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South China Sea Standoff
U.S. Challenging China by Air and by Sea

Earlier this week, a few days ahead of President Obama’s trip to Asia, a pair of American B-52 bombers flew through the Spratly archipelago. The Wall Street Journal has the story:

Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew near a cluster of Chinese-built artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea this week, U.S. officials said, the latest in a series of American challenges to Beijing’s maritime claims.

The aircraft took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam and flew around the Spratly Islands on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 8, said U.S. Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command.

Chinese air traffic control contacted one of the bombers while it was in international airspace, outside of the 12-mile exclusion zone claimed by China around its manmade outposts, warning it that it had “violated the security of my reef.” The U.S. did not confirm whether the planes had subsequently entered the claimed 12-mile exclusion zone. In 2013, the United States also flew B-52s through China’s claimed Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Amid continuing confusion about whether Washington is committed to confronting Beijing in the South China Sea, count this story for those who say the United States is plenty serious.

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  • Dale Fayda

    “…The United States is plenty serious.” What? A military plane flying outside of the 12-mile exclusion zone is “plenty serious”?

    Aw, lawdy! Now watch the Chinese speedily change course and evacuate the area because Obama is now “plenty serious”!

    Even if a swarm of US planes flies right through the exclusion zone, it won’t make the Chinese change their policies one iota. And why would it? Their militarization of the Spratly archipelago and of their man-made island is a fait accompli at this point. They’re well aware that Obama can’t and won’t do anything more substantive, so this is all just for show. Other than some passive-aggressive military posturing by Obama, this is a done deal for the ChiComs – certainly nothing for them to fear from this regime.

    • Re

      Stop, please stop! The US is doing some great there, and the other Asian countries said they were satisfied from it, they’re now confident the US has their back and as a result challenge China more overtly.

      I’m glad to see the US is plenty serious against China, that’s the positive side of Putin’s stupid crusade : the US knows it can’t make the same mistake with China, so they act. The US now needs to pass the TPP, that would bbe the most wonderful accomplishment against China in Asia.

      • Dale Fayda

        I’ll stop if you do. Acceptable, dingus?

      • Fred

        Dale may be jumping the gun on his dismissal, but in fairness, it seems to me your conclusion is also premature. There is a reason I call our commander in chief President Gelding. It remains to be seen whether this is meaningful action or an election year stunt. Given Obama’s record (the Honduran “coup,” bugging out of Iraq, announcing the timetable of the Afghan withdrawal, selling out the Iranian protesters, “leading from behind,” disappearing red lines, etc., etc.) you’ll forgive me for suspecting it is the latter. But I’m willing (hoping actually) to be proven wrong.

        • Dale Fayda

          Fred, your listing of Obama’s foreign policy record is precisely why I stated what I did in my post. I’ve listed many times before in response to Friendly Goat, et al whom I consider to be America’s enemies and China is definitely on that list.

          If (and it’s a HUGE if…) Obama does anything of substance in regard to this blatant Chinese land grab, I’ll be happy to eat my words. After all, some US president will likely have to to step up and tackle this problem sooner rather than later. Like you, I’m more than skeptical – I just put it into more emphatic terms. Your input is sincerely appreciated.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The point here is not to change Chinese behavior…it isn’t going to change until we seriously ratchet up the price for it, and we aren’t going to do that. The point is to be clear that the legal challenge to Freedom of the Seas being made by the Chinese will not stand. At least for the time being, that is being done. It is a small thing perhaps, and a fragile one, but until we decide to take stronger steps to deal with the underlying problem (the Chinese sense of entitlement), this will have to do.

      • Dale Fayda

        “It is a small thing perhaps, and a fragile one…” A small thing, indeed.

        US was watching Chinese construction and dredging activities for months and did nothing. NOTHING. Now, it’s too late – the ChiComs are entrenched, their facilities are completed (or nearly so) and they’re not going anywhere.

        ” …but until we decide to take stronger steps to deal with the underlying problem (the Chinese sense of entitlement), this will have to do.” What stronger steps, exactly? What “stronger steps” do you think Obama or the “international community” will take? The Chinese are there and they aren’t going anywhere voluntarily. And why would they? Other than a real, credible threat of overwhelming military force, what would ever make them re-think their position? Do you think there is ANY real possibility of that happening? Who would lead it? The US, Japan, Taiwan, Australia? Fat chance!

        Obama is a football referee blowing his whistle in the parking lot after the game. More than a day late and more than a buck short.

        • f1b0nacc1

          The Chinese construction is NOT a violation of recognized international law, and is a matter for them to resolve with the other various claimants for those islands. Yes, I agree that in a perfect world, they would be slapped down, but are you seriously suggesting getting into a shooting conflict over this? We both know that isn’t going to happen, and that they Chinese will only leave when/if they can be convinced that they would find it in their interest to do so.
          Regarding those ‘stronger steps’, Obama isn’t going to take any of them, but at least (right now) he is holding the line. A President Cruz or Rubio is more likely to take some of them, such as actively arming the front line states such as the Philipines and the Vietnamese, taking a leadership role in reconciling the Japanese and the Koreans (the biggest single step that could be taken), and providing advanced weapons to the Taiwanese in exchange for major reforms in their defense posture. The usual cultural steps could be taken as well, think of Reagan’s slow, cumulative policy of making it clear to the Soviets that they were not the future….that did immense damage to them in the long run.
          Starting a war with the Chinese will help nobody, and we aren’t going to do it. This isn’t just Obama, weakling though he is, to blame, but a broader question of how far are we willing to go. Do you really think you could sell such a policy to the American people, or sustain it once bodies started coming back? Where would it end, what would be the goals?
          You are a serious man….you can do better than this.

          • Dale Fayda

            I never suggested that US to go war with China over this land grab and I dare you to point to a sentence in my comments on this topic that even imply otherwise.

            My position on this issue is in response to the title and the contents of this post by TAI, which states that US is “plenty serious” about challenging China in the South China Sea. I don’t want to re-explain what I wrote earlier, but I think it’s beyond obvious that Obama is way too late with even this pathetic “show of force” and that NO “stronger steps” will be taken by any of the players who may oppose China in this development – not Obama, not Taiwan, not South Korea, no one. The time to sable rattle months ago, before the ChiComs have comfortably settled in in these disputed areas.

            I remember reading about the Chinese militarizing these islands many months ago and if was reading it on some obscure website, you can believe that these developments have appeared on the Pentagon’s and State Dept.’s agenda. No substantive actions were taken by anyone and at this point they never will be.

            For the Chinese, this is a done deal, just like the annexation of Crimea is for Putin and it drew essentially the same reaction – some useless hurrumphing by the US and the local players, essentially just to blow smoke up their electorates’ butts and then taking this issue off their desks for the foreseeable future.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You keep calling for stronger steps, and castigating those that have been taken. Precisely what would YOU have done…not general phrases….specific steps…
            The point of the FOS transits and the overflights was not to scare the Chinese, or to convince them to leave, obviously neither would do so. the point of these was to demonstrate that the US will NOT recognize the ADIZ or the new island’s as legitimate territorial waters for the Chinese. This may seem like a minor point, but it is not.

          • Dale Fayda

            Sure looks like I was onto something, doesn’t it? The whole thing was pretty much a dog & pony show by our Dear Leader, wouldn’t you say? Still think he’s “serious” about confronting the ChiComs on this?

            http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/12/15/u-s-sends-mixed-signals-on-south-china-sea/

          • f1b0nacc1

            As seriously as anything this administration does, that doesn’t involve engaging its political enemies.
            If you are suggesting (as the link does) that the administration is screwing things up with mixed messaging, poor discipline, and general incompetence, I don’t dispute that point, and never did. Does that mean that they aren’t trying to send the right message? No….it means that they are simply bad at it….which should surprise nobody.

  • Jim__L

    Crud. What if the Chinese who have gone to school at American universities start reacting to our microaggressions the way they learned in school?

    On the other hand, gelding China’s next generation of leaders and turning them into helpless basketcases might be a useful way to subvert the PRC government…

  • Anthony

    Something for the armchair militarist and geopolitical wishful thinkers: the fifth-generation medium fighter Gyrfalcon (FC-31), independently developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), debuted at the Dubai Airshow. In point of fact, the FC-31 is designed for demands of future battlefield environments. I’m sure our real military strategist comprehend what is and what is not indicative of a rising China.

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