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USS Theodore Roosevelt in Face of China Again: Calls China’s Bluff in South China Sea

Trashing the Illegal Law Passed for China's Coast Guard to fire on Civilian Vessels

China had a Coast Guard Law passed on 23 January, wherein it authorized its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy structures on features it claims.

The Coast Guard Law passed on Friday empowers the levy of force to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea”.

The law also authorizes the coast guard to demolish other countries’ structures built on reefs and islands claimed by China and to seize or order foreign vessels illegally entering China’s territorial waters to leave.

China’s Law in International Waters?

China’s coast guard comes into frequent contact with air and sea forces from Japan, the US, and other claimants to the South China Sea, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

While it has been settled by the Hague Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the dispute brought by the Philippines against China, that China’s so-called and crassly advertised claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line, which China uses to define its claims in the South China Sea, were without legal foundation.

Philippine Fishing Boat sunk by Chinese Vessel

The panel also concluded in all their finality, that Beijing’s activities within the Philippines’ two hundred nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ), such as illegal fishing and environmentally ruinous artificial island construction, infringed on Philippine’s sovereign rights.

Selective Targeting of Weaker Nations Piecemeal?

While China is challenged comprehensively by only Japan in the region, other nations enjoy a reason to be united against the Dragon. This is what Beijing routinely efforts, to play carrot and stick routine, with each of them individually for the last ten years.

Since 2020 Chinese aggression on all fronts, and entry of the US in the South China Seas, latter has been successful in rallying all the stakeholders, including Europeans, Indians, and Australians to intervene in the area, right to the hilt.

That saw routine patrolling by India, Australia, the UK, German and Japanese in a concerted fashion. Taiwan being the one in immediate reach has been reassured by US presence in the region, has been actively rebuffing the Chinese incursions, mostly as a show of intent, rather than militarily tangible.

With Taiwan not blinking, China is turning to nearby vulnerable nations, whom it can bully. While China shall not be able to challenge any one of the assets by a show of force, however, to accrue concessions in other spheres, it has come up with the law, mostly as an irritant to a peaceful maritime situation.

Taiwan Stands Tall

Loss of face in front of an increasingly disillusioned Domestic Audience

In March 2018, the National People’s Congress (or NPC, China’s legislature) changed the state constitution to abolish the two-term limit for the president, and declared Xi Jinping a ‘President for Life’.

Just eight-month back, Xi Jinping was consolidating the power corridors in Beijing, to ensure the same. One of the promises, as the reason to stay in power indefinitely, was the integration of Taiwan into Chine before 2020.

A year before, on 18 October 2017, as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping delivered a sweeping address on all the policy issues facing the Chinese government and stated his vision for the country’s future, apparently to lay the groundwork for life term to his leadership.

He proclaimed the unification of Taiwan by 2020, as a precursor to the first of its two “centennial anniversaries in 2021 i.e. 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPP) founding. Time is already past that, as Xi Jinping couldn’t achieve what he had proclaimed three years back, to book his place for “The Lifetime President”.

Now he is back to what Chinese communists do best, send planes in the airspace of Taiwan, as hollow image buildings, to quell domestic discontentment with Xi Jinping’s confrontationist leadership.

Issuing hollow powers to its Coast Guard to confront valid fishing vessels in international waters, and someday targeting a couple might be shown as bravado by CCP, in their state-controlled media.

Viewpoint

One for All and All for One

In terms of military and geostrategic alone, Beijing already faces some constraints and countervailing forces on applying coercive Coast Guard Aggression against all the claimants, in South China Seas. Offensive strategy, even with an aircraft carrier in Southeast Asia, carries unchartered spin-offs, if not against individual nations.

If that is the case, then the most appropriate target would be the Philippines, followed by Malaysia and Indonesia, due to their territorial disputes with China and their relatively inferior military capabilities, but they still have some means to deter a PLAN aircraft carrier group. These aircraft carriers do indeed contribute to Beijing’s image of a rising military superpower, but their operational applications may not be as overwhelming as the propaganda describes.

It must be noted that all Southeast Asian countries carefully handle their relations with China and strenuously work to prevent any occasion for the latter to pursue military options. However, if the strong choose to do as they please, the weak will not merely suffer what they must.

Given the past year, all powers, when they present a united front against the Chinese Navy, shall spell disaster in making, for China’s navy.

Already, as on today, American Carrier Battle Force components Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn are being led by Carrier Theodore Roosevelt, in South China Seas. Similarly, India is going strong in projecting its operations to strangulate China in the Malacca Straits, with its ongoing Joint exercise Kavach.

Above is a dare to China and its idiotic, senseless laws passed, for the consumption of its domestic audience, and undermining its own Coast Guard?

Yes, China is out with dubious “Law Antics”, just to fool its domestic audience. Who knows what fake bravado China is feeding its domestic audience?, as was the case in the Dhoklam standoff in 2017, Ladakh faceoff in 2020, and drubbing of PLA personals at hands of the Indian Army on 25 Jan 2021 in Naku La, Sikkim.

Intruders being Taught a Lessons by the Indian Army

The manner in which PLA personnel are forced to carry out illegal and unprofessional, un-military like behavior at the LAC with India, and forced to receive drubbings, the same way China’s Coast Guard is now being thrown to contest international waters. It is interesting that both are illegal, and Coast Guard personnel and officials are liable be tried under international law, if the situation turns worse, with incur of loss to men or property.

Like Nazi Germany, where guilty were punished for following orders of a madman, the madman now issuing illegal orders, is Xi Jinping. Someone does eventually pays for his tomfoolery.

25 Jan 21/ Monday                                                                                                   Written By: Fayaz

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