region…” Exactly why the U.S. needs to pull back to the Second Island Chain, stop providing SCS claimants with a façade to hide behind, stop trying to create another Cold War/Arms Race IOT justify your absurd budgets, & especially STOP, before you wind up getting thousands of OUR American youth killed in a SCS conflict of your own making, which does NOT directly threaten OUR National Security…

    • Liang5a

      FedUpWithWelfareStates wrote:
      “Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the U.S. is advising all sides of ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea against militarizing the region…” Exactly why the U.S. needs to pull back to the Second Island Chain, stop providing SCS claimants with a façade to hide behind, stop trying to create another Cold War/Arms Race IOT JUSTIFY YOUR ABSURD BUDGETS, & especially STOP, before you wind up getting thousands of OUR American youth killed in a SCS conflict of your own making, which does NOT directly threaten OUR National Security…

      Liang’s comment:
      I don’t think the US can increase its military budget because it is flat broke. The Democrats want to decrease the defense budget while increasing social programs. The Republicans want to decrease social programs and increase the defense budget. I doubt the majority of the Americans will support increasing the defense budget at the cost of reducing the social programs.

      • John McGoar

        Even if the US do not increase their military budget, it is way bigger than China’s. How much more if the US economy starts rising and currently it is picking up.

        Just the number of carriers alone, it is 10 to 1. That does not include the Gator carriers which amounts to 9. So 19 to 1 perhaps?

        “I doubt the majority of the Americans will support increasing the defense budget at the cost of reducing the social programs.”

        You are way wrong, Americans want an increase in budget, for one employment, more soldiers, sailors, pilots to join the ranks. Second more jobs to manufacture planes, ships, tanks etc. Third, America has a military culture, being in the military is a pride for them. Fourth, the military has one of the best social programs for veterans and it has multiplier effect to other sectors and services. Which in return more jobs and enterprises and taxes.

  • Testerty

    Repeat after me 3 x: “China big, Philippine small”
    Now STFU.

  • Pops

    Wow, a lot of uber panda on this thread. Bullying tactics at work, oh wait, they’re leftist commies, that’s what they do! If the “people’s” republic (oxymoron, isn’t it?) wouldn’t throw die große panda weight around with reckless abandon then there wouldn’t be this issue. The panda’s aggressive militant behavior is creating a hostile environment and an arms race all around Asia. The panda’s entitlement mentality rivals that of the American welfare state – LOL!

    • Liang5a

      Pops wrote:
      Wow, a lot of uber panda on this thread. Bullying tactics at work, oh wait, they’re leftist commies, that’s what they do! If the “people’s” republic (oxymoron, isn’t it?) wouldn’t throw die große panda weight around with reckless abandon then there wouldn’t be this issue. The panda’s aggressive militant behavior is creating a hostile environment and an arms race all around Asia. The panda’s entitlement mentality rivals that of the American welfare state – LOL!
      Liang’s response:
      Actually the panda has not been very militant. It has been just the opposite. The panda is trying desperately to keep a low profile which is what Deng’s mandate about “hide the light and feed the dimness” is all about. It is this excessive desire for peace that has emboldened the puny neighbors to aggress against China. Now that the panda has begun to arm itself and build its defenses its enemies are crying foul. But who cares? The panda should just step on the aggressors and put an end to this endless bother.

      • John McGoar

        “It is this excessive desire for peace that has emboldened the puny neighbors to aggress against China.”

        A big HAAAAAA! How can a desire for peace to be a form of aggression? WTF? Where is your IQ dude?

        Are you reflecting your country’s attitude, a twisted mind?

  • Jim Valle

    What does a 1.2 billion pound panda bear do when it wants to establish hegemony over its backyard? It just goes ahead and does it. What does a 320 million pound eagle based ten thousand miles away do about it? Send up a cloud of diplomatic/bureaucratic protest jargon, move some assets into the area, try to rally a band of very small “allies” and bandy some precepts of International Law about. If that doesn’t impress the panda, nothing will. Oh, and did I mention, the eagle is flat broke and trying desperately to get out from under some unfortunate misadventures on the other side of Asia.

    • Liang5a

      You can also mention that the panda is keeping the eagle aloft by buying trillions of dollars of the eagle’s national debt.

      • James Sword

        Are they buying bonds until now? I don’t think so.

    • Secundius

      @ Jim Valle.

      Unfortunately, there are ~20 Nations States that don’t want to be members of the PRC Hegemony…

    • John McGoar

      China too is broke, it has twice the debt in relation to its GDP and with a decreasing economic growth, from 10% to 7%. The bubble is waiting to burst.

  • Ruckweiler

    With what, a sharp note of protest?

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